Heather McPherson covers food and restaurants for the Orlando Sentinel.

She co-wrote two cookbooks celebrating Florida fare including "Field ...

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Heather McPherson

Heather McPherson

The Dish

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Easter brunches hop to every taste

March 27, 2015

It's time to get cracking on Easter dinner plans. For those who don't want to cook, local resorts and restaurants are prepared to do everything for you — including the dishes. Here is a sampling of where to meet the Easter Bunny and enjoy a holiday meal on April 5. Prices do not include tax and gratuity:

  • Dinner with a breath of fresh air

    March 27, 2015

    With daylight saving time our evenings are a little brighter. Here are 20 places in Central Florida that are great for al fresco meals.

  • Passover, Easter menus celebrate renewal

    March 26, 2015

    Spring cleaning includes going through the kitchen cabinets to make sure those boxes and containers of food and spices aren't older than your children. At I have a game plan so you don't overlook a thing. In the meantime, let's dish.

  • Easter brunches hop to every taste

    March 20, 2015

    It's time to get cracking on Easter dinner plans. For those who don't want to cook, local resorts and restaurants are prepared to do everything for you — including the dishes. Here is a sampling of where to meet the Easter Bunny and enjoy a holiday meal on April 5. Prices do not include tax and gratuity:

  • Florida stoked for great barbecue

    March 11, 2015

    When the aroma of aged wood and caramelizing sauce permeates the Central Florida spring it's a good bet there's a serious barbecue competition underway. If you are looking for a seasonal weekend activity with great food, I have two words for you: Barbecue contest.

  • Alfond Inn hosts 5 chefs for 5 charities

    March 11, 2015

    Few national cuisines make use of the lowly potato the way Irish cooks do. The true Irish St. Patrick's Day reveler would never sully their beer with emerald green food coloring. But you can count on the faithful to make sure potatoes in one form or another are on Tuesday's party menus. Check out for our test-kitchen recipes. In the meantime, let's dish:

  • A homegrown, homemade fest

    March 4, 2015

    Showcasing Central Florida's best farm-to-table restaurants and artisanal food purveyors, Eat Local Week is Saturday-March14. This celebration casts a spotlight on the chefs, farms and individuals who support homegrown fare.

  • How Beard semifinalists stack up

    February 27, 2015

    Central Florida is once again in the national culinary spotlight. Five local chefs are contenders in the annual James Beard Foundation awards.

  • 5 ways to dive into National Nutrition Month

    February 26, 2015

    The 2015 Orlando Sentinel Culinary Hall of Fame has been bumped one week. March 5 you'll meet the 10 Central Floridians who have made significant contributions to how we eat, drink and dine. We began saluting these trailblazers in 2008. The story includes farmers, chefs and community organizers with a passion for mentoring, a commitment to quality and a vision for the future. While we go over the pronunciation of their names with John Travolta, you can grab the daily dish:

  • Feeding the weekend road warrior

    February 20, 2015

    On any given weekend there are lots of nearby options for food lovers with a hankering for quick travel or staying within the city limits.

  • The great Cheddar Bay biscuit throwdown

    February 19, 2015

    Congrats to Orlando's own fab retro-rad Emily Ellyn, who won last weekend's episode of "Cutthroat Kitchen" on the Food Network. The "Whatchoo Taco'ing About, Alton?" show will be repeated at 11 p.m. Feb. 26 and 2 a.m. Feb. 27. You can check out guest judge Anne Burrell's video comments at But first, let's dish:

  • Perfect match: Feb. 14 and chocolate

    February 13, 2015

    It's crunch time, Cupid. If you didn't make a dinner reservation, start planning that home-cooked menu immediately. If you are still without a gift, welcome back to the Christmas Eve Santa scramble. If chocolate is your fall back, let's skip that drug-store sampler and give some local love.

  • Girl Scout Cookie alert: Welcome to Thin Mint world

    February 12, 2015

    The Central Florida cookie jar is overflowing with Thin Mints, Peanut Butter Patties, Lemonades and more. Last year, Girl Scouts of Citrus Council sold more than a million boxes of the treats. Many troops have taken orders and direct sales are underway through March 1. Cookies are $4-$5 per box. Proceeds from local sales stay with the Citrus Council to fund programs, maintain camps and properties.

