In the 1950s, the Orlando area was mainly known for test rockets and orange groves. When Walt Disney announced plans to build a spectacular new theme park in the area in 1964, the area gained a whole new identity. The tourist trade became big business starting in the '70s, and with it came flavorful attractions for locals and visitors alike. Today, Orlando is still growing, and its culinary scene is more vibrant than ever.
Since it owes much of its growth to tourism, Orlando restaurants evolved to offer a little bit of everything. Everything from sushi to steaks to wood-fired pizza, upscale Italian to tapas and small plates to Southern-fried comfort food and more can be found within a reasonable distance from the city center.
Plenty of fine dining options show up on the city map: there's Chatham's Place, Roy's and Fleming's in the Dr. Phillips neighborhood, Luma and Café de France in Winter Park, and Kres Chophouse, HUE and The Boheme downtown. Orlando's status as an international tourist destination means tons of resort dining as well, including Nine18 at the Grand Cypress Resort, Norman's at the Ritz-Carlton Orlando, and local favorite The Venetian Room at the Caribe Royale Hotel on World Center Drive.
As much as the tourism industry has shaped the culinary landscape of Orlando, a host of restaurants, diners, cafés and other eateries have stayed true to the city's regional roots. Chef Eddie's is a family-run barbecue and soul food restaurant with ribs that slide off the bone and plates of chicken and waffles in flavor combinations that diners can barely believe. For sandwich lovers, Beefy King on North Bumby Avenue is an Orlando institution with 40 years of history behind it and -- perhaps as a shout-out to Orlando's distant past as the cattle ranching capital of the Sunshine State -- a Kaiser bun piled high with steamed roast beef that's cut fresh to order.
The broad base of restaurants in Orlando have helped make kitchen and table-service occupations the third-largest employer in the metro area, with better than 12 percent of area residents working to keep it running. Abundant opportunities for young chefs exist among the 120,000+ positions in Orlando's thriving culinary sector, but only a few routes through the job market will get them there.
Students at culinary schools in Orlando learn from the same set of techniques and ideas at work behind the scenes at every restaurant in town. Some top professional chefs earn all their experience on the job, sometimes starting out as a dishwasher and moving up through the ranks in various kitchens, but Orlando culinary schools offer comprehensive training for aspiring chefs who are serious about cooking.
Of course, even graduates of culinary schools in Orlando will learn on the job from the first day they're hired. Orlando is full of masters of the craft under whom new chefs might have a chance to study -- including eminent restaurateur Emeril Lagasse, who operates two establishments in the area. The large number of high-quality restaurants in Disney World, Universal Studios and other resort environments also boast great educational opportunities for those industry greenhorns recently graduated from culinary arts schools.
In Orlando, FL, the world comes to visit. The vast and vibrant restaurant scene makes sure they're well-fed when they're there.
For information on Culinary Schools in Orlando, please visit any school below and request more information.
"History (Orlando)," Frommer's Destinations, 2013, http://www.frommers.com/destinations/orlando/0022020044.html
"Fine Dining Orlando," Yelp.com, 2013, http://www.yelp.com/search?find_desc=Fine+Dining&find_loc=Orlando%2C+FL#l=p:x&rpp=40"
Orlando Food Scene, http://orlandofoodscene.com/
"May 2011 Metropolitan and Nonmetropolitan Area Occupational Employment and Wage Estimates - Orlando-Kissimmee-Sanford, FL," Bureau of Labor Statistics, United States Department of Labor, March 27, 2012, http://www.bls.gov/oes/current/oes_36740.htm
"Did You Catch the Premiere of 'Emeril's Florida'?," Visit Florida, Official Florida Tourism Industry Marketing Corporation, January 9, 2013, http://www.visitflorida.com/insiders/food_and_dining/action.blog/8401-did-you-catch-the-premiere-of-emerils-florida
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