FoodieAwards | OS Events


Experience the Best of Orlando's Vibrant Culinary Scene!


Local Chefs - Top Bartenders - Live Music & Dancing  


THURSDAY MAY 17, 2018 

6-9 PM


22 S. Magnolia Avenue

Downtown Orlando 


General Admission $50

Smart Casual or Party Attire. Must be 21+ to attend 

The Orlando Sentinel Foodie Awards program has been recognizing the best food and dining experiences in Central Florida for 20 years, and to celebrate we're kicking off an annual celebration! 


We're inviting local foodies and the entire culinary community to indulge in some of the best flavors Central Florida has to offer. Inspired by food reporter Lauren Delgado and our passionate readers, the evening will feature our 2018 Foodie Award winners and finalists; and invite guests to sample dishes and drinks from more than 20 restaurants, enjoy live entertainment, and experience some special surprises throughout the night.

Lauren Delgado

Enjoy Live Entertainment! 

Featured Chefs 

Chef Norman Van Aken

Among his many masteries as a chef, Norman Van Aken is best known for introducing “fusion” into the lexicon of modern cookery and considered to be the founding father of New World Cuisine – a celebration of Latin, Caribbean, Asian, African and American flavors.  He is the only Florida chef inducted into the prestigious James Beard list of “Who’s Who in American Food and Beverage,” is a James Beard Award winner for Best Chef Southeast, and is a 2016 MenuMasters Hall of Fame inductee along with Jacques Pépin and Wolfgang Puck.


He has represented the United States with international recognitions that include being honored alongside Alice Waters, Paul Prudhomme and Mark Miller as one of the “Founders of New American Cuisine” at Spain’s International Summit of Gastronomy ‘Madrid Fusión’ (2006) and represented the State of Florida at the USA Pavilion at EXPO Milano as part of the World’s Fair (2015). In addition to NORMAN's at the Ritz Carlton Orlando, Van Aken's most recent critically acclaimed restaurants include 1921 by Norman Van in Mount Dora and Three Restaurant and No. 3 Social Rooftop Bar & Lounge in Miami's Wynwood district.

Chef Jenn Ross

I'm Chef Jenn, owner of DaJen Eats, where we focus on vegan living with a Jamaican flair. I am the owner of DaJen Eats Cafe & Creamery in Orlando - the first vegan restaurant in a gas station. I proudly create Irie Cream, my line of deliciously dairy-free ice cream - recently listed as one of the Top 50 Desserts in the US, by VegNews Magazine. I came to America alone at 16, quickly learning in order to continue enjoying certain luxuries like eating and living inside, I needed to stop eating out. That started my love-affair with cooking and food science. I've learned some great tips and techniques along the way. I'll share them with you.  Let's cook together.

Chef Francesco Aiello

In Southern Italy, where Chef Francesco Aiello was raised, picking fresh vegetables from locally grown garden was simply the way of life. The Chef believes freshness is the most important thing. Chef personal works with local farmers to bring the “farm to the table” concept to Francesco’s Ristorante. Francesco says that in Italy the culture has always been to pick the freshest vegetables and use the in cooking. “Farm to table was simply the way things were done.” In keeping with Chef Francesco’s most important cooking rule, use only the highest quality, using the freshest greens add a signature taste to every entrée that he creates. Using really fresh products allows distinctive Italian flavors to shine through. The Chef has introduces “living greens in Francesco’s; several vertical gardens located in the restaurant provide fresh greens in a variety of ways. Through innovation and exploration Chef Francesco is constantly raising the bar for great food at Francesco’s Ristorante.

Chef James Slattery

Executive Chef James Slattery has resided over Big Fin™’s kitchen since it’s opening in the fall of 2009. Prior to working at Big Fin™ he resided as Executive Chef at Circa on Park Avenue in Winter Park.

Chef Slattery’s career in the culinary world began in the late 1990’s at Emeril’s restaurant at Universal’s City Walk. Before becoming a chef, Slattery worked in sales in the chemistry field. One night in a hotel room in North Carolina he was channel surfing and happened upon the food network, a 24 hour cooking channel. It was around 8pm and a new show called Emeril Live was starting. Slattery was hooked. A year later at a book signing, Slattery met Chef Emeril and asked him what it would take to work in one of his restaurants. Chef Emeril replied “a passion for food.” After being laid off from his sales job 2 days later, Slattery was able to finagle an interview with Chef Zachary Martin and Chef Bernard Carmouche (Emeril’s opening team). Although the lack of kitchen experience showed, the Emeril’s chefs hired Slattery as a part of their opening team.

On January 18th 1999, Slattery began his new career and as he puts it, “his culinary degree.” By 2003 Slattery had advanced to sous chef and was moved to Emeril’s second Orlando restaurant Tchoup Chop at the Royal Pacific Hotel. It was here that he was promoted to Executive Sous Chef and worked until 2007.
At this time Chef Slattery moved to A Land Remembered, the steak house at the Rosen Shingle Creek Resort. This move was a promotion for him to Executive Chef or as Slattery states, “graduation from Emeril’s culinary school” where he oversaw this restaurant for the next several years.

Chef Slattery’s background is in chemistry, where he earned both a Bachelor’s and Master’s degree from the University of Central Florida. He uses his educational background on a daily basis in the restaurant, mixing ingredients and creating combinations of flavors for his dishes.

Chef Slattery is very proud to be a part of Big Fin™’s success and looks forward to continuing to prepare dishes using his chemistry background, his classical techniques and above all, his creativity.


 Restaurants Partners: