Chef-Kevin-FonzoKevin Fonzo, Chef & Owner K Restaurant

Kevin Fonzo, owner of K Restaurant and Wine Bar, in Orlando’s College Park neighborhood, is a New York City native who started his culinary training at the age of 15.

Fonzo attended The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, graduating with honors, and interning in Hilton Head Island, South Carolina at the site of the Heritage Golf Classic.

Following graduation, he landed a job as part of the opening team at The Peabody Hotel in Orlando, Florida, where he was promoted to Chef of the Italian restaurant, Capriccio earning “Best Brunch in Orlando” award from Glamour Magazine; he was also featured on News Channel 13.

From there, Fonzo went on to work for the Peasant Restaurant Group in Atlanta, Georgia, where he appeared in Cobb Magazine and on Atlanta Live! At Noon. While in Atlanta, Kevin worked for Thomas Coohill and Jean Banchet of “Bistango” and “Ciboulette” being awarded the title, “Best Restaurant in Atlanta” from Gourmet Magazine.

Fonzo then moved on to menu designer/kitchen developer for the “Phoenix Brewing Company”, where he was featured in Brew MagazineBrewpubNation’s Restaurant NewsSouthern LivingAtlanta Magazine, and Atlanta Journal Constitution.

After seven years in Atlanta, Fonzo returned to Orlando. He became the chef at “Café Allegre,” and eventually bought the restaurant in 2001. Fonzo changed the name to “K Restaurant and Wine Bar.” It became one of Orlando’s first chef-owned and operated restaurants, and the first to feature local ingredients, a seasonal menu, and full cheese list.

K Restaurant and Wine Bar has been honored with “Neighborhood Gem” to “Best Restaurant in Orlando”. As one of “America’s Top Restaurants” in Zagat, Fonzo’s restaurant has been featured in Bon AppetitNation’s Restaurant NewsOrlando LeisureFlorida TrendOrlando Sentinel, and he was added into “Orlando’s Dining Hall of Fame” by Orlando Magazine.

Fonzo has volunteered with the Orlando Junior Academy; a small school in College Park where he worked in the cafeteria every day preparing fresh, healthy lunches for the students. While there, he created a program that can be sustained by the school staff, including supporting the school’s garden;it has been awarded “Best School Garden for the State of Florida” by the University of Central Florida. His work at the school was recognized by Michelle Obama as a part of her “Chef’s Move to School” initiative earning him an invitation to the White House to tour the White House garden.

In 2013, Chef Emeril Lagasse visited K Restaurant as part of his “Emeril’s Florida” TV show focusing on Florida restaurants and chefs. Hearing about what Chef Kevin was doing at “The Edible Schoolyard at O.J.A” he visited the school the very next day. Impressed with the program Kevin started, The Emeril Lagasse Foundation partnered with him in building a new kitchen house/classroom. The new building has broken ground and will be open for classes in late spring 2015. In June 2015, Kevin was invited to the James Beard Foundation’s Boot Camp on food policy.

Kevin resides in the College Park neighborhood of Orlando, Florida.

Chef Kevin Fonzo’s 2015 P2P Judge’s Award Winning Shepherd’s Pie Recipe

 

 

Headshot2Isabella Morgia di Vicari,

Chef & Owner The Meatball Stoppe

Isabella Morgia di Vicari is the co-owner of Orlando’s newest restaurant concept, The Meatball Stoppe, located in east Orlando.

She is a first generation American born of Italian decent. Originally from Brooklyn, New York, Isabella moved to Orlando in 1970, where she was raised in her family’s restaurant businesses. Isabella’s love of cooking came from her namesake, her grandmother, who lived in the family home and had a huge influence on Isabella’s passion for Italian traditions and food.

Her love for cooking has been documented in her first cookbook, “What Can I Bring?”. The published author is also a personal chef creating meals for many in our community.

Isabella’s mission is to bring the “Famiglia, to our community and ‘America’ back to the table.” The foundation of everything she stands for is brought to the table with exceptional food and extraordinary passion.

She has appeared on Fox 35Central Florida News 13: Chef’s KitchenThe Daily BuzzGrowing BolderThe Good Life: Welcome Home, Emotional Mojo, and Ivanhoe News: Chef’s Corner.

Isabella is married to her business partner, Jeff Morgia aka “The Meatball Man.” The couple plans to open additional Meatball Shoppe’s throughout Central Florida next year.

Together, they founded a culinary program for children called the “Community International Culinary Program”, whose mission is to feed families physically, emotionally and spiritually, with a focus on healthy families as well as healthy bodies.

She is also involved with the following organizations: Rotary International, Women’s Executive Council (WEC); National Association for Catering and Events (NACE), Boys & Girls Clubs, Boy Scouts of America and J4, a Woman’s Christian Leadership Organization, and Northland Church.

Chef Isabella Morgia Di Vicari’s 2015 P2P People’s Choice Award Winning Chicken Meatball Recipe

“What Can I Bring?” By: Isabella Morgia Di Vicari

 

 

Ryan Vargas, Chef de Cuisine at Emeril’s Tchoup ChopChef Ryan Vargas

Equipped with more than 20 years of experience in the culinary arts, Ryan Vargas took the helm at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando as chef de cuisine in October 2013.

Vargas, a Hawaii native, joined Emeril’s Tchoup Chop after spending about 13 years leading the kitchens at some of the island’s top resorts, including the Four Seasons Resort in Hualalai and the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua Maui. Before moving to Orlando, Vargas also led the kitchen at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where in 2011 he was voted as “Palm Beach County Best Chef” by the Palm Beach Post.

Growing up on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii, Vargas looked up to his father, who was the Master Chief Chef for the U.S. Navy, and inherited his love of great cuisine.

“He would take me to the mess hall, and I recall being excited and amazed with the sights, sounds and smells,” Vargas remembers. “I knew at the age of 5 that I wanted to follow in my dad’s footsteps.”

Complementing Executive Chef Emeril Lagasse’s bold and fresh flavors, Vargas describes his style of cooking as “fun and whimsical, classics-with-a-twist, and not complicated but refined.” His techniques and styles reflect the melting pot of island life, mixing different Asian cuisines with Pacific Island influences.

Classically trained, Vargas graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y. in 1991 with an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts. He lives in Orlando with his wife, Rhonda, and their three children, Lakea, Lilinoe and Rocco.

Chef Ryan Vargas’ Grilled Mojo Chicken Recipe