  • Party of 2? Your table is ready

    February 10, 2015

    Central Florida restaurants have sweet deals for Valentine's Day. Reservations are filling up fast for the Feb. 14 celebration. Here is a sampling of local specials (not all prices include tax and gratuity):

  • Zora appreciation continues at kitchen table

    February 5, 2015

    Eatonville just wrapped up its Zora! Festival, a wonderful celebration of community and arts that honors the legacy of author and former resident Zora Neale Hurston. Now a new book, "Zora Neale Hurston on Florida Food: Recipes, Remedies and Simple Pleasures,"shares her research on African-American foodways in Florida. Author Frederick Douglass Opie explores the lingering impact of Hurston's work and Florida food while incorporating recipes that remain essential today. Published by The History Press, look for it in bookstores. Now, let's dish:

  • Skip the Oreos, take a bite of real red velvet

    January 29, 2015

    It's time to map out a comfortable place on the couch to watch the Seattle Seahawks and the New England Patriots — and those fab commercials. Super Bowl XLIX kicks off at 6:30 p.m. Sunday on WESH-Channel 2. I'll have a countdown to game day with recipes posted through Sunday at In the meantime, let's dish:

  • 'Good Catch' explores state's fishing culture

    January 24, 2015

    After 26 years as food editor at the Orlando Sentinel, Heather McPherson knows a lot about food in Florida.

  • Plenty to like on local dining scene

    January 23, 2015

    Next week in Calendar we reveal the winners of the 17th annual Foodie Awards, which honors the best in Central Florida dining. This week I am a bit overwhelmed with guilt that there just can't be a category for everyone who deserves one.

  • Rolex Taste of the 24 in Daytona redefines fast food

    January 16, 2015

    Race fans will be heading to Daytona Beach on Jan. 24 for the Rolex 24 Hours at Daytona endurance race and Feb. 14-22 when Budweiser Speedweeks shift into high gear.

  • Florida strawberries sweeten local markets

    January 15, 2015

    Florida strawberries harvested from November through April are nutritional powerhouses. One serving of about eight strawberries packs more vitamin C than an orange, or about 140 percent of the U.S. recommended dietary consumption. In addition, the red gems are rich in antioxidants, fiber and nitrates and offer a decent punch of potassium, magnesium, iron, vitamin B6 and calcium. Today at check our test-kitchen recipes and guide to local you-pick operations. In the meantime, let's dish:

  • Cooking tips to make 2015 more flavorful

    January 8, 2015

    Join me this weekend at the Crimeline Chili Cook-Off at Seminole Harley-Davidson (620 Hickman Circle in Sanford). From 11 a.m.-2 p.m. on Saturday, $5 gets you all the chili you can taste. I'll be there judging along with the stars of Real Radio 104.1. If you want to register a team, email But first, let's dish:

  • JJ's Grille: Global infusion of flavor

    January 2, 2015

    There's an explosion of flavor going on Orlando's Curry Ford Road.

  • 10 cooking, shopping trends to watch in 2015

    January 1, 2015

    Food and beverage trend trackers are predicting a boldly flavored, healthful year for the home cook. I checked in with two top industry marketing firms and researchers at McCormick & Co. for 10 things to watch for in 2015. Consider it your daily dish:

  • What to do with Christmas leftovers

    December 30, 2014

    Congratulations, you made it to Christmas Day. Enjoy your time with loved ones and all the festivities you have planned, but don't lose that holiday momentum. The season of celebration is still in full throttle. Kwanzaa feasts, New Year's Eve parties, bowl-game gatherings and Epiphany dinners are pending on the calendar. Grab another cup of eggnog, and let's dish:

  • A good year for food lovers

    December 24, 2014

    From comfort food to wonderful showcases of Asian fare and immersions into Basque cookery, our dining choices expanded in a variety of ways in 2014.

  • Easy and inexpensive gifts from the kitchen

    December 18, 2014

    Set aside the wrapping paper and ribbons, pour yourself a deserved libation and let's dish:

  • Christmas dinner with all the trimmings

    December 16, 2014

    On a holiday, dinner out can be the best gift of all. Local hotels and resorts are always good bets for Christmas Eve and Christmas Day dining, and many restaurants are planning lavish menus as well. Here is a sampling of what's on the menu Dec. 24 and Dec. 25. Prices do not include tax and tip.

  • Hanukkah menus with a sense of place

    December 11, 2014

    Goggles on, boys and girls. The test-kitchen food processor is wobbling like a Tilt-A-Whirl at the county fair. Before the holiday tidbits go wild, let's dish:

  • Central Florida holiday bits and bites

    December 5, 2014

    Holiday events in small Central Florida towns are wonderful weekend excursions. Getting out of the Orlando area makes for entertaining and inexpensive getaways and offers food lovers a chance to explore interesting independent eateries.

  • How to paint your holiday cookies

    December 4, 2014

    The Test Kitchen is in holiday overdrive. In the next few weeks we will be sharing almost everything you need to know for fab celebrations and great gifts from the kitchen. Today's lesson: How to paint your cookies.

  • Feeding the Black Friday frenzy

    November 28, 2014

    On Black Friday power shopping could be an Olympic sport.

  • Thanksgiving leftovers make quick meals, treats

    November 27, 2014

    Don't think of today's Thanksgiving meal aftermath as a pile of leftovers; think of it as a refrigerator full of opportunities to stretch the grocery budget. Just about everything on the table can be transformed into new meals for the coming weekend or repackaged and frozen for later in the holiday season.

  • Thanksgiving dinner? Check please

    November 24, 2014

    While the rest of Central Florida is searching for their giblets on Nov. 27, your date with a turkey could be as easy as driving to a local restaurant and being served. Here is a sampling of eateries open Thanksgiving Day. Many require reservations, so be sure to call ahead of time. Prices do not include tax and gratuity.

  • Florida food gifts have local flavor

    November 24, 2014

    If you are shopping for something special for friends and loved ones, consider something with a sweet or savory sense of place. From cookbooks to sauces, local purveyors have enough choices to fill Santa's sleigh.

  • Pig Floyd's review: 'Cue with sass and sizzle

    November 21, 2014

    Pig Floyd's Urban Barbakoa is the cool kids' answer to straightforward Southern barbecue in Central Florida. With swell global spins this place — from the folks who created the popular TreeHouse Truck — simply sizzles with flavor.

  • Spatchcock cooking can be T-Day lifesaver

    November 20, 2014

    We are one week away from the Thanksgiving Day feast. Do you know where your giblets are? This week and next we're sharing recipe and tips to help you through the first major meal of the season in fine form. In the meantime, let's dish:

  • The Thanksgiving countdown has begun

    November 13, 2014

    Whether this is your first Thanksgiving or your 61st, we all have a lot of expectations for this month's big meal. If you can set aside the stuff you have no control over and concentrate on the planning and presentation, that instant-read thermometer you have in your hand might not reveal you are about to implode at the mere thought of 20 people coming for dinner. Here are five things you can do to avoid a giblet-infused meltdown on Nov. 27.

  • Time to pick your favorite Orlando restaurants

    November 6, 2014

    It's time to vote for your favorite restaurants in the Orlando Sentinel's 17th Annual Foodie Awards. The online ballot has more than 45 categories including fine-dining, wine list, breakfast, brunch, power lunch, food trucks, coffeehouses and bars that serve exceptional food. The results — along with my picks — will appear in the Calendar section in January. All votes must be cast by midnight Dec. 31. So put down that fork and vote today at In the meantime, let's dish:

  • Volusia farm tour celebrates local growers

    October 30, 2014

    Volusia County's 33rd annual farm tour includes 10 sites that showcase the diversity of that area's agriculture. Two self-guided tours will be available on Nov. 21 and have designated times for each stop. Among my favorite foodie-centric stops this year are Pauline's Lucky Market Garden, Vo-LaSalle Farms, Tomazin Family Farm, Tropical Blossom Honey Co. and Green Flamingo Organics. For a schedule and map, call the Volusia County Extension Office at 386-822-5778 or check out

  • Pumpkins rule Halloween homestretch

    October 23, 2014

    Good grief, Charlie Brown, where's the pumpkin patch? Well, there's a website for that. At you will find a guide to local church and community sites that have dedicated lots for the gorgeous orange orbs. In the meantime, let's dish:

  • Friends to remember chef Charlie Trotter with tribute in Orlando

    October 22, 2014

    Florida chef Norman Van Aken will host a reception in December at the swanky Orlando Ritz-Carlton to honor Charlie Trotter, a Chicago-based chef who died in 2013 and was revered as one of America's top culinary talents and restaurateurs.

