Winter Park Magazine Winter 2015

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FEATURES 36 | LITTLE GIRL, BIG HEART Georgia Bernbaum’s project allows homeless children to experience the joy of dance. By Randy Noles

40 | IRON MAN OF THE ARTS Indefatigable conductor John Sinclair has become one of the best-known — and hardestworking — leaders of Central Florida’s cultural community. By Randy Noles, lead photograph by Rafael Tongol

48 | birds of a feather Mead Botanical Garden is a haven for an array of species, from barred owls to hooded warblers. By Linda Carpenter with Randy Noles, photographs by Sherry Fischer, Scott Simmons and Laurence Taylor.

IN EVERY ISSUE 6 | FIRST WORD 22 | along the avenue 61 | DINING LISTINGS 65 | EVENTS 72 | BACK PAGE




COVER ARTIST 8 | digital dynamics

The Maitland Art Center is an otherworldly place that reflects its founder’s creative spirit. Now, the whole world will know about this not-so-hidden local treasure. By Karen LeBlanc, photographs by MacBeth Photo and Kelly Canova

Graphic designer Ed Feldman dazzles with technological tools. By Randy Noles

ENTERTAINMENT 12 | come on, get happy Escapism is the message at the Winter Park Playhouse, which has a musical mission and a family feel. Not surprisingly, people love it. By Jay Boyar, photographs by Rafael Tongol

DINING 56 | soul of the swanky south A new chef at Hamilton’s Kitchen has kept what locals loved about the Alfond Inn’s eatery and added some new dishes and fresh approaches. The result? Delicious fare in a posh but comfy setting. By Rona Gindin, photographs by Rafael Tongol



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Randy Noles Editor and Publisher Lorna Osborn Senior Associate Publisher Kathy Byrd Associate Publisher




o street in Winter Park is named for Gustavus “Gus” Henderson. Yet he was one of the city’s most influential early residents. He was a newspaper publisher, an entrepreneur and a civic activist who was instrumental in making certain that a contentious incorporation vote passed in 1887. Because Henderson was an African-American, Black History Month is an ideal time to salute this historically significant figure, who was born during the Civil War and spent his life striving to make a positive difference. More specifically, the city should find a stretch of asphalt (or bricks) to rename in Henderson’s honor. Every other prominent early Winter Parker has one. Like many African-Americans, Henderson and his family came to Winter Park because it was thought Gus Henderson to be a relatively enlightened place where they could own their own homes — albeit only on the west side’s designated “colored lots” — and control their own destinies. The politically savvy Henderson, who had been a traveling salesman, started a print shop and later established the Winter Park Advocate, a weekly newspaper that primarily covered activities in the Hannibal Square community but was also widely read east of the railroad tracks. A year following Henderson’s arrival, the Winter Park Company, led by founders Loring A. Chase and Oliver E. Chapman, decided that the entire settlement — including the west side — should be incorporated as a city. But many white residents opposed forming a city in which black voters would constitute a majority. (At the time, black voters outnumbered white vot-


ers 64 to 47.) Two separate town meetings were held to decide on incorporation. But in neither case was a quorum present, so no vote could be taken. Blacks stayed away, in part because businessman J.C. Stovin (who has a street named for him) persuaded them that incorporation was a ruse to make them pay high taxes and lay bricks on city streets. Perhaps other, more ominous threats were made. When a third meeting was scheduled for Oct. 12, 1887, Henderson got busy. He went door to door, pleading with his friends and neighbors to attend and exercise their rights as free citizens. Some accounts claim that a marching band and children waving flags accompanied the delegation that Henderson led across the tracks to Ergood’s Hall. Incorporation was approved, and two African-Americans were elected as aldermen. Henderson left Winter Park several years later. William Comstock (who also has a street named for him) led a successful effort to remove the west side from the city in 1893. (It would not be reannexed until 1925.) None of that diminishes Henderson’s accomplishments. If Stovin and Comstock get streets, Henderson ought to get one, too. He earned it.

Laura Bluhm, Jenna Carberg GRAPHIC DESIGNERS Clyde Moore PARK AVENUE EDITOR Jay Boyar ArTS EDITOR Rona Gindin DINING EDITOR Marianne Ilunga FASHION EDITOR Harry Wessel CONTRIBUTING EDITOR Karen LeBlanc, Jim DeSimone Contributing Writers Rafael Tongol Contributing Photographer Rick Walsh, Jim DeSimone FOUNDING PARTNERS

GULFSHORE MEDIA Daniel Denton President Randy Noles Consulting Publisher Pam Flanagan General Manager Pam Daniel Editorial Director Norma Machado Production Manager FLORIDA HOME MEDIA’S FAMILY OF PUBLICATIONS

Copyright 2015 by Florida Home Media LLC, a wholly owned subsidiary of Gulfshore Media LLC. All rights reserved. Reproduction in whole or in part is prohibited without written permission of the copyright holder. Winter Park Magazine is published four times yearly by Florida Home Media LLC, 2700 Westhall Lane, Suite 128, Maitland, FL 32751

Randy Noles Editor/Publisher




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inter Park fans of Ed Feldman’s work have been hoping that the quirky digital artist would try his hand at a peacock. Certainly, the riotously plumed creatures seem ideally suited as subjects for Feldman, whose images are an explosion of shape, color and texture. Now the city’s official mascot has been immortalized by the Sanford-based artist, who graduated in 1976 from the University of the Arts in Pittsburgh with a degree in graphic design. Feldman has always worked as a graphic designer, but until recently was also a salesperson at an Apple computer store. His passion for technology led him to found the Adobe User Group of Central Florida, for which he serves as co-chapter representative. He’s not selling computers anymore, but he’s unquestionably demonstrating what computer technology can do when harnessed by a top-tier artist. Feldman’s work is shown and sold at Jai Gallery in Orlando. He has also participated in numerous art shows throughout the region, including Artlando at Orlando Loch Haven Park and the City Arts Factory Artist Registry Member Exhibition. In addition to being a visual artist, Feldman is also a performance artist. He collaborated with his son, Brian, on a show called The Feldman Dynamic, which has been staged staged at the New York International Fringe Festival and the Orlando International Fringe Festival. To see more, visit the Jai Gallery at 47 E. Robinson Street in Orlando or log onto — Randy Noles



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Theater founders Roy Alan and Heather Alexander are old-school troupers.

