Dec. 8, 2017 – The most visited destination in the U.S. has a new must-taste experience: a signature dessert developed to showcase the region’s culinary evolution and connection with honey. A destination-wide culinary competition involved public voting as well as a celebrity panel of judges including two-time James Beard Award winner Chef Art Smith.
The winning dish, “Orlando’s Honey Nougat Glacé,“ is an Italian meringue prepared with honey, nougat and fruit confit, on a red berries sorbet from Chef Catherine Delrieu of Mon Petit Cheri.
“Orlando’s Honey Nougat Glacé stood out because you could really taste the honey,” said Chef Art Smith. “Yet it had this wonderful clean refreshing aftertaste – a total sweet honey bomb with a delicious tart fruit that soothes. Congratulations to Chef Catherine on this fabulous dish.”
“I wanted to create something different and refreshing to showcase local honey, but with balanced flavors so that it does not become too overpowering with sweetness,” said Chef Catherine Delrieu. “The entire process has been really exciting and challenging. I’m very proud to have been a part of this.”
The culinary competition launched in August, welcoming submissions from across Central Florida with the following criteria:
- local honey must be a key ingredient;
- the dish must be a dessert;
- it is available to the public in a restaurant or food venue;
- only one entry per restaurant.
With more than a month-long window for trying the desserts in restaurants and submitting a vote online, the public narrowed down the field of honey desserts to the top 10 dishes. An esteemed judging panel sampled all 10 finalists’ entries and rated them on the following criteria: Execution, Appearance, Taste, Creativity, Originality, Use of Honey and Representation of Orlando.
The panel of judges included:
- Celebrity Chef Art Smith, Homecomin’ and two-time James Beard Foundation Award Winner
- Tish Boyle, co-editor of Dessert Professional magazine
- Lauren Delgado, multimedia food reporter for the Orlando Sentinel
- Scott Joseph, veteran restaurant critic for scottjosephorlando.com
“Orlando’s Honey Nougat Glacé serves as a reminder of the eclectic, vibrant and diverse culinary scene that we have right here in Central Florida,” said Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobs. “I hope to see all of the restaurants and incredibly talented chefs throughout our region put their own spin on this dish.”
Earlier this year, a group of area chefs and food and beverage specialists met with Orange County Mayor Teresa Jacobsand Visit Orlando destination experts to consider exploring a signature dish for the region. Developed to spread awareness of Orlando’s diverse dining scene, the idea to focus on a culinary competition to showcase local honey grew from that initial challenge.
Honey is both delicious and of historical significance to Orange County. European honeybees and citrus trees entered the state together nearly 500 years ago. As the citrus trees flourished in the state’s mild climate and sandy soil, so too did the bees. Central Florida has long had an abundance of local crops and plants that contribute to numerous flavors of honey such as gallberry, saw palmetto, blueberry, Brazilian pepper and popular orange blossoms.