Category Archives: Wellington Table – Signature Dish

New Kaluz Restaurant Features A Fresh Look At New American Cuisine

New Kaluz Restaurant Features A Fresh Look At New American Cuisine

Kaluz Restaurant, an upscale dining experience serving New American cuisine, recently opened its doors for business in Wellington. Serving a full menu of classical New American entrées and offering a wide selection of wine to please any palate, General Manager Patrick O’Keefe aims to create and deliver a fresh and unique experience to the Wellington area.

Five years after the opening of its original location in Fort Lauderdale, Kaluz opened its new Wellington location late last month on Forest Hill Blvd. in front of the Mall at Wellington Green, creating a new setting perfect for locals to enjoy intimate lunches and dinners.

The restaurant is set to provide those in the Wellington area with an exceptional experience each time they visit. O’Keefe’s goal is to make sure that all those who dine at Kaluz feel relaxed, cared for and, of course, satisfied with their choice of dining experiences.

This, O’Keefe said, is one of the restaurant’s unique attributes that will set Kaluz apart in Wellington.

“We hope to provide a great food and service experience in a warm and friendly environment where every guest feels like they are the most important person in the building,” he said.

Wellington was a fitting community for Kaluz’s second branch, O’Keefe said, bringing a distinct new dining option to the area. The sleek, modern and clean-looking aesthetic of the building is inviting to diners looking for a restaurant to enjoy anything from a quiet romantic dinner to a comforting lunch with friends.

The restaurant’s success in Fort Lauderdale has earned Kaluz the reputation of a restaurant that people go all out for, dressing up in their best clothes and making an event out of their dining experience.

The Wellington restaurant will hold a total of 275 guests, with an open 45-table dining room, a 35-seat island bar and 15 tables on a covered outside seating area. Those dining at the restaurant will have views of calming waterfall features, the open-exhibition kitchen and the many architectural focal points throughout the facility. “Every seat in the restaurant has a view,” O’Keefe said.

Along with its standout environment, Kaluz provides a high-quality menu designed to satisfy the desires of most people. The menu duplicates Kaluz’s Fort Lauderdale menu, which includes daily featured dishes during every lunch and dinner.

Kaluz’s menu is highly influenced by the Fort Lauderdale location’s proximity to the water, which has resulted in a menu containing a wide range of skillfully designed seafood dishes.

“Because of Fort Lauderdale’s location, one out of every two plates leaving the kitchen is seafood generated,” O’Keefe explained.

Popular Kaluz appetizers include the smoked salmon dip, tuna tartare, sweet ginger calamari and chicken drum lollipops.

One of the restaurant’s most popular seafood dishes has been the Chilean sea bass. The plate consists of a hardwood-grilled nine-ounce portion of Chilean sea bass, served over a bed of sautéed asparagus, topped with sundried tomatoes and artichoke hearts and finished with a touch of citrus.

The dish, O’Keefe said, started out as a special featured item but was so popular and often requested that it was incorporated into the regular menu.

“It became one of our signature dishes,” he said.

Another popular plate is the scallops pomegranate. The scallops are pan-seared, paired with a mango compote and pomegranate reduction, and served with a chilled quinoa medley.

With its modern American theme, the restaurant serves a variety of other non-seafood entrée options, as well. The menu also features items ranging from different types of burgers, entrée salads, flatbreads, sandwiches and more.

“While the menu is seafood dominated, there are many options outside of the seafood realm,” O’Keefe explained.

One highly demanded item on the Kaluz menu is the lamb rack. The plate includes four New Zealand double-boned and herb-crusted lamb chops, served on a bed of shiitake polenta and heirloom carrots, finished with a balsamic pork reduction.

No matter what you order, you will not leave Kaluz wanting for more. “All of our entrees come with sides, and our dishes come in pretty large portions,” O’Keefe said.

Because a restaurant meal is not complete without dessert, the Kaluz menu lists a variety of warm and rich desserts to choose from, including a salted caramel brownie, bread pudding and key lime pie.

Chef Ian Carpenter fashions all of the menu items to perfection, aiming to cater to everyone individually, including those who have dietary restrictions, such as guests who require gluten-free meals or those who are vegetarian.

The bar offers, along with the extensive wine list featuring bottle or glass selections from across the world, 18 crafted cocktails, including mojitos, martinis and more, and a variety of scotches, cordials and cognacs to accompany dessert.

O’Keefe believes that Kaluz will please and satisfy the people of Wellington, just as it has been doing in Fort Lauderdale since 2013. He, and the restaurant’s 90-person staff, aim to provide visitors with an unforgettable experience that will keep them returning for more.

The new restaurant regularly serves lunch and dinner from 11:30 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Thursday, and 11:30 a.m. to 11 p.m. on Friday and Saturday.

Happy hour is available from 3 to 6 p.m. Monday through Friday.

Kaluz Restaurant is located at 2025 Wellington Green Drive just off Forest Hill Blvd. For more information, call (561) 784-5500 or visit www.kaluzrestaurant.com.

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Master Chef Chris Paul Enjoys Sharing His Unique Culinary Creations

Master Chef Chris Paul Enjoys Sharing  His Unique Culinary Creations

When you are one of only seven certified master fusion chefs in the world, its culinary cuisines become the paints upon your palette, to mix and contrast, then artfully place on a plate — your canvas. Art, however, is not truly appreciated until it is shared, which is Master Chef Chris Paul’s favorite part of what he does.

Chris Paul Falci grew up on a five-acre farm in Sussex County, N.J. Raising animals and working in the garden, he had an early relationship with food and its natural sources. After milking cows, collecting eggs, pulling up carrots and digging for potatoes, he would watch his mother cook family meals, helping where he could. His favorite pastime was eating the ice cream he made with her, using fresh cream.

When he was young, Chris had extensive food allergies and a diet that consisted of mostly chicken and applesauce. His allergies to additives, food coloring and sugar were such a problem that his mother made him his own ketchup and chewing gum. The health challenges he had to overcome as a child laid the foundation for the compassion he now feels for others, and why he always happily accommodates dietary restrictions in his cooking. It is also the driving force behind his unwillingness to compromise on quality, and his insistence on making every single recipe ingredient from scratch.

Not every five-year-old insists on sitting his parents down with a written menu, candles on the table and music on the radio while serving them peanut butter and jelly sandwiches with a towel over one arm. Even at that young age, Chris perceived eating as an experience, not a bare necessity.

“Food, for me, has always been a way to connect to nature, family, friends and my own sense of discovery. From the joy of picking fresh berries as a young boy, to hunting through markets for the freshest ingredients for my recipes as a chef, I have somehow always been aware that nourishing the body can also be a way of feeding the soul,” he explained. “Nature provides the mix of colors, textures and flavors that delight our senses. As a fusion chef, I take that array of palettes from different cultures and create innovative dishes that excite me as a culinary artist. Sharing that excitement with diners is what feeds my soul.”

Chris’ family is a mix of Italian, Irish, Scottish and German backgrounds that found its way to the family table. His grandparents were excellent cooks and provided him with a rich culinary background, but it was not until he arrived at culinary school that his taste buds were really set on fire.

It was when he studied in Australia, Mexico and New Zealand that fusion-style cooking attracted his interest and started his experimentation. He also found that most American couples he cooked for came from different ethnic backgrounds, which formed their food preferences. By combining the cuisines, he realized he was able to please both while finding his own “voice” for his food.

Chef Chris Paul’s family moved to Florida when he was 16 years old to help take care of ailing grandparents. Now, he is a longtime Wellington resident with his wife, Marisa, and three children: Madison, 16; Skyler, 14; and Gabriela, 12. He provided catering services in the local area for 14 years under the name Wild Orchids Catering. His many awards for his unique food and creative programs have brought him recognition far beyond Wellington’s borders.

For four seasons, Chris was a guest chef on the Lifetime Cable Network show “The Balancing Act.” When his son, Madison, was seven years old, he joined his father on an episode wearing a chef uniform and, as a teenager, shares his interest, cooking for the entire family.

Now Chef Chris Paul’s focus is mainly on intimate in-home dining, private parties and wine pairings. Local residents have had the opportunity to experience his cuisine through his Taste & See pop-up restaurants at the Polo West Club, Village Music Café, You Farm and Downtown at the Gardens.

With a culinary education that includes Johnson & Wales University, the Florida Culinary Institute and the New England Technical Institute, and certification in a wide variety of cuisines, Chris embodies none of the stuffiness and formality that one might expect from such credentials.

His love for both food and people, combined with his humor, humility and warmth, can probably be credited for the popularity of his interactive dinners.

“On a very personal level, I have experienced the importance of food to one’s health,” he said. “I will never compromise on the quality of my dishes, but I also want my food to please all the senses and, most of all, to be a joyful experience.”

For more information, contact Master Chef Chris Paul at tasteandseecp@gmail.com or visit www.tasteandseecp.com.

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Wellington National Golf Club Opens New Champions Bistro

Wellington National Golf Club Opens
New Champions Bistro

Wellington National Golf Club recently added to its repertoire with the grand opening of the new Champions Bistro. Already a Wellington staple in terms of country club living with its manicured 18-hole golf course, an active member social calendar and plenty of amenities, the club further increased its appeal with the addition of the new full-service restaurant.

Held in January, the grand opening was attended by more than 500 people, and the club is eager to continue to feed and entertain members and their guests. The opening comes after a successful year of growth and development for the club under owners Chip Smith, Andy Apple and Doug Marty.

“We have envisioned Champions Bistro for quite some time, and I know I speak for all of us at the club that we are thrilled to see it in its completion,” Marty said. “The restaurant has been met with great success, and we are grateful for the warm reception by our members, their guests and all who attended the grand opening. I’m looking forward to welcoming even more people to Champions Bistro to experience what it has to offer.”

Located on the pristine Travertine terrace just steps from the beautiful main clubhouse, Champions Bistro offers casual and classy indoor and outdoor dining for the sophisticated palate, with a spectacular view overlooking the 18th green rewarding diners seated at the specially crafted bar.

Interior features of the venue include an open-air kitchen element, as well as bold colors, and ample table and booth seating. The entirety of the club was recently enhanced by the addition of more than 100 curated pieces of hanging and standing art, and Champions Bistro was no exception. The restaurant’s modern concept is complemented by the golf and equestrian-themed luxury pieces from Chisholm Gallery.