COME ON, GET HAPPY Escapism is the message at the Winter Park Playhouse, which has a musical mission and a family feel. Not surprisingly, people love it. BY JAY BOYAR Photographs by Rafael Tongol



pening night at almost any theater can feel pretty cozy. The cast’s friends and family are in the house and good vibes fill the air. It’s the same at the Winter Park Playhouse, only more so. Much more so. Just before November’s opening-night performance of Isn’t It Romantic?, co-founder Heather Alexander took the stage and spent a full 15 minutes greeting the sold-out house. She whipped up applause for audience members celebrating birthdays and raved about upcoming productions. Then, throughout the show (a tribute to Rodgers and Hart), people clapped enthusiastically after, and sometimes during, the musical numbers. Some (unfortunately!) even hummed along with the cast. “I love the family atmosphere,” says Rob Anderson, a director who has worked at several local theaters. “It’s very different from other places in town.” That difference has been in the theater’s DNA ever since Heather and her husband, artistic director Roy Alan, opened the doors — or raised the curtain — 12 years ago. Since then, the venture has become so successful that it’s currently in the midst of a major expansion.


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In 2003, Alan and Alexander starred in the venue’s first major success, I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change, which they’d seen in New York. Response to the show made it clear that the formula for their success would be staging crowd-pleasing musical comedies.

“We like to call ourselves the ‘Forget Your Troubles’ Theater,” muses Heather, noting that the Winter Park Playhouse is one of only two professional musical theaters in Florida. (Naples’ TheatreZone is the other.) “Just like in the Great Depression, musicals are a form of escapism. They take people on a journey.” nnn “I basically grew up in theater,” says Roy, who has a folksy yet debonair demeanor reminiscent of Fred Astaire. In fact, he played Astaire in Let’s Face the Music, a lively tribute show that he wrote and produced.


“Started taking dance when I was 4. Did my first professional musical at the age of 8. Was offered my union card at the ripe old age of 9.” That was in Houston, where Roy studied dance with the mother of his buddy, Patrick Swayze. And as he got older, he made it his business to learn everything he could about working in theater — both onstage and behind the scenes. Two years after high school, Roy moved to New York, where he found work in various capacities on such 1980s Broadway hits as Pirates of Penzance, with Linda Rondstadt and Kevin Kline, and the

original production of Nine, with Raul Julia. But after 13 years in the Big Apple, he began looking elsewhere. And after putting up with one too many blizzards, he made the big move to Florida, where he was hired immediately at the Golden Apple, a dinner theater in Sarasota. There he spent three years directing, choreographing and performing in lead roles. Then it was on to Jacksonville, where he performed in Singin’ in the Rain at the Alhambra Dinner Theater. Heather, as it happened, was also in the show, and sparks flew offstage. They didn’t play the lovers, but, a year later, they were married. Shortly thereafter, they decided to set up housekeeping in Winter Park, where they’ve remained. “Mine’s a very different story,” offers Heather, the Ginger to Roy’s Fred. A vivacious blonde with large, avid eyes, she speaks rapidly — sometimes explosively. “I started singing when I was 15, just singing in church and singing at school,” says Heather, who spent her teen years in Jacksonville. “My father wouldn’t allow me to get an arts-related college degree, so I ended up with a business management major, which has worked out very fine.” She discovered theater in college at the University of Florida in Gainesville and the University of North Florida in Jacksonville, from which she ultimately graduated. Afterward, she auditioned for roles — and began getting them. “When we came together in the marriage, we each had a child,” Heather notes, adding that they’ve since had two kids together. “Lots of our friends had moved down to the Orlando area because of all the [theater] work. Not only that, but the theme-park work was here. And it was an affordable place to raise a family.” nnn The enterprise that morphed into the Winter Park Playhouse began 15 years ago as a school, the Master Class Academy, which the couple later sold. “We wanted to share our passion for the arts with the community and with children,” Heather says. As for the theater, she admits, it was a bit of an afterthought. “We had this raw warehouse space in the back of the school,” Heather recalls, “and we wanted the community to see the [local] talent.” So the couple began mounting cabaret performances in the makeshift venue, which encompassed a small stage and 60 folding chairs. Ray and Heather have from time to time performed in their own productions. But as the theater has grown increasingly successful, and their administrative duties have become more demand-


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The facility’s facade leaves little doubt about the kind of theatrical fare it presents. “There’s lots of wonderful art that’s very dramatic; it makes you think,” says Heather. “For some people, that’s fine sometimes. But other times, they just want a nice, frivolous escape.”

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ing, they’ve spent less time in the limelight. Yet they did star this season in They’re Playing Our Song, prompting Orlando Sentinel reviewer Matt Palm to remark on their “charming chemistry.” In most stage musicals, important changes tend to occur in sudden, dramatic ways. A character wins a big contest or meets the girl of his dreams or has a shocking realization. Although the rise of the Winter Park Playhouse was more like a series of baby steps, there was indeed at least one major leap. On a trip to New York, the couple saw — and fell in love with — an Off-Broadway musical comedy called I Love You, You’re Perfect, Now Change. It’s about the urban dating scene (in the first half) and suburban married life (in the second). “We thought: If we don’t do anything else, we’ve got to at least mount this show,” Heather reflects. “People back home would just think this is a riot.” So in 2003 they presented a mini-season consisting of that show, the more familiar (and serious) Godspell and California Suite, a non-musical comedy. The indisputable hit of that trio was I Love You. That success, plus some market research, told the couple that their audience preferred musical comedies. And it didn’t hurt that their biggest potential competitor, the musically oriented Mark Two Dinner Theater on Edgewater Drive, was in its final days. “We realized what our restrictions were, our

limitations in terms of what the public would support,” says Heather. “They did not want to see comedies. They wanted to see musical comedies.” “That’s an interesting niche for a couple of reasons,” notes Elizabeth Maupin, who reviewed local theater for many years at the Sentinel. “One is that nobody else in town does musical comedy [exclusively], and especially no other professional company. The second is that there’s a certain segment of the theater-going audience that wants to laugh above all else.” nnn A stone’s throw from Park Avenue, the Winter Park Playhouse has been located at 711 Orange Ave., between U.S. 17-92 and Fairbanks Avenue since 2009. The outside isn’t much to look at: a flat facade featuring two signs that sport the theater’s name. To one side of one sign, in bold block letters, is the word “MUSICAL,” and to the other side, in the same font, is the word “THEATRE,” leaving little room for doubt as to just what sort of shows are presented within. The lobby, meanwhile, is a tastefully decorated space that looks rather like an old estate’s comfortable parlor, complete with a baby grand piano. The current expansion, which was made possible when the school relocated, will increase the


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lobby to three times its size and add two additional restrooms. There’ll also be more space for offices and set storage as well as an additional dressing room. Up to now, male and female performers had been sharing space. Fifty new seats will augment the existing 123 in the performance area. But that will have to wait for Phase II, projected to get underway next summer. The added capacity won’t come a moment too soon for Roy and Heather. “We’re at a point where we have more demand than we’re able to meet,” says Heather, who boasts that the theater has more than 1,000 subscribers. That number is bolstered by significant group sales from retirement communities, a reflection of the nostalgic appeal many of the shows offer. “We sell out over 80 percent of our performances.” And while Heather and Roy are proud to have their theater in Winter Park, they also see a downside. “I think people do have the misconception that because we’re the Winter Park Playhouse that we get an unbelievable amount of community [financial] support, because it’s a wealthy city,” Heather explains. “We don’t get city support at all, currently, but we’re hoping that will change.” The not-for-profit theater did, however, receive $40,000 in 2014 from Orange County, which was about enough to mount one show. United Arts kicks in a bit, too, and the couple is investigating additional grant opportunities. nnn After the opening-night performance of Isn’t It Romantic?, Heather reappeared, along with the cast, to hug each audience member on his or her way out. “Heather hugs you, no matter who you are,” explains Anderson, the director, whose next show at the playhouse is January’s The Rat Pack Lounge. “You’re very much made to feel at home.” And yet, as Maupin points out, “Not everybody loves light musical comedy.” In fact, musicals of any kind leave some folks scratching their heads: Why would two seemingly sane characters, who were chatting perfectly nicely just moments ago, suddenly take it into their heads to start singing at each other and dancing around the stage? Heather and Roy are so busy dealing with the demands of their growing enterprise that they don’t fret much about questions like that. “There’s lots of wonderful art that’s very dramatic; it makes you think,” says Heather. “For some people, that’s fine sometimes. But other times, they just want a nice, frivolous escape.” That’s what’s waiting for them — and for you — on the stage of the Winter Park Playhouse.


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The Winter Park Playhouse typically presents seven shows per season. So far this season, it has offered Backwards in Heels: The Ginger Rogers Musical; Neil Simon’s They’re Playing Our Song; Isn’t It Romantic? A Tribute to Rodgers & Hart; and Shout! The Mod Musical, featuring the music of Petula Clark, Dusty Springfield and Lulu. Yet to come this season are: n The Rat Pack Lounge. Jan. 16-Feb. 14. It’s New Year’s Eve and the Rat Pack, now in heaven, discovers it has unfinished business back on earth. So Frank Sinatra, Dean Martin and Sammy Davis Jr. assume the terrestrial bodies of three barflies. Somewhere along the line, someone named Angie pops up. (Angie Dickinson?) The show’s more than 30 hit songs include “My Way,” “Volare,” “Everybody Loves Somebody Sometime” and “Bye Bye Blackbird.” n A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine. March 6-28. This Tony Awardwinning show offers two one-act musicals loosely connected by a Tinseltown theme. The first half, a bit of a cavalcade, is set at Grauman’s Chinese Theatre in the 1930s. The second half is an invented Marx Brothers movie, vaguely based on Chekov’s The Bear, of all things. The songs are a mixture of classics (including “Over the Rainbow”) and originals. n Putting It Together. April 17-May 9. Set at a chic Manhattan cocktail party, this musical revue borrows almost 30 songs from Stephen Sondheim’s other shows. Those classics include “Sorry-Grateful” from Company, “Pretty Women” from Sweeney Todd and “Everybody Ought to Have a Maid” from A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum. In addition, the playhouse presents two nights of cabaret each month. Call 407645-0145 or visit for further information.


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a conscious one, Nancy tells me. “I think it’s because it was speaking to the individual woman. You as a woman can be significant. You can do things.” The club was founded in 1915 by Helen Morse, wife of Charles Hosmer Morse, one the city’s founders and primary benefactors. The first meeting was held at the Morse home, known as Osceola Lodge. The current building, which is listed on the National Register of Historic Places, was built on land donated by Morse. Because it was begun during World War I,

the club’s first projects included making surgical dressings and sending 700 pounds of homemade Florida orange marmalade to troops. Sandra says the club today is as vibrant as ever, despite misconceptions that it consists of “a bunch of little old ladies who drink tea and play bridge.” Hardly. Oh, there may some bridge playing and tea drinking going on from time to time. But the club has a $1 million Scholarship Endowment Fund and helps college-bound young people — male and female, from Orange and Seminole


hen your community has been around for more than 125 years, you’ll have a number of organizations celebrating centennials. Last year it was the Winter Park Country Club. This year it’s the Woman’s Club of Winter Park. Led by President Sandra Blossey, the club is housed in a lovely circa-1920s neoclassical building on Interlachen Avenue. My friend Nancy Miles, the treasurer, introduced me to the group. When the club was founded, the decision to use the word “woman” instead of “women” was

The Woman’s Club of Winter Park, which celebrates its 100th anniversary this year, is located on Interlachen Avenue in a charming neoclassical building that’s listed on the National Register of Historic Places. The postcard was published shortly after the building was completed.



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counties — with awards ranging between $800 and $3,000. New member Kim Mould, who wrote her master’s thesis on women’s clubs in the South from the 1800s to 1970, says such organizations rose rapidly around the turn of the 20th century. “More women were being educated and getting out of the house, but certainly it wasn’t for jobs at that point,” Kim says. “It was through woman’s clubs that women all over the country got involved in their communities.” With educational programs, fundraising events and civic involvement, the Woman’s Club of Winter Park remains an integral part of our special community. Kudos on its 100th anniversary.  After moving here in 2006, I quickly got a crash course in Winter Park history. Our nextdoor neighbor is David Elliott, proprietor of Cottrell’s 5 & 10 on Park Avenue from 1950 to until it closed in 1985. David’s father-in-law founded the business and ran it from 1933 to 1950. Chico’s is in the space now. With upwards of 15,000 individual items in stock, Cottrell’s was the go-to place for most anything you needed, including “more hairnets than anywhere else in the world,” David tells me with a laugh. When it was learned that David was selling the building and closing the store, longtime customers were heartbroken, and one even started a petition to try and persuade him to change his mind. Winter Parkers become attached to the businesses along Park Avenue. I recently had lunch at 310 Park with Justin Ingram, manager of the Winter Park Country Club, which also just celebrated a centennial, and his wife, Elizabeth. Both grew up here, moved away, and boomeranged right back. Elizabeth got her first haircut when she was just a year old at Marvaldi: A Hair & Makeup Studio. Four years ago, owner Doug Marvaldi did hair and makeup for her wedding. She fondly remembers visiting The Paper Shop, owned by Ellen Prague, to get invitations to tea parties she threw with her mother. Other businesses she misses? “Jacobson’s for sure,” Elizabeth says of the iconic clothing store. “That’s where I got my first bikini, my first halter top and all my shoes when I was growing up. And Rune Stone was my favorite toy store ever.” Justin says he misses Thomas Sweet, an icecream parlor where Croissant Gourmet is now. “Elizabeth agrees, and adds the more recently


closed Brandywine Deli to the list.  The Ingrams’ comments about Thomas Sweet reveal something of a generation gap. Babyboom locals are always raving about East India Ice Cream Company, which closed in 1989. Spa on Park Avenue is in the space today. Native Winter Parker Andrea Smith, owner of Winter Park-based Fetch, Stay & Play, a pet playcare and sitting service, has vivid memories of the iconic eatery: “I don’t eat dairy today, but back then, there was nothing better than a scoop of Oreo ice cream in a cute silver bowl with a sugar cone on top.”. Many agree, citing the ambiance as well as the ice cream. “East India was awesome,” says longtime local Lisa Coney, compliance director for Service Corporation International. “We all hung out and cruised Park Avenue. There was an infamous motorcycle cop who’d give you a ticket for impeding traffic if you stopped to talk to your friends. And we all stopped anyway.” “I also miss East India,” adds Molly Losey, a Winter Park-based mental health counselor and life coach. “It had a great atmosphere and good food. It was full of locals and a great meet-up place.”  Right across the street, Molly’s in-laws owned the Little Professor, later Park Books, which closed in 1996 and was the last indy bookstore in Winter Park, not counting Brandywine Books, a local fixture that sells only used titles. At least, it was the last indy bookstore until now. Bibliophiles are rejoicing over the opening of The Writer’s Block Bookstore on Welbourne Avenue. I spoke with the store’s owner, Lauren Zimmerman, a former DCF attorney, and asked what compelled her to go into the book business at a time when Amazon and e-books seem to be pushing brick-and-mortar operations — even the big chains — out. “I don’t have my elevator story put together yet,” she says, referring to an old saying about coming up with a story that can be told in the time it takes to ride an elevator. “The reception has just been fabulous,” Lauren adds. “Everyone is so excited that we’re here. I’ve tried to give the store a sense of being at home in your living room. You know, just sitting down and reading a book. I wanted to make it extremely comfortable and extremely welcoming.” While a bookstore may sound a tad old school

to some, Lauren’s use of social media to promote her enterprise is anything but. “Social media has been what has snowballed this,” she says. “I had about 1,000 likes on Facebook before I opened the doors.”  Directly across the street is another new shop. The Grove, which opened in early December in beautifully renovated space behind Be On Park, introduces a new clothing and home furnishings combo concept to Park Avenue The business is owned by Emily Williams and Meredith Gardner. Meredith is a veteran of Park Avenue retail, having worked as manager of Lilly Pulitzer on Park Avenue for six years. “I’ve wanted my own store for a long time,” she tells me. “I love the space. I love the people I work with. I love that I can have a creative outlet and some say over what we carry.”  By now, you’ve probably heard about The Peacock Project. It was undertaken by a young man named John Michael Thomas as an Eagle Scout project that also honored his friend Elizabeth Buckley, who died at 13 from a brain tumor. John Michael’s efforts have resulted in a beautiful bronze peacock fountain being installed in the Central Park rose garden, a place that Elizabeth loved. This is truly one of the most wonderful efforts I’ve ever had the pleasure of witnessing. I’m grateful to have had a small role in helping to get the word out. I spoke with Lloyd Lightsey, owner of The Pond Monster, who was working with the city to prepare the site. His words reflected the feelings of everyone who rallied behind this cause: “John Michael? Come on, what can you say? What he’s done, at his age, in this day and time, is just absolutely phenomenal and totally heartfelt. The crew, we’re just so privileged to work on it. We feel blessed and honored to do it.”

Clyde Moore, whose alter ego is Parker the Owl, owns I LUV Winter Park Inc., a company that promotes the city and its businesses. He has a degree in journalism and advertising from the University of North Carolina at Chapel Hill. Follow him on social media at #ILUVWinterPark #ILUVParkAvenue.


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The courtyard showcases ornate architectural design in a natural setting.

A NATIONAL TREASURE The Maitland Art Center is an otherworldly place that reflects its founder’s creative spirit. Now, the whole world will know about this not-so-hidden local treasure. BY KAREN LEBLANC PHOTOGRAPHS BY MACBETH PHOTO AND KELLY CANOVA


he Maitland Art Center, with its quirky Mayan Revival architecture and its resident ghost, is now a National Historic Landmark, joining such iconic places as the Empire State Building, the Gateway Arch, the White House, Hoover Dam and Walden Pond. Located on West Packwood Avenue near Lake Sybelia, the center is the crown jewel of an ensemble of facilities known collectively as the Art & History Museums—Maitland. The sprawling complex of galleries, studios and gardens was already listed on the National Register of Historic Places, which encompasses about 80,000 sites. An honor, to be sure, but not an exceedingly exclusive one. By contrast, there are only 2,532 designated National Historic Landmarks. The program, administered by the National Parks Service, recognizes sites, structures, objects or districts “that exceptionally illustrate or interpret the heritage of the United States.” The center has become the first National Historic Landmark in the four-county area — Orange, Osceola, Lake and Seminole — and just the 44th in the state. In greater Central Florida, there are four other National Historic Landmarks: the Windover Archaeological Site and the Cape Canaveral Air Force Station, both in Brevard County; and the Bok Tower Gardens and the Florida Southern College Architectural District, both in Polk County. “Our community truly has a hidden gem in the Maitland Art Center,” says Maitland Mayor Howard Schieferdecker. A gem indeed. But certainly no longer a hidden one. nnn In 1937, artist and architect Jules André Smith built the Maitland Art Center, then called the Research Studio, to foster artistic experimentation and to provide artists with an inspirational environment in which to work. While the center is billed as one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast, its imagery is drawn from many sources. European, Chinese, Christian, African, Persian and, of course, Mayan signs and symbols mix and mingle in an otherworldly way. Over the next two decades, until his death in 1959, Smith lived and worked at the facility, as did many other artists. He hand-carved most of the center’s signature sculptural reliefs using a special pivot table that could turn upward. A replica of the table, which Smith invented, is on display in one of the studios. Some say Smith’s spirit still roams the grounds, checking on unsuspecting artists and making certain that the dozen or so whimsically adorned buildings and colorfully landscaped courtyards are being properly maintained. “The campus is an exceptionally important example of rare



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The serene lily pond, once chlorinated but now stocked with koi fish, has always been the focal point of the center’s lush main garden. Executive Director Andrea Bailey Cox (left) calls the campus “truly a masterpiece, created over 22 years with one singular artistic vision.”





Mayan Revival architecture from the Art Deco period,” says Andrea Bailey Cox, executive director of the Art & History Museums-Maitland. Other facilities under the same umbrella organization include the Maitland Historical Museum, the Telephone Museum, the Waterhouse Residence Museum and the Carpentry Shop Museum. “What makes the center especially significant is the fact that it was truly a masterpiece, created over 22 years with one singular artistic vision.” Mayan Revival architecture, considered to be an iteration of Art Deco, was used primarily for commercial buildings in the 1920s and 1930s.


