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Published on : Thursday, July 14, 2016
Orlando, Florida, once known as the chain restaurant mecca, has evolved into a destination that’s full of flavour, with a vibrant dining scene and award-winning restaurants appealing to all tastes and cultures. At the hub of Orlando’s growth as a culinary destination is Four Seasons Resort Orlando at Walt Disney World Resort, which has set the Orlando dining scene on fire since its opening in August 2014. The Resort has achieved national acclaim namely with its signature rooftop Spanish-influenced steakhouse, Capa.
Capa was named as one of Wine Enthusiast magazine’s 100 Best Wine Restaurants in the US, to be featured in the August 2016 print issue, alongside the likes of such renowned restaurants as The French Laundry in Yountville, California and Gramercy Tavern in New York City. Capa is the only Orlando restaurant to be named to the elite list.
“I’m excited about what the Food and Beverage team have accomplished and how they continue to innovate. They are not only raising awareness of our Resort’s incredible dining options, but are truly helping to put Orlando on the map as a destination for gourmands,” says Thomas Steinhauer, Regional Vice President and General Manager of Four Seasons Resort Orlando.
The Passionate “Foodie”
The secret to the Resort’s culinary success – in addition to the food of course – is definitely the people. As the largest Four Seasons property in North America, the Resort offers six dynamic restaurants – Capa, Ravello, PB&G, Plancha, The Lobby Bar and Lickety Split. These big restaurant concepts require a big personality and an abundance of energy to run them, and that’s accomplished by Director of Food and Beverage Stephen Wancha. The amicable, always-on-the-go Wancha is as captivating as he is knowledgeable, and when it comes to food and beverage, Wancha is undoubtedly an expert and a self-proclaimed foodie. Travelling whenever he gets the chance, always experiencing the destination’s top restaurants, Wancha returns inspired. He has big ideas and sets them into motion. He’s responsible for sourcing the best team in the business, establishing unique collaborations, bringing acclaimed culinarians to serve as guest chefs at special dinner events, and continuously motivates the staff to elevate their creativity and deliver cuisine that Orlando has been, quite simply, waiting for.
How it Begins – Cultivating and Energising Top Talent
Wancha strives to have only the most dedicated, passionate people on his team. For years, he has served on the recruitment committee for the Culinary Institute of America, regularly travelling cross country to interview and recruit top talent. He cultivates a unique camaraderie within his team, and simple efforts such as a monthly “family meal” served for the entire team in each of Resort’s restaurants, with a rotating theme, energise the staff, keeping the excitement high and instilling a sense of passion and commitment to Four Seasons product and service. Team members regularly travel across the globe for educational purposes to ensure they are delivering the most authentic product possible, resulting in some of the most flavourful fare in all of Florida.
If one can picture a chef who walks around seemingly happy everywhere he goes, with a giant smile on his face, who radiates charm and has a thick Italian accent – that is Executive Chef Fabrizio Schenardi. Born near Torino, Italy and raised above his grandparents’ bakery, Schenardi literally grew up in a kitchen. His passion for his Italian cuisine is evident in his cooking, as Ravello has raised the bar for Italian in the Orlando area. Schenardi and team make all of the pasta, pizza dough, and breads fresh in house. Many of the recipes Schenardi uses are passed down from his grandmother; some updated with a “Fabrizio twist” to give them a modern edge. Schenardi is known for making his own limoncello and often bringing some for guests to sample. He also makes a majority of the Resort’s charcuterie in house. In 2015, Schenardi was honoured in Italy with a prestigious award called the Paolo Bertani Award for his achievements in the industry. While Ravello is Schenardi’s “baby,” and where he naturally feels right at home, Schenardi oversees the entire culinary team, and menu creation at all of the Resort’s restaurants.