“The great thing in this world is not so much where we stand, as in what direction we are moving”Oliver Wendell Holmes
Chef Tony Hull, Director of Restaurant Operations at Orlando Airport Marriott Lakeside and Crimson Tavern restaurant may very well be living a life for the 25th century with his food philosophy embedded in utilizing each and every aspect of his resources optimally while inventing innovative ways to reduce carbon footprints while producing dishes not just from a flavor standpoint — but also a wellness aspect.
You have heard of nose to tail where chefs utilize the whole animal in cooking. Today I present to you “nose to tail eating of the whole farm”.
Here’s a perspective – America a country of agricultural abundance, it is also one of great waste. Surplus at every level of the food chain, from farming to fishing to distributing and processing, goes in the trash. A culinary avant-garde, Chef Hull has taken recycling practices to an entirely new level.
- Fish scraps pureed into cat food for the two rescue cats who call Crimson Tavern’s garden home. Grateful sporting happy bellies, the resident cats in turn protect Crimson tavern’s garden from uninvited visitors such as squirrels and snakes.
- A large industrial mortar and pestle was created from a recycled car cylinder and axle to enrich the garden soil with homemade bone meal from chicken/beef stock leftovers.
- Restaurant menus are printed on 100% recycled paper and damaged or old menus used as underliners in the restaurant.
- June through December of 2015 33 tons of food scraps was composted. In January 2016 7 tons of food scraps were composted.
- And my personal favorite invention, in edible art form – beef candles produced from steak renderings, infused with rosemary and sea-salt, served with bread creating a romantic and finger-licking appetizer. Be still oh heart, it might be developing a foodie crush!!
An English transplant, Chef Hull’s arsenal combines classic French training, South East Asian, Caribbean, & South American flavors creating tantalizing combinations, while elevating Orlando’s humble palate.
It isn’t too often that ingredients which appear on a diner’s plate come from just a few hundred feet away. I highly encourage you to grab one of Crimson tavern’s hand-crafted cocktails and stroll through their 2,500 square foot Chef’s Garden from which the culinary team sources many of the menu’s ingredients needed to provide an unsurpassed dining experience. To name a few – Sapodilla, Avocado, Olives, Peppers, Lettuces, Radishes, Spinach, Herbs, Carrots, Beets, Sugar Apples, Papaya, Fruits, and more, much more PS: The garden produces approximately 20,000 lbs. of food annually.
Crimson Negroni – Hendricks gin, campari, sweet vermouth, muddled orange. A balanced dance of sweet, bitter, and herbal components, Crimson Negroni is the ideal aperitif to get your culinary juices flowing.
Southerner’s could learn a trick or two from Chef Hull when it comes to brewing tea. Did I mention he is English? The refreshing Bourbon Tea with Buffalo trace, Darjeeling tea, hibiscus, strawberry was perfectly balanced and much needed respite from our blistering Floridian afternoons.
Beer aficionados could sip on Crimson’s Craft Beer Flight – Pils, Amber Ale, Brown Ale, IPA. While noshing on the sweet and spicy play on Cornbread – chili creme, house bacon, berries, garden greens.
Supremely juicy and well-seasoned Lamb Kafta served on a bed of refreshing tavern fattoush, red pepper salad with kicked up cucumber yogurt makes for one delicious and complexly flavored skewer of meat.
We also sampled the Crostini – preserved eggplant, ricotta salata, garden herb salad, Salmon – house cured, mustard, beets, orange, asparagus, and Meat & Cheese Board off the apps menu. Each a winner, playful in presentation and pure in flavors.
I simply adore beets. Aside from their nutritional advantage (high in folic acid, phytonutrients, potassium) this cardiovascular health-friendly root vegetable exudes sweet earthiness. Crimson’s Beets – lightly dressed with honey, watercress, walnut, blue cheese, sherry vinaigrette, a classic winner.
Speaking of honey, Chef Hull’s sweet labor of love project now boasts ten bee hives for honey production. Ultimate goal being self-sufficient in production to meet the entire hotel’s consumption needs. An ambitious goal which includes retail sales for their house-made pickles, jams, chutneys, and bbq products.
Snapper – lobster broth, braised fennel, spiced potatoes, fresh chorizo. One perfectly crisp piece of Snapper, decadent broth, sweet fennel, house made chorizo, packed with gentle heat. Chef Hull evokes a culinary journey of flavors around the globe in one singularly indulgent bite.
Bell & Evans Braised Chicken – polenta, roasted carrots, cipollini, merguez. Fall of the bone organic chicken, creamy polenta, boldly seasoned merguez sausage, it’s a dish designed to delight.
Manicotti – smoked chicken, ricotta, parmesan, greens blew our minds. An Italian comforting staple gets a glam makeover with in-house smoked chicken, fresh ricotta, house made pasta dressed in a light but deeply flavored tomato sauce just might give your Italian grand mother a run for money.
Simplicity wins in this popular favorite Bucatini Carbonara. Canaveral shrimp, Lake Meadow eggs, gunaciale (cured pork), delicate heat of black pepper coating hollow spaghetti, accurately executed it was rich, creamy, and deeply satisfying emulating home cooking at it’s finest.
Like me if you grew up on Wimpy’s (burger joint) ice-cream sundae called Knickerbockers, Chef Hull’s sophisticated take on the dessert made of childhood dreams will rock your world. A tall sundae filled with local cream gelato, mixed berry, whipped cream, wafer, and cherry; I may as well call swap dinner for this pièce de résistance.
Did you know you can HOST your very own party, be it course dining or casual bbq at the Lakeside Garden of Crimson?
I am embarrassed to confess it has taken Bokeh Studio and I this long to visit Crimson Tavern. A neighborhood gem that aims to nourish not only our foodie buds and soul, but more importantly cultivate habits that are healthier for you and the environment.
When food is treated with the respect it so richly deserves, it becomes a way of life. Chef Hull and his talented team of chefs and progressive thinkers emphasis on freshness, functionality, and seasonality, with a menu created and inspired by the garden on a daily basis. This my dear friends is a cerebral full circle ‘farm to table’ experience.
Loving these drool-worthy photographs? Contact The Primlani Kitchen to discuss your food photography options.