Some residential architects, most notably Frank Lloyd Wright, were also intrigued. Wright’s Ennis House, for example, was built in 1923 using preColumbian motifs and interlocking pre-cast concrete blocks. The house, located in Los Angeles, is replete with bas-relief ornamentation. “There was a lot of archeological discovery going on in the 1930s, which fueled the American imagination and interest in the Mayan culture,” explains Bailey Cox, who adds that the style never achieved wide popularity and fell out of vogue after a decade or so. nnn Publicity surrounding the center’s designation has already attracted new categories of visitors, notes Bailey Cox. Among them are curious architects, artists and historians from around the country. University of Virginia architectural historian Richard Guy Wilson recently toured the center and pronounced it “one of the most inspiring creations in the United States, in which you’re transported to another realm — almost a dream — which is the purpose of great works of art.” As a practical matter, the designation makes

the center more competitive when seeking grant money, always a crucial consideration for organizations tasked with maintaining aging buildings. And National Park Service staffers are available to offer guidance on preservation issues. “As awareness and support increases, we can accomplish our vision of engaging artists and building our public programming,” says Bailey Cox. She also aims to leverage the center’s heightened national profile with a lineup of innovative outreach programs and an ambitious roster of restoration and improvement projects. On Jan. 8, the center will celebrate the designation with a public ceremony. Guests will include a former resident, Peter Banca, son of the original gallery director, who’ll speak about his experience growing up in an artist colony. In the meantime, Smith’s specter must surely be pleased about what’s happening — and what’s about to happen — at the funky five-acre enclave, tucked just minutes from Maitland’s busy commercial corridor along U.S. 17-92. “One of our goals is to return the campus and the studios back to their original states, and to


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The hauntingly beautiful outdoor chapel (above) is a prime example of Mayan Revival architecture and remains a popular special-events venue. The main entrance (below) hints at the wonders behind the painted block walls, which are adorned with intricate sculptural reliefs.


have artists living and working in them,” says Bailey Cox. In Smith’s original studio, a north-facing window that had been boarded up for two decades, now opens onto a garden and provides workspace for emerging artists. The Bok studio, once home to patron Mary Curtis Bok during her visits, now hosts the center’s Artists-in-Action program, which provides non-residential studio space for emerging or established artists. And work is underway to reclaim painted-over murals on the interior walls. “It’s going to require a lot of delicate hand work to separate out the white paint from the murals underneath,” says Bailey Cox. A suite of offices will soon be transformed into an artist residence with adjoining workspaces and more classrooms. And the courtyard across the street, which was built as an outdoor chapel and remains a popular venue for weddings, will be restored and some sculptures now in storage will be reinstalled.


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The Maitland Art Center, originally called the Research Studio, was the singular vision of artist and architect André Smith (right), who wanted to create an environment where creators could experiment and collaborate. Smith lived and worked at the center until his death in 1959.

A master gardener is sprucing up the landscaping around the recently restored lily pond, once chlorinated and now stocked with Koi fish. Next door, the Germaine Marvel building, originally an artist residence and now a specialevents space, has been expanded and renovated. Track lighting and gallery hardware equip the interior for small exhibitions, while a majestic oak tree stands watch over a new sculpture garden. Future plans call for transforming the shuffleboard courts into a multipurpose outdoor plaza. That project will be funded by the Maitland Rotary Club. Some aspects of the center, though, will be left alone. Originally, the majority of the exterior basreliefs were hand painted in vivid colors. But decades of sun, wind and rain erosion took their toll. “We didn’t restore the colors because there’s so much debate [among preservationists] over whether one can reproduce the master’s hand,” says Bailey Cox. “We’ve left the exterior reliefs in their present


condition, and now use them as educational tools to talk about the importance of preservation.” nnn Bailey Cox had been executive director of the Maitland Historical Society when it merged with the Maitland Art Association in 2010. The combined organization then embarked on a campaign to brand and promote the city’s cultural attractions under the Art & History Museums-Maitland umbrella. Since taking the helm, Bailey Cox has pursued a vision that fosters the erstwhile colony’s core ideals of collaboration and experimentation. She’s particularly proud of the Artist-in-Residence Program, which started in 2013 and provides three-, six- or nine-week residencies that include studio space and housing. The nationally competitive program has hosted four artists so far. Her development efforts have resulted in a 116 percent increase in annual giving over the past three years. An array of new community outreach pro-

grams have been launched. And, of course, there’s the National Historic Landmark designation, which was the culmination of a team effort that also involved architectural historian Christine Madrid French, who completed the voluminous nomination forms and gathered supporting documentation.



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More than 200 reliefs, sculptures and murals can be found throughout the campus. The words inscribed here are from a poem popularly known as “The Gate of the Year,” written in 1908 by British sociologist Minnie Louise Haskins.

ethereal encounter that occurred shortly after she became executive director: “I saw a gentleman with gray hair, with his back turned to me. To this day, everyone swears that nobody was on campus that early, and that I saw André working in the studio.” If she happens upon Smith again, he ought to glance up from his carving table and give her a big thumbs up. As a result of her accomplishments, Bailey Cox, who has a B.A. in art history from New College in Sarasota, recently earned a Martin Bell Scholarship for the Rollins College Executive MBA program. One such scholarship is awarded annually to a senior not-for-profit professional who demonstrates outstanding leadership.

nnn Oh, about that ghost. Bailey Cox won’t come right out and say she believes the stories that have been reported by past staffers and several visitors over the years. But, when politely pressed during an interview last year, she told Winter Park Magazine about an

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Georgia Bernbaum, 12, says she considered ways in which she could help children living at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. “I thought about what it would be like to live at the coalition, and what kids my age would like to do there,” she says. “Then I just knew that I wanted to create the Dance Happy Project.”



