The Ravenous Pig
Courtesy The Ravenous Pig
Forget catering to theme-park masses. innovative chefs in Orlando, Fla., are (finally!) elevating the city’s dining scene to a destination in and of itself — as well as making it suitable to earn the culinary world’s seal of approval. Leading the pack are four 2013 semifinalist nominees for the James Beard Award Best Chef of the South title.

The Details

The Ravenous Pig
1234 N. Orange Ave.

Cask & Larder
565 W. Fairbanks Ave.

Luma on Park
290 S. Park Ave.

The Rusty Spoon
55 W. Church St.

Victoria & Albert’s
4401 Disney’s Grand Floridian

“We’ve been the land of chains for so long,” laments James Petrakis, who, along with his wife, Julie, earned a James Beard nod for the third consecutive year. Owner and chef of THE RAVENOUS PIG and CASK & LARDER, two casual eateries dedicated to artisanal and regional foods in Winter Park, Fla., Petrakis sees the tide of culinary mediocrity turning. “Every year, Orlando is blossoming into its own identity.”

Brandon McGlamery, executive chef at LUMA ON PARK — a restaurant that’s as known for celebrity spotting (think Orlando Magic players) as much as it is for upscale cuisine — also received a James Beard nomination. And a commitment to seasonal and sustainable foods put Kathleen Blake of downtown Orlando’s THE RUSTY SPOON on the list. Blake’s mantra, “American Food. European Roots. Locally Sourced,” promises that the ingredients used in her dishes are always local and never have traveled very far.

At the Walt Disney World Resort, chef Scott Hunnel has been a fixture on the Best of the South nominations list since 2007. Hunnel gathers highly sought-after ingredients from around the world for VICTORIA & ALBERT'S. Foodies around the world recognize the restaurant as one of the Southeast’s best — and it has the hefty price tag to match its impeccable service and divine seven-course menus.