Diners need not worry about a limited selection, as the extensive menu features a wide selection of hand-crafted foods with vegetarian and gluten-free selections, American fare, signature dishes and tantalizing desserts.

With a full-size bar and four large flat-screen TVs, Champions Bistro is the ideal locale for special happy hour events or simply catching up with friends over a drink. Featuring a beautiful and brand-new Napolitano pizza oven imported from Italy, diners are treated to personally brick-fired pizzas, which they can watch bake, thanks to the inviting open kitchen.

Open for business only a short time, the restaurant is already thriving under the supervision of Director of Food & Beverage Jordan Naftal. Bringing decades of expertise in the hospitality and culinary fields, he has the right ingredients to provide guests with outstanding food, innovative cocktails and superior service. “Members of Wellington National know to expect standout service around the club, and Champions Bistro is no different. We strive to provide delicious food in a relaxed atmosphere, and so far, our menu has been a big hit with our patrons,” Naftal said. “Though I enjoyed working on Champions Bistro as a project while it was being constructed, now that it is open, I love that I am able to spend my days serving our members in a new and exciting way.”

The grand opening took place the evening of Jan. 11, with many local celebrities, club members and others present for the unveiling of one of the best new restaurants in town. Wellington Mayor Anne Gerwig, WPTV news anchor Roxanne Stein and famed polo player Nic Roldan were but a few of the high-profile names in attendance.

Over the course of the evening, the grand opening featured multiple complimentary food and beverage options, including elegantly crafted hors d’ oeuvres, a signature butterscotch pecan whiskey cocktail and a unique pizza station utilizing the restaurant’s new pizza oven. The festive atmosphere was complemented by elegant outdoor lighting and an inventive laser show, as well as local performer Tom Blake’s smooth crooning. During the grand finale of the evening, the audience gathered for the ribbon-cutting ceremony.

“The grand opening of Champions Bistro marks one of the final chapters of turning this property into one of the finest private clubs in South Florida,” General Manager Ted Strelec said. “The club owners had a three-year goal, of which we are well ahead of schedule. The bistro adds another amenity that club members can enjoy: a relaxed family-friendly dining experience with fantastic views of the 18th green and resort-style pool area.”

Wellington National owners and staff are thankful to have opened the doors to the new restaurant, and are grateful for all the positive feedback. The club looks forward to a fruitful 2018 and invites all community members to stop by for a visit and tour the country club.

To learn more about Champions Bistro, or view the menu, visit www.wellingtonational golfclub.com. To learn about membership and events at Wellington National Golf Club, contact Julie Pickens at (561) 718-9656 or julie@wellingtonnationalgolf.com.

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New Polo Bar & Grill Pays Nostalgic Nod To Vintage Wellington

New Polo Bar & Grill Pays Nostalgic Nod To Vintage Wellington

For Gary Fellers and Jeanette Sassoon, Polo Bar & Grill is more than Wellington’s newest restaurant, it is a labor of love. Long-time residents, equestrians and owners of the iconic apparel store PoloGear USA, the husband-and-wife duo has seen the community evolve across the span of decades, from the very first polo game, in which Fellers played, to the village’s ever-changing skyline, shops and restaurants.

It is their love of the community that spurred the creation of Polo Bar & Grill, designed to pay a nostalgic nod to vintage Wellington and its equestrian roots.

The newly renovated restaurant, located at Polo West Golf & Equestrian off of South Shore Blvd. in the epicenter of Wellington, fuses modern décor, sweeping views and small-town comforts with the excitement of world-class horse sport events, such as arena polo, show jumping and dressage.

Polo Bar & Grill is ideal for the eclectic diner or the local foodie, featuring stellar farm-fresh cuisine, locally sourced produce and hand-crafted cocktails, with a sizable menu that is a compilation of farm-to-table lunch, dinner and brunch plates with a California West Coast twist.

The kitchen at Polo Bar & Grill is run by Executive Chef Victor Irizarry, a graduate of the prestigious Disney Culinary Institute and a master sommelier. He has worked at the world-renowned California Grill and Yachtsman’s Steakhouse, and served as executive chef at Seasons 52 and the Hard Rock Cafe. His mantra is simple, but reflects in each dish served at Polo Bar & Grill — “cook from the heart.” And so he does.

Ingredients are sourced locally, and vendors are chosen based on their quality and proximity to the restaurant. The difference is in the taste, and the dishes do not disappoint.

“Everything you see is a la carte, it’s prepared daily and it’s fresh,” Irizarry said. “We don’t even have a microwave in the kitchen. There are no preservatives, no antibiotics and everything we cook is the way it’s supposed to be eaten.”

Each menu item is perfectly crafted with a blend of flavors that represent Irizarry’s vast international background. The menu features several standout dishes, from the one-of-a-kind flatbreads, to appetizers such as the Ahi Tuna Tartare, a dish of beautiful presentation with hues of green, fresh ahi tuna set amidst an avocado mix, wasabi and cilantro microgreens and served with toast points. The Beef Empanadas boast strong flavors, stuffed with picadillo, and are accompanied by a chipotle ranch sauce — the perfect pairing.

The top entrees include a fan-favorite of Steak & Fries capped with garlic butter, a Wild Caught Red Snapper with seasonal vegetables, New York Strip Steak and the highlight of the menu, a 12-ounce Grilled Pork Chop basted with a guava barbecue sauce and accompanied by a unique and delicious horseradish sweet potato mash.

No matter what you order, each dish leaves the palate craving more.

The restaurant is also host to an array of special events, from an outstanding weekday happy hour to a fabulous weekend brunch featuring reasonable set-priced unlimited mimosas and bloody Marys. The Polo Patio can seat more than 200 guests, offers far-reaching views of the expansive polo field and driving range, an outside bar, and is the perfect location to enjoy live performances from local, talented musicians, such as country musician Tom Blake.

It is also dog-friendly, and Polo Bar & Grill is the only restaurant in Wellington to offer a dog menu for four-legged diners.

“We want Polo Bar & Grill to be a welcoming space for the community by offering an exciting, approachable menu, hosting weekly events open to the public, and giving back to the community through our partnerships with local charities,” General Manager Leslie Hill explained.

Polo Bar & Grill stands out with its weekly events, as well as close ties to the equestrian community and local fundraisers. Positioned on the only remaining public golf course in Wellington, the restaurant offers seasonal golf events, show jumping on Wednesdays and Fridays during the winter season, Big Dogs Night Out benefiting Big Dog Ranch Rescue, arena polo every Sunday evening, and Western in Wellington on Saturday nights, with the J.C. Cowgirls taking the limelight and capping off the night with the sounds of country music during Southern Rock Saturdays.

“We want the new Polo Bar & Grill to be a taste of the past; a throwback to the original Wellington, which was fun and filled with good camaraderie,” Sassoon said. “We want our restaurant to be a place for jumpers, polo players and dressage people, as well as non-equestrians, to decompress and enjoy a relaxing night out. It’s a place where they can come and have a great meal, a couple of cocktails, have fun, and just mingle with people in and out of the equestrian and polo world, just like the old vintage Wellington, the way it used to be.”

Polo Bar & Grill is located at 2470 Greenview Cove Drive in Wellington. It is open from 11 a.m. to 10 p.m. Sunday through Wednesday, and from 11 a.m. to 11 p.m. Thursday through Saturday. For more information, visit www.polobarandgrill.com or call (561) 429-2049.

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Don Chepo’s Taco Shop Takes Mexican Food To A New Level

Don Chepo’s Taco Shop Takes Mexican Food To A New Level

Fashion Cuisine Group co-founders Dustin Parfitt and Juan Gando have completed the creation of their new Wellington taco eatery. Don Chepo’s Taco Shop is a restaurant that they created to offer a laid-back, Florida-style Mexican restaurant for families and locals to enjoy.

Parfitt is the executive chef of the local restaurant group, while Gando is the restaurateur. They both pride themselves in what Don Chepo’s has to offer, from fresh ingredients to its family atmosphere.

“Everything in this restaurant has a history,” Gando said. “We built it with our hands, like the tables, the frames, everything you see is with a little bit of love. Everything has a story.”

The choice to venture into a taco eatery was a chance to continue working with different styles of cuisine and break away from what the Fashion Cuisine Group already offers in the community.

“Something that I’ve always been good at is making delicious food, as I’ve been a chef for, gosh, 16 years. I’ve developed my own style,” Parfitt said. “I can kind of have different flavors at each place.”

So, when the two co-owners decided to create a new dining experience, they knew they wanted it to be based around tacos.

“We have so many fine dining restaurants in one town,” Parfitt said. “We’ve got Oli’s, the Grille, White Horse, and we wanted a more casual, laid-back, atmosphere, with games for the kids to play, and just a more reasonable price point.”

While the other Fashion Cuisine restaurants cater to a high-end diner, Parfitt and Gando want Don Chepo’s to be a place where families with children feel welcome to come by for a bite to eat.

The first thing to make note of are Don Chepo’s house-made corn tortillas.

“It’s something really special. They have to be made fresh every day,” Parfitt said. “Right now, we’re cooking them. It’s right before lunch, and we store them hot, and as soon as they’re gone, we make more.”

Parfitt said the corn tortilla is something both he and Gando take tremendous pride in.

“There is no comparison to a corn tortilla that you can buy in the store,” Parfitt said. “Once you cook those tortillas down, the texture is just not the same. The texture of our corn is more of like a flour texture. It’s really soft, and it’s delicious.”

For $29, the Small Platter is a great way to have a first experience of what Don Chepo’s offers on the menu.

“It’s a chef’s choice of tacos, usually it’s pollo, al pastor and usually the asada, which is a steak,” Parfitt said. “Smoked pork with a little bit of chorizo, pineapple and some pickled red onion. You get rice, beans, cucumber salad, a tamale, the grilled corn and also our house-made hot sauce.”

While Parfitt serves as executive chef, Gando designed the drink menu at Don Chepo’s. A special cocktail on the menu is the Mercadito, a margarita with muddled berries and more. Mercadito isn’t just a name; it’s an action.

“When you go to the flea market, you take your basket, and you go and buy a lot of berries, or you buy a lot of fruit,” Gando said. “This is pretty much a fresh berry margarita, which is blackberries, strawberries, blueberries, and you put two ounces of tequila, any preference that people have, and ice… We make our own sour mix and shake it really hard. It’s all about the shake.”

Parfitt said it pairs great with the tacos al pastor. “Smoky pork — cool it down with a little bit spicy margarita,” Parfitt said.

Meaning and history is a theme at Don Chepo’s, and it’s in the name.

“My dad used to call me that,” Gando said. “It’s a guy in Ecuador. I am from Ecuador. My name is Juan Gando, and since a baby, he used to call me, ‘You are the chepo.’ It’s like the cool guy in the United States.”

So, the moniker is a family name, and that is what makes Don Chepo’s come together in harmony, Gando said.

“The whole thing about me and Dustin, we are like a family,” Gando said. “We have a great team. The team we have is amazing. It’s all pretty much family.”

Gando also takes responsibility to build rapport with all the people who dine at the restaurant.

“My place is to make sure people come happy and leave happy,” Gando said. “So, that is always our goal. Since the day we met, it’s the service. We provide service, and of course amazing food, decent prices, kids welcome. This is a family place. It’s not just a bar. It’s for a family. It’s Wellington.”

Don Chepo’s Taco Shop is located in Wellington Green Square at 10660 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 170, in Wellington. For more info., call (561) 660-7391 or visit www.donchepos.com.

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Classic Italian Cuisine On The Menu At Centanni Café

Classic Italian Cuisine On The Menu At Centanni Café

‘Centanni’ means 100 years in Italian, and Centanni Café owner Fidel Alvarez hopes to reach that many years at his new location in Wellington’s Village Walk community.

The restaurant has been at the location just off Lyons Road approximately one year after holding its grand opening in December 2016. Alvarez has been overjoyed with the response he has received from the community he is now immediately serving.

Centanni Café is new to the residential community, but it has been in the western communities for more than a decade, originally located on State Road 7 in Royal Palm Beach. While the restaurant is particularly convenient for Village Walk residents, it is open to the greater Wellington community as well.

Centanni offers classic Italian cuisine. For a restaurant that calls itself a café, it boasts a sizable menu with many options to choose from. If you were to ask Alvarez what he would recommend for your first time at the café, he’d probably suggest the salmon piccata served with quinoa. “This dish is a sauté with white wine and lemon, a touch of butter and capers,” Alvarez said. “In my picatta, I like to put a little roasted pepper, just because of the color. With food, you’ve got to catch the eye, too. It’s not just flavor, but also the colors.”

Alvarez only recently began using quinoa as a main side option.

“I wasn’t even familiar with it, but my chef, he is from Peru, and this comes from Peru, so he was knowledgeable of it,” Alvarez said. “So, I told him, ‘Let’s see how the customers react,’ and it was very good. It’s different, and it tastes good. Quinoa is something that you can put on salads and as a side dish. You can do a lot with it.”

One amazing homemade item found at Centanni is Alvarez’s fresh mozzarella, which is served on the Centanni salad and more.

“My fresh mozzarella, I put some salt in the water when I’m making it, so that adds flavor, not really salty, but you just add a little flavor,” Alvarez said. “It’s a unique flavor. You don’t need any added salt, and you don’t need any dressing to have that mozzarella, because it already has flavor in it.”

The menu offers many Italian favorites, including pizza, pasta dishes, entrees such as chicken marsala, sub sandwiches and more. Centanni also offers catering services.

“The advantage that I have is that the menu is already established. People already know me,” Alvarez said. “So, when they found out I was coming here, there was a lot of excitement in the community.”

Alvarez said some people have been enthusiastic about the café in the gated community, to the point that he said his business has driven in new homeowners to Village Walk.

“The atmosphere, it feels like you are on vacation,” Alvarez said. “The neighbors feel like they are on vacation. They come home. They come here. They eat. They go to the pool. It feels like a vacation resort.”

Alvarez began his career in the restaurant business in high school. He had a decade of experience by the time he was out of college, and he found himself managing a network of restaurants in New Jersey, where he was raised.

Born in El Salvador, Alvarez grew into the industry. It wasn’t something he knew would be his life’s work at a young age.

“I worked for the guy for 10 years. I went through high school, through college, working in this mom-and-pop pizzeria, so I learned a lot from them,” Alvarez said.

That experience at the pizzeria is what propelled Alvarez into his role in restaurant management, impressing his future business partner. Alvarez helped manage five different restaurants in New Jersey. But, at the height of it all, he was at a different restaurant every day.

“I got tired of that, so I left and came to Florida, because every time we came here on vacation, it was nice. My wife loved it, and I started to like it,” Alvarez said.  “So, we moved here.”

Centanni Café is open for lunch and dinner, but you can still find some breakfast items at the café during lunch hours.

“This [is a place] you can come for lunch, or dinner, or just a little snack,” he said.

Nowadays, Alvarez enjoys his life managing the café for his customers.

“I want to thank the community here at Village Walk for giving me the opportunity to serve them, and also giving me the opportunity to serve the people outside the community who already know me,” Alvarez said. “So far, I think, that has been the key, because a lot of other cafés have been here, but none of them have made it. I think the combination is knowing people’s names and bringing in people from outside. I think that helps a lot.”

Centanni Café is located in the Village Walk community at 2540 Village Walk Circle. For more information, call (561) 642-8700 or visit www.centannicafe.com.

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New Premier Café Wants To Change The Way You Think About Coffee

New Premier Café Wants To Change The Way You Think About Coffee

Dr. Mariaclara Bago and Dr. Vincent Apicella have added another extension to their Premier Family Health facility in the Wellington Reserve complex on State Road 7. The married doctors want community members to slow down their daily routines for enough time to sit inside the new Premier Café to experience a cup of its specialty coffee.

The doctors believe the new venture neatly pairs with all the health services that Premier Family Health has provided for more than a decade.

“I don’t want to understate our coffee, because it’s important to know that we have the finest coffee bean around. We’re partnered with Panther Coffee. They’re one of the highest-ranked roasters in the entire country,” Apicella said. “They’re down in Miami, and they’re the best at what they do, and we like to partner with the best.”

Apicella said the most important aspect of the café isn’t so much regarding what he and Bago are introducing, but their reason why.

“It’s about your experience in this place,” he said. “You have to drive outside the boundaries of Wellington to find a specialty coffee house with this type of an experience. We built this for the community. We built this for everyone to enjoy.”

Bago said that Premier Café is focused on what goes into every mug and on every plate.

“Everybody loves a good cup of coffee. In today’s day and age, the vision of having coffee while reading a newspaper and spending time with loved ones has long been replaced with the ‘world runs on coffee’ adage,” Bago said. “Easily enough, we find it very difficult to find a good cup of coffee that is outside of the massively overproduced, processed version of [major chains and franchises]. They are great business models, but it’s not the coffee that comes first.”

The shop is offering classic coffee drinks using the Panther Coffee bean to provide the experience. There is a nitro cold brew that is featured at the shop providing a fresh take on a coffee beverage that has become popular. From croissants to paninis and salads, the café aesthetic is all there, but special care has been taken in the ingredients used in these products.

“We built it for the experience of what healthy coffee and what healthy eating is about,” Bago explained.

The café itself was inspired by the doctors’ personal experiences in Europe, particularly Spain.

“On any given day during our stay, we would meet up with friends and family over coffee, reminisce over good times and the beautiful mountain views,” Bago said. “It is this feeling of peace and relaxation that Dr. Apicella and I brought into our relationship six years ago, when we made it a point to enjoy at least 16 minutes of peace and quiet, coffee time, amidst our daily schedule of kids, patients and business.”

The café is also something that will serve as an educational tool at Premier Family Health.

“Some of the roles that I’m going to be playing are with regard to being able to provide educational forums, from which we can provide cooking classes and a lecture series on what it is to select healthy food options,” Bago said, explaining some of the differences between over-processed coffee and organic fair trade coffee.

The newly added staff who will provide service at the café will offer the same quality service that can be found at other areas of the business.

“We built a very experienced team, and to us, it’s no different than all the team members at Premier,” Apicella said. “They understand that their role is to not just serve someone coffee. No one here just has a defined role and job task. Their role is to make sure that you have a better sense of well-being from the time that you walked in, to the time that you leave.”

Apicella and Bago entered the coffee business viewing it as a community project to offer something different. “It’s really in alignment with every other project I’ve done,” Apicella said. “It’s there to serve the community. It’s there to provide an extraordinary sense of well-being, and it’s there to create jobs and support small business.”

The café is a tool that the doctors want to use to support the local community, local businesses and to offer something that you will not find at another café. “That’s why this place is here. It’s a little bit of a refuge for people to get away from stress,” Apicella said. “We have to-go cups, but we don’t want people to use them. I want people to come here and take 10 minutes out of your day. Let the rest of the world stop, enjoy the best cup of specialty coffee around and just relax.”

Premier Café is located at 1037 State Road 7, Suite 118, in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 657-8019 or visit www.cafeatpremier.com.

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Johnson’s Custom Cakes Works With Couples To Create Amazing Wedding Cakes

Johnson’s Custom Cakes Works With Couples To Create Amazing Wedding Cakes

The culinary finale of a great wedding is an amazing wedding cake, and Johnson’s Custom Cakes in Wellington has been creating delectable masterpieces for the past nine years.

Owner Jennifer Johnson has spent most of the last decade making a name for herself not only in South Florida, but nationwide through appearances on the Food Network and at cake competition events. She might have flair as a competitive cake artist, but her business is her livelihood, and that is focused on building relationships with her clients.

Johnson calls soon-to-be-married couples her “cake babies,” because that’s usually where her business begins when serving a new client.

“The brides and grooms, they come to me for their wedding cake, and we call them Johnson’s cake babies,” she explained. “Often, the bride and groom come back for their bridal shower, and then we get to do their baby showers and their christenings and their baby’s first birthdays.”

When a couple visits Johnson for her cake artistry, she stresses the need to book her services with ample time before the wedding date.

“It’s really beneficial to book your wedding cake at least three to six months in advance,” Johnson said. “Some of the brides are coming in two weeks or one week before their wedding, and unfortunately, sometimes we cannot do it because we are a custom shop, so quality comes before quantity.”

An important part of the process is identifying the spirit of the wedding for each client.

“We draw the sketch in front of them, and then they make the changes,” Johnson said. “Their input on their wedding cake is really, really important. We want to make sure that it’s all about them. When it comes to design, taste, everything, we really listen to them. It comes from our soul, but it also comes from their minds.”

Johnson credits her staff for being equally as important to the process of giving a client their special dessert, for weddings and all other events.

“They’re all artists,” Johnson said of her staff. “We’re able to feel the bride out on the colors. All the other aspects of the wedding are important for the cake as well, like the floral, the color palette, the décor, what the bride is wearing, her dress pattern, if her dress is ivory or white. All those things affect the cake in some way, because we want to make sure the cake matches the décor.”

After Johnson and her team have seen all the wedding colors, they will often ask to see samples of the décor items. Then Johnson and her team show the client their own ideas, and it all comes together for a personal, custom cake.

“It’s teamwork with that aspect of it, because we want to create what the vision is,” Johnson said. “If they don’t have a vision, we try to give them some pointers or try to create it with them.”

Some of the most creative cake ideas may come from competition shows on television, but Johnson also gets interesting requests for personal wedding cakes.

“We’ve done crazy things,” Johnson said. “One bride and groom, they wanted what they eat for breakfast on their wedding cake, which was like a spiced cake with peanut butter and pecans and fresh fruit. They wanted something that is memorable to them.”

At Johnson’s Custom Cakes, Johnson and her staff have the skill to add many different features to a cake that you may not see every day.

“We’re artists, so we actually do a lot of modeling and super sculpting, so we can actually form the bride and groom on top of the cake,” she said. “If they’re a firefighter or a nurse or a doctor, we can customize their cake to what they do. We’ve put their pets on the cake.”

Johnson cherishes the long-term relationships she maintains with her clients once the first cake has been served.

“The most important thing is I get to watch their families grow, and that’s humbling to me how their babies are six, seven, eight years old, and they come in and they sketch their own birthday cakes,” Johnson said. “The children come in, and they look forward to seeing me every year.”

Johnson’s passion for her work is as strong as her passion as a cake artist, and she welcomes the challenges that she faces as a business owner.

“I’ve learned that business is about growth, and you learn from your mistakes,” Johnson said. “You always try to do something different. We are not just a bakery that does one thing. We push ourselves to try to explore all different mediums. We want to give you what you want. So, if it takes us until 5 o’clock in the morning to get something right, we’re going to make sure we do it.”

Johnson’s Custom Cakes is located in the Kobosko’s Crossing shopping plaza at 9148 Forest Hill Blvd. in Wellington. For more information, call (561) 422-0303 or visit www.johnsonscustomcakes.com.

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Unique Home-Style Dishes And More At Aroma Indian Cuisine

Unique Home-Style Dishes And More At Aroma Indian Cuisine

Aroma Indian Cuisine opened in February of this year on Village Blvd. in West Palm Beach. Executive Chef Clarence “Rence” Xavier is the creative mind and part owner of the new restaurant. His goal is to serve Indian cuisine that is also influenced by his culinary experience throughout his career as a professional chef.

Managing the new restaurant is a chance for Xavier to introduce something original to every plate that graces the tables at Aroma, and it is a chance for him to learn the flavors that people in the area enjoy.

“If you look at my menu, you’ll see many home-style dishes, and a lot of things that we are offering you may not see in any other restaurants here,” Xavier said. “Most of these things, which I introduced, normally we cook only at home. That is the difference between us and other places around the area.”

Xavier grinds and roasts all the spices that are used in the dishes on the Aroma menu. “I personally don’t like to use any of the powdered spices,” he said. “So, that makes a lot of difference. When you eat the food, then you understand that.”

This doesn’t mean that classic Indian dishes won’t show up on the Aroma menu.

“We do offer the popular dishes,” Xavier said. “At the same time, we have our specialty. That is the home style. That is what I believe will allow our business to stand out.”

A signature treat that Xavier offers under appetizers on the menu is a popular dish found in homes of people from Gujarat, a state in western India. It is called Farali Pattice — made of an outer layer of coconut, and mashed potatoes seasoned with fresh coriander, roasted cashew, cumin and black salt, with a dash of lime juice.

“This particular appetizer, it is made in people’s homes,” he said. “It has a bit of a spice and aroma. It has a very nutty flavor [from] the fresh coriander and the coconut. It has a light sweetness with a sour and tangy finish.”

The finished product comes out light and crispy because of the flash-fry technique Xavier uses with an Indian wok called a karahi.

“With a very high temperature oil, you just put it in and take it out,” Xavier said. “It won’t stay in the oil for too much time. It’s a matter of seconds.”

Unique items such as Farali Pattice are the center of the home-style dishes that Xavier likes to make for his customers. He is conscious of the ingredients and the cooking processes he uses to make the food at Aroma.

“Personally, I don’t like to use the deep-fryer,” Xavier said. “The first thing is that it is unhealthy, and normally the people don’t want it in the oil.”

The black salt that helps season the Farali Pattice is important to the flavor of the dish. “It is a rock salt, which gives it the pungent taste,” Xavier said.

Each fritter is accompanied with a fresh-made garlic chutney, which is seasoned with roasted cumin and coriander. “I borrowed the recipe from a customer who came here the second week when we opened this place,” Xavier said.

Xavier had been using his own kind of chutney, but this customer was from Gujarat and offered a recipe that is commonly paired with Farali Pattice.

Xavier began a catering business in 2008, implementing a fusion of different cultural cuisines in his food, adding Thai, Italian, Greek and Mexican elements to Indian cuisine.

Xavier was greatly influenced by his grandmother, who seemed to know that he would find a way in this world as a professional chef.

“She can make anything,” Xavier said. “She used to tell my mother, ‘You know what? You don’t need to worry about him. He’s going to become a cook. Don’t worry.’ She said that when I was young.”

Xavier became a professional chef at the age of 24. He went to school in India and earned a degree in food and hotel management. He worked in the kitchen for a large hotel chain in Southeast Asia. Then, he took his skills to Royal Caribbean, the Miami-based cruise line. From there he moved to Fairfield, Conn., where he managed several restaurants that were either Indian or Thai cuisine.

He embarked on his current endeavor to lead the kitchen at Aroma last year when his friends and co-owners of the restaurant presented him with the idea and the opportunity.

Xavier believes in combining the passion he feels for food into the food he serves every day.

“I love what I do, and I enjoy every moment, even when I cook,” Xavier said. “It is very important to have a happy heart, especially when you are cooking for somebody else. Whatever you do, there is an energy. If you have a happy heart, then that energy is going to the food as well.”

Aroma Indian Cuisine is located at 771 Village Blvd., Suite 110-111, in West Palm Beach. For more info., call (561) 619-6437 or visit www.aromawestpalmbeach.com.

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Wellington Trace Tavern Features A Unique, Fusion-Style Menu

Wellington Trace Tavern Features  A Unique, Fusion-Style Menu

The new Wellington Trace Tavern is now open in the original Wellington Mall. In the kitchen is Executive Chef Jeff Cantor, who brings with him a wealth of culinary experience gathered from every region of the United States. His well-rounded career has cemented a signature, fusion style of cuisine.

–“One of the things that is very important to me is to be original. I don’t want to do what others are doing,” Cantor said. “When you walk into Wellington Trace Tavern, I want you to feel as though, before you even sit down at the table, you’re already going to know that it’s going to be a great meal.”

Wellington Trace Tavern is co-owned by Alex Gerasimov and Tetyana Kuzmina. Cantor was searching for a position that would allow him to continue making his food creations, and after his first meeting with the owners, he knew almost immediately that he would have creative control over the new tavern’s menu items.

“What I plan on bringing to Wellington Trace Tavern, first of all, is food with integrity,” Cantor said. “I don’t do boxed, ready-to-go, canned, whatever-it-might-be type of things. I try to do as much as I can from a fresh state. I try to use local ingredients when we can. We get some of our produce right here from a local farmer, and we always try to use fresh, not frozen, seafood whenever possible. The same thing goes for our other ingredients on the menu.”

Cantor said there will be many signature dishes to be enjoyed on the menu, but he presented one that he believes will certainly cement itself as a must-have item, the Admiral Surf and Turf.

The dish will feature four jumbo shrimp, paired with a daily vegetable. “It will have your choice of potato. However, I recommend one of my signature items, which is called a sweet potato soufflé,” Cantor said. “A lot of people say, ‘Oh, I don’t like sweet potatoes.’ I bring them out a little taste of it, and that’s what they order. It doesn’t taste like a sweet potato out of the skin. This tastes like a true soufflé-style, a little sweeter, entrée side accompaniment than you would typically see somewhere else.”

Don’t forget the turf.

“It’s paired with another one of my signature items, which is a Dr. Pepper, ketchup marinated filet mignon,” Cantor explained. “It’s something that I’ve been serving for years. I picked it up from a chef in South Carolina.”

Keeping true to his originality, Cantor continues to tweak the recipe, but he has a balance for it that can’t be described any better than by the head chef himself.

“I’ve described that dish as yin and yang, and the reason I say [that] is quite simple: it’s complementary opposites with a little bit of each still there,” Cantor said. “You’re going to have that sweet savoriness of the marinated filet mignon, and then you’re going to have the grilled jumbo shrimp, which is something that goes together very well. It’s different than you would find elsewhere.”

Cantor moved to Wellington at the beginning of this year with his wife and daughter, Kathy and Annika. Kathy had a job opportunity in Palm Beach County, while his daughter is a chef in her own right. “It’s kind of a family thing right now,” he said.

Cantor grew up in New Hampshire. Being New England raised, seafood is a must eat. When he is back home, he can’t leave without having a classic feast.

“Being not too far from the coast, fresh seafood was always available, and I’ve come up with a great passion and love for seafood,” Cantor said. “I’m getting clam chowder, and I’m getting right out of the sea, probably two hours ago, lobster that was caught on the boat and parked out back.”

Cantor is happy with the quality of food that has begun to appear and then disappear on patron’s plates at Wellington Trace Tavern.

“We’re consistently putting good food on the tables, and, most importantly, we are doing it in a way that others in the area are not,” he said. “I don’t think you’ll find 15 of the items on our menu any place else.”

While they are there, Cantor visits his guests to make sure they are having the dining experience he envisions for the tavern.

“My motto for the food is ‘great food, great wine, great friends, best of times,’” Cantor said. “I like that to be what people think of after they’ve had a meal here.”

Wellington Trace Tavern is located in the original Wellington Mall at 12794 W. Forest Hill Blvd., Suite 20. The restaurant is open from 4 p.m. to 2 a.m. most nights. For more information, call (561) 469-1109 or visit www.wttavern.com.

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