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BIG HEART Georgia Bernbaum’s project allows homeless children to experience the joy of dance. By RANDY NOLES


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eorgia Bernbaum, 12, wanted to promote dance and help homeless children with her bat mitzvah project. “We were thinking she’d do something small,” says her mother, Elizabeth. For example, Georgia might consider donating money to a scholarship fund at the Center for Contemporary Dance, where she’d been taking lessons. Oh, but simply writing a check was much too easy. Georgia was a little girl, but she wanted to make a big impact. That’s how the Dance Happy Project was born. The program, which was recently covered in the Huffington Post, has for the past year provided free dance instruction to youngsters living at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. Georgia even hired her own teacher, Dario J. Moore, to work with the coalition kids. Moore has a master’s degree in dance education and 15 years of experience teaching dance to special populations, including those with Down syndrome, autism spectrum disorder and cerebral palsy. Georgia funded her effort through modest grants from the Orlando chapter of The Awesome Foundation, which awards $1,000 stipends to arts-related efforts “that help to advance awesomeness in the universe,” and from the Pollination Project, founded by a Dallas millionaire who decided to give away $1,000 a day for the rest of his life to promote social justice. Unquestionably, creating the Dance Happy Project was an impressive accomplishment for the precocious youngster, a Maitland Middle School student with a dancer’s willowy build, a mouth full of braces and head full of curly dark hair. But, with grant money running out, nobody would have blamed her for accepting some well-earned kudos and bowing out. Georgia, however, was only getting started. On Monday, Feb. 9, the Dance Happy Project will hold its first major fundraiser: a silent art auction at the The Margeson Theater in the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. The doors will open at 5:45 p.m. for a pre-show viewing. More than 50 pieces have been donated by an international roster of acclaimed artists, including some local favorites such as Cory Wright, a regular participant in the Winter Park Paint Out, and Charles Gatewood, a past Best of Show winner at the Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. At 6:30 p.m., there’ll be a dance concert emceed by radio personality Moira from Real Radio 104.1’s Phillips Phile. Central Florida modern dance companies, including Dawn Branch Works, Mary Love Project, Coby Proj-


ect and DRIP, will perform. The cost is $10 for general admission and $15 for advanced seating. Tickets can be purchased through the Center for Contemporary Dance by calling 407-695-8366. Georgia wrote to more than 100 artists asking for auction donations. And, using leads provided by Moore and other adults, she recruited the participating dance companies and asked their choreographers to create original works for the show. Her motivation? She wanted to continue sharing the healing power of dance with children who’ve had to face extraordinarily tough personal challenges. Dance, she believes, provides an outlet for creative expression and enhances self-esteem. “I thought about what it would be like to live at the coalition, and what kids my age would like to do there,” she says. “Then I just knew that I wanted to create the Dance Happy Project.” The goal of the fundraiser, Georgia adds, is to raise enough money to keep the program going for three years. Each series of classes costs about $500, most of which is used to pay the instructors. Moore, who is technically Georgia’s employee as well as her teacher, “is truly brilliant, magical, when he teaches,” according to Elizabeth. “If Georgia found someone else equally charismatic, she could also hire that person. She’s the boss.” True, but like all good bosses, she knows when it’s best to delegate. The Center for Contemporary Dance, a nonprofit based in Winter Park, agreed to accept the project under its umbrella so that donations would be tax deductible. Executive Director Craig Johnson has helped Georgia investigate additional grants and is mentoring her in the minutiae of nonprofit management. Elizabeth, a reporter turned volunteer, and Lee, her attorney father, have provided general guidance while allowing Georgia to do as much as she’s legally able to do. She was, for example, too young to sign the venue rental contract or to even start a Facebook page. Her mom manages the social media campaign and monitors her correspondence. “What Georgia has accomplished is exciting, especially considering her age,” Elizabeth says. “There’s a small village of adults supporting her. Otherwise, the Dance Happy Project’s mission, the name, the logo, the fundraiser — all of these things are guided by Georgia.” The pre-teen force behind the feel-good program says that in addition to the personal satisfaction that comes from helping others, she’s learning a lot from the experience — and may have found her calling in the process. Says Georgia: “I think that I may want to make a career of fundraising for the causes I care about.”


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Tampa-based artist Cory Wright’s Park Avenue scene will be one of the works available for purchase at the silent auction. Wright is a regular participant in the Winter Park Paint Out.

THE DANCE HAPPY PROJECT SILENT AUCTION What: A silent auction benefiting the Dance Happy Project, a program that provides dance instruction for children at the Coalition for the Homeless of Central Florida. The program is administered under the umbrella of the Center for Contemporary Dance, a Winter Park-based nonprofit. Where: The Margeson Theater in the John and Rita Lowndes Shakespeare Center. When: Monday, Feb. 9. What time: Doors open at 5:45 p.m.; the program starts at 6:30 p.m.; auction bidding closes at 7:30 p.m. How much: $10 for general admission, $15 for reserved seating. Tickets: Call the Center for Contemporary Dance at 407-695-8366. W INTE R 2 0 1 5 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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Indefatigable conductor John Sinclair has become one of the best-known — and hardest-working — leaders of Central Florida’s cultural community.



ohn V. Sinclair was readying himself to conduct yet another Candlelight Processional at Epcot when he was approached by a soft-spoken senior citizen who was instantly recognizable even though a bald pate now gleamed where a frizzy forest of blond hair had once sprouted. Art Garfunkel was among more than a dozen celebrity narrators who would read the biblical story of Christ’s birth during Disney’s annual holiday spectacular, which features a 50-piece orchestra and a 400-voice choir. “You’re the conductor who does Bach,” said Garfunkel, who with Paul Simon recorded some of the most enduring pop songs of the 20th century. “I love his B Minor Mass.” Sinclair, whose reputation as an interpreter of Bach is international, was nonetheless a bit surprised that the Rock and Roll Hall of Famer knew who he was. But he was even more intrigued to learn that Garfunkel loved the German master’s work. “Hey,” said Garfunkel with a shrug. “We all have to grow up sometime.”


Sinclair, 60, chair of the Department of Music at Rollins College and artistic director of the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, could relate. “I guess the older I get, the more classical music speaks to me,” he says. Classical music speaks to thousands of others through Sinclair, a fifthgeneration teacher whose gray-bearded visage has become arguably the most recognizable in Central Florida’s cultural community. He routinely conducts about 150 performances a year, in addition to his work as a teacher and a department head. Sinclair also serves as music director of the First Congregational Church of Winter Park; director of the local Messiah Choral Society; and conductor of the International Moravian Music Festivals. His seemingly boundless energy both delights and confounds his admirers, who wonder how long he can maintain such a crushing schedule of classes, concerts and clinics. “Whenever I see a handful of people singing or playing instruments, and it doesn’t matter where, I’m surprised when I don’t also see John there with his baton,” says one longtime member of the Bach Festival Choir with a chuckle. “Any one of the things he does would be a full-time job for most people.”


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Sinclair is equally adept at directing choirs and orchestras, and can do so simultaneously without favoring one at the expense of the other. Each task requires a particular set of skills, and leading a combined performance requires a synthesis of superb musicianship and split-second timing. However, the man the Orlando Sentinel once dubbed “Central Florida’s resident conductor” shrugs off the suggestion that what he does is in any way exceptional. Although his music might be described as highbrow, Sinclair is an unpretentious Midwesterner with working-class roots. His students and colleagues address him simply as “Doc.” “I just do my job,” says Sinclair. “I show up and try really hard. I take my work very seriously, but I try to not take myself very seriously. I also consider myself hugely fortunate to make music for a living. I guess you could say I lead a remarkable, unremarkable life.”


Sinclair was born in Kansas City, Mo., but as a child lived in Camden, a small farming community of several hundred people about 40 miles east. His father, Dee, worked for General Motors — in what capacity, exactly, Sinclair has no idea — and his mother, Marilyn, was an elementaryschool music teacher. She taught her son to play

the piano and nudged him toward classical, although he preferred rock and ragtime. Marilyn’s people were Jacksons, directly descended from Old Hickory and proud of their lineage. Buck and Agnes Jackson, Sinclair’s maternal grandparents, operated the Jackson General Store, a Camden institution that offered everything from groceries to hardware to sporting goods. Jesse James, it was said, had shopped there, actually paying for his purchases. “The place opened in 1840,” says Sinclair, who displays the store’s bulky cash register in his cluttered office along with assorted busts of composers (some wearing whimsical hats), his first baseball glove, an array of awards and thousands of books, CDs and musical scores packed in floor-to-ceiling shelves. “I hung out at the store every day,” he adds, recalling the long wooden counters and glass candy cases. There was even a pot-bellied stove at the rear, around which regulars gathered and whiled away blustery winter days. “I had chores to perform. It’s an important part of who I am, and I’m proud of the work ethic I think it instilled.” The family moved to Independence — famous as the home of Harry Truman — when Sinclair was 11. There he attended Chrisman High School, where he played trumpet in the band — he was a fan of horn-heavy rock groups such as

Chicago and Blood, Sweat and Tears — and was active in sports, especially baseball and basketball. At band practice, he recalls, the youthful musicians would sometimes spy Truman taking one of his legendary unescorted afternoon strolls, prompting hurried but heartfelt renditions of “Hail to the Chief.” Sinclair’s Show-Me State sensibilities were strengthened at William Jewell College, a Baptist-affiliated liberal-arts institution in Liberty, Mo., where he earned an undergraduate degree in music. Then it was off to the University of MissouriKansas City’s Conservatory of Music and Dance, where he earned master’s and doctoral degrees in music education, with an emphasis on conducting. After graduation, Sinclair worked as a middleschool choral director in Belton, a suburb of Kansas City, in part to be near his high-school girlfriend, Gail Duvé, who was completing her English degree. The couple married in 1977, and both got jobs teaching high school in Sedalia, Mo. Gail, who holds a doctorate in American literature from the University of South Florida, is herself a force in the region’s intellectual life. She’s executive director of the Winter Park Institute, a Rollins-affiliated not-for-profit program that brings an array of internationally known thought leaders to campus. She’s also a noted scholar on the works of Ernest Hemingway and F. Scott Fitzgerald.

Sinclair, whose students and colleagues usually call “Doc,” has been dubbed “Central Florida’s resident conductor.”



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Whatever professional accolades come his way, Sinclair considers himself first and foremost a teacher.

Her husband’s prodigious work ethic isn’t something he developed late in life, Gail says. “My first date with John was a blind date,” she recalls. “I remember thinking, ‘This guy is going to go places, and I want to go, too.’” The first place they went was Marshall, Texas, a funky mid-sized city that proclaims itself “the birthplace of boogie-woogie.” John became director of choirs at East Texas Baptist University and Gail taught high-school English. When the department chair position at Rollins became available in 1985, it was a trio of quintessential Winter Park characters — Rollins President Thaddeus Seymour, former Rollins President Hugh McKean and businessman John Tiedtke — who got the couple to Winter Park, and ultimately kept them here. “I interviewed with Thad Seymour,” recalls Sinclair. “I was so impressed that the college president would bother to meet with a lowly assistant professor. He said to me, ‘John, Rollins is the sort of place where one person can make a difference. I think that person is you.’” At 6-feet-6, the charismatic Seymour, now

president emeritus, cut an imposing figure and made a persuasive case. But what truly attracted Sinclair was the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, an organization technically unaffiliated with the college, but which he expected to head as artistic director and conductor. “Definitely, the Bach Festival is what really interested me,” Sinclair says. “It was promised — at least it was implied — as part of the job.” The society’s longtime artistic director, Ward Woodbury, had just stepped down after suffering a stroke. Woodbury, a Rollins music professor, