Fun Food Events for Nov 26-Dec 2: FusionFest and More


Here are some quick tips for fun food events around Orlando this week, including FusionFest, Jaleo Academy and more.

Tis the season we move from pumpkin spice to peppermint, but maybe you still have some sliced Thanksgiving turkey in the fridge. Maybe you want a way to freshen up those leftovers. We suggest you hit the Winter Park Farmers Market on Saturday. In the current print edition of Edible Orlando, Anna Marie Mele (aka The Pesto Diva) says she loves her own Spanish olive and habanero pepper pesto on turkey sandwiches instead of mayo. (For more ideas about what to do with leftover turkey, collards and cornbread,  click here!)

Edible Orlando writer John Graham has made a list, and checked it twice, of the best bits of food fun around Central Florida this week, Saturday to Friday.

Small Business Saturday, FusionFest, Gingerbread School

Small Business Saturday was cooked up by American Express in 2010 as a day to support local businesses. That could mean doing your holiday shopping or taking a break for lunch or dinner. Here’s three new local spots to get you started: Simply Cheese in Winter Park has more than 40 cheeses on hand to sample and buy, as well as wine, charcuterie boards, boxes, and even in a snack cup. Deadwords Brewing Company brewpub in Orlando’s Parramore District just won a gold medal at the 2022 Great American Beer Festival for its American lager, Bridge. Red Panda Noodle will pop up 6 – 9 p.m. at a Small Business Saturday edition of the Thornton Park District Circle Night Market. Red Panda is from Eliot Hillis and Seth Parker who left Orlando Meats to start their own concept.

The fifth annual FusionFest is both Saturday (10 a.m. – 8 p.m.) and Sunday (noon – 6 p.m.) in downtown Orlando on Seneff Arts Plaza at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. FusionFest is a sharing of cultures and live music and dance and arts from around the world, but of course, we want to talk about the food! That’s empanadas from Puerto Rico, red plantains and beef stew from Ghana, Tex-Mex tacos, vegan springs rolls from Vietnam and more. You can ever try the winners of the fusion cooking contest earlier this year – including a fried banana ball stuffed with smoked chicken tikka masala. Admission is free, but of course, you buy food and drink.

Starting Saturday at both 9 a.m. and noon, the Ritz-Carlton Orlando Grande Lakes pastry team will be teaching Gingerbread School, which continues on specific days right up to Christmas Eve. A table of four is $225. You build a gingerbread house together from pre-baked panels on a wood foundation, then decorate and personalize it with dozens of kinds of candy. Gingerbread School will also be held on Sunday as well as Dec. 10 and 11, and then every day between Dec. 17 and Dec 24. Classes are small, but they’re also held several times a day. Reservations are required at 407-393-4034. The Ritz-Carlton lobby also has a life-size gingerbread house made with 990 pounds of flour, 415 pounds of sugar, and five pounds each of ground ginger and ground cinnamon.

Mocktails, Jaleo Academy

Mocktails – cocktails without alcohol – are trending and on Monday, you can learn how to make three herbal holiday mocktails at home. American Council on Exercise-certified health coach Julia Ward will teach the class at Winter Park’s Center for Health & Wellbeing, 6:30 – 7:30 p.m. You’ll learn to make a hawthorn berry cordial, a holiday nut nog, and a Christmas kale mocktini. Ward is also a chef, specializing in plant-based food and drink. Tickets for the class are $15, but sales end Friday so act fast.

Dinner at Jaleo Academy returns to Disney Springs on Thursday, 6:30 – 9:30 p.m. The Jaleo concept was created by Chef José Andrés whose World Central Kitchen has fed millions of people in humanitarian, climate, and community crises. At Jaleo Academy, chefs will take you through the flavors of Spain with drinks and classic tapas before a four-course dinner and demonstration of recipes you can recreate at home. That includes gazpacho remolacha (chilled beet soup), butifarra casera (pork sausage with white beans), and tarta de queso vasca (“burnt” Basque cheesecake). Tickets are $250 per person and each class has only sixteen spaces. Jaleo Academy will also return on Dec. 15.

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