LAKE BEUNA VISTA – Michael and Christine Loudy insist that when it comes to great southern cooking, there’s no particular mystery what the key ingredient is.
“Love – a lot of love,” Christine Loudy said. “And you have to enjoy making it, by enjoying serving others.”
Michael Loudy said another thing that they do passionately is “We don’t cut corners and we use all natural products. We do Caribbean and Creole food – with a lot of passion.”
Michael and Christine run Loudy Creole Café – “If it isn’t Authentic, it isn’t Loudy’s,” runs their tag line – at 2340 W. Oak Ridge Road in Orlando. But on Friday, the Loudy’s took their product on the road, setting up a booth at the Orlando Premium Outlets in Lake Buena Vista, site of the 2011 Bacchus Bash, sponsored by the trade association representing one of Central Florida’s larger industries and employers.
The Central Florida Hotel and Lodging Association has sponsored this outdoor street fair for more than a decade, inviting the public to enjoy a spring event featuring live music and entertainment, and more than 80 booths serving a wide variety of food and beverages, all within the streets of a shopping plaza that also has a diverse number of high end stores to visit.
“This is a fund-raiser for the CFHLA’s Educational Trust Fund,” said Erin Hellkamp, the public policy coordinator for the agency representing the many hotels, timeshares, vacation homes and other members of the local hospitality industry.
The association also invited eight judges to take part in a gourmet cooking contest – in essence, to visit all 80 booths, sample the cuisine at each one, and then rank them, with the winners being honored in multiple categories, including Best Original Drink, Best Menu Item, Best Dessert Item, Most Creative Booth and Most Interactive Booth.
“We’re going to travel to each booth,” Hellkamp said at the start of the judging contest around 6 p.m. The judges – including state Sen. Gary Siplin, D-Orlando, and former state Sen. Lee Constantine, R-Altamonte Springs – were cautioned that while a few of the booths sold alcoholic drinks only, the vast majority offered food – meaning there would be plenty to eat over the next two hours.
“I would encourage light bites of each sample,” Hellkamp said. “Some people get sick by the end.”
Variety was the key word – the meals ranged from macaroni and cheese with pieces of lobster to mini burgers, Spicey Meatloaf, coffee cakes, and even an Open Face BLT sandwich on Mofongo bread with smoke yellow tomato and rhubarb jam.
The Royal Plaza Hotel attracted a long line by bringing to the bash one of its most popular meals: Bananas Foster, served with vanilla ice cream.
“This has won Best Dessert Item 10 years in a row,” Hellkamp said.
With so many booths to visit, the association’s president, Rich Maladecki, urged the judges to maintain a steady pace as they visit each vendor, sample the food, judge, and then quickly move on to the next one.
“Did you give them the speech about speed, speed, speed?” he asked Hellkamp, as she nodded in agreement.
Pat Kavanaugh, the vice president of sales for Emerging Brands/Imperial Brands, brought along his product: 4 Orange Premium Vodka, made at a plant in Auburndale from four types of oranges grown in Polk County’s citrus fields: Valencia, Hamlin, Parson Brown, and Temple.
“It’s premium vodka distilled entirely from Florida oranges,” he said, noting that it’s sold at the Southern Wine and Spirits liquor store chain.
The 2011 Bacchus Bash attracted a huge crowd of people. Audiences stood in front of the stages where musicians performed, bought “Bacchus bucks” that could be used at the vendor booths to purchase food, and hit the local stores in large numbers.
The Central Florida Hotel & Lodging Association, based at 7380 Sand Lake Road, Suite 300 in Orlando, works to advance tourism and the community through the region’s fast-growing hospitality industry.
Contact us at FreelineOrlando@Gmail.com.