  • Lake farm tour highlights local foods

    October 16, 2014

    The 2014 Lake County Farm Tour is Nov. 19 from 8 a.m. to 4 p.m. Participants will visit four local farms, have lunch and a wine tasting, and learn about the agriculture in Central Florida. The $30 ticket covers the tour, transportation, lunch and snacks. Stops will include Lake Catherine Blueberry Farm in Groveland, Lakeridge Winery and Vineyards in Clermont and Long and Scott Farm and Country Store in the Mount Dora-Zellwood area. The annual program is sponsored by UF/IFAS Lake County Extension. Seminole County has a similar tour in the spring.

  • Top 5: Chowing down in Clermont

    October 10, 2014

    Before Winter Garden gussied up its historic downtown and had a renewed growth spurt, Clermont was the popular western destination for out-of-the-way finds.

  • Catch of the day: National Seafood Month

    October 9, 2014

    Florida ranks among the Top 12 states for fresh seafood production, according to the Florida Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services. Commercial fishers in the Sunshine State catch more than 84 percent of the nation's supply of grouper, pompano, mullet, stone crab, pink shrimp, spiny lobsters and Spanish mackerel. Today at look for recipes, including fish tacos (pictured), that celebrate National Seafood Month. But before you drop a line, let's dish:

  • Polish off a plate of local Polish fare

    September 24, 2014

    With cooler weather on the way heartier fare is more tempting. Central Florida's Polish restaurants fill the bill with kielbasa, potato pancakes, pierogies, stews, sauerkraut and more.

  • Kappo opens at East End Market

    September 23, 2014

    Kappo at East End Market is home to the seven most coveted dining seats in town. With less than 10 stools at the bar, the small Japanese eatery carved out of a small booth near the back of the eclectic marketplace has foodies jockeying for places and planning visits to avoid peak lunch and dinner times.

  • Restaurant review: Blackfin in Maitland

    July 27, 2014

    Developer Eric Kovar has resurrected Blackfin, taking the restaurant concept he created in 2000 in Winter Park Village to nearby Maitland. Seafood is the star but there is more to like.

  • Shake it up before Shake Shack

    July 25, 2014

    If you thought Trader Joe's caused a traffic jam at the intersection of Morse Boulevard and U.S. Highway 17-92, just wait until Shake Shack opens Wednesday, July 30 in the same Lakeside development in Winter Park.

  • Top 5 gourmet delis for hungry cooks on the go in Orlando

    July 16, 2014

    Sure it's easy to find a restaurant for a quick meal when the sign outside screams "Eat Here!" But what about food lovers on a mission with a lengthy shopping list and food errands to check off?

  • Chefs ready to celebrate Mom

    April 25, 2014

    Here is just a sampling of local restaurant specials for Mother's Day

  • Artisan's Table in downtown Orlando is in good hands

    April 13, 2014

    The new Artisan's Table in downtown Orlando has a lot going for it.

  • Hop on these Easter dining specials

    April 11, 2014

    Easter dinner with family and friends is a much anticipated spring occasion. For those who don't want to cook, local resorts and restaurants are prepared to do everything for you — including the dishes.

  • East End celebrates local flavor

    February 13, 2014

    East End Market is a thriving showcase of Central Florida food artisans and other merchants in Orlando's Audubon Park neighborhood.

  • A bite of Thanksgiving dinner year-round in Orlando

    November 29, 2013

    The Thanksgiving tables have been cleared. The leftovers are packed in the refrigerator. And party planners have turned their thoughts to the remaining days of Hanukkah, Christmas, Kwanzaa and New Year's celebrations.

  • More gluten-free pizza choices

    October 18, 2013

    Pizza is a year-round comfort food favorite, but I'd wager there's an uptick in demand with fall tailgates and after-school activities.

  • Eat local: National Farmers Market Week

    July 31, 2013

    Looking for a market on the upswing? Think farm-fresh produce and meats. National Farmers Market Week is Aug. 4-10, and there are 7,864 such marketplaces listed in a directory compiled by the U.S. Department of Agriculture. This is a 9.6 percent increase from 2011. Florida has a wealth of farmers markets — an informal online search found almost 400 — and you can locate them at,, and Before you head out to support local farmers, let's dish:

  • Disney's bakery hidden A.M. secret

    May 10, 2013

    The French bakery and cafe invasion of Central Florida is still on the move with several new outposts, including one at Epcot's World Showcase

  • Orlando Sentinel restaurant review: Burgers are tops at B&B Junction

    March 22, 2013

    B&B Junction in Winter Park is one of the latest eateries to jump on the farm-to-table bandwagon and it may be the first burger joint to do so.

  • Lunch at Be Our Guest, a new Fantasyland restaurant in Orlando

    December 7, 2012

    With this week's opening of the new Fantasyland, dining options have expanded for guests at Walt Disney World's Magic Kingdom theme park

  • Storm emergency kit: Comfort food and fuel

    May 22, 2012

    When it's this hot, one can only think of cool foods. Today at my blog, check out the super suppers that won't turn the kitchen into a steam bath.

  • Where to eat outdoors in Orlando

    March 8, 2012

    Come Sunday our evenings will be a little brighter with the advent of daylight-saving time. Here are 15 places in — or very near — downtown Orlando that are great for alfresco meals. Each has its own personality and pluses.

  • Over-the-top hotel gingerbread displays

    December 21, 2011

    Gifts wrapped? Check. Cookies baked? Check. Reindeer food ready? Check. Roof cleared for sleigh landing? Check. Bring it, Santa, Florida is ready. While we await Claus & Co., let's dish:

  • Legoland builds on healthful fare

    October 14, 2011

    Legoland Florida executive chef Robert K. Sit has his own set of building blocks.

  • And the 13th Annual Foodie Awards winners are...

    January 28, 2011

    Welcome to the Foodies, our annual celebration of the Central Florida dining scene. It's a smorgasbord that features quick serve to haute cuisine and everything in between. In Calendar and in Sunday's Travel & Arts, I weigh in weekly with my opinion about local restaurants. The Foodies are your turn to tout your favorite restaurants from Volusia to Osceola counties. I have noted my picks, too, but yours lead the charge in this annual dinner party showcasing the best in local cafes, bistros and posh rooms.

  • Easter brunches hop to every taste

    March 25, 2010

    Cooking a celebration meal on Easter is nice, but eating out is a real treat. Most hotels have wonderful buffets and several restaurants will have special spring spreads on April 4 catering to a wide range of tastes and budgets. Reservations are a must for holiday meals, so hop to it today. Here's an overview of Easter brunches and specials. Prices do not include gratuity and taxes:

  • The confections of our affection

    February 11, 2010

    You may be out of luck for Valentine's Day dinner reservations at your favorite fancy restaurant, but there's plenty of time to pick up an indulgence that will surely make your sweetheart blush with excitement.

  • Location is prime, but Pesca needs to step it up

    September 24, 2009

    There are many reasons why a restaurant should succeed. And you may think that my hope for the spot currently occupied by Pesca Lakeside in downtown Orlando is too nostalgic.

  • Lake's JJ Fin's reels in a winning concept

    July 9, 2009

    When you walk inside JJ Fin's there are few reminders of its former incarnations as Dead River Vic's or Harborside. The space that once had the interior ambience of a badly lit Denny's is now welcoming and fun.

  • Restaurant review: 4 of 5 stars for Orlando's I-Drive area's Cantina Laredo

    April 8, 2009

    Just when you think they couldn't squeeze any more restaurants on Orlando's Restaurant Row, the Dellagio complex rises to the occasion along Sand Lake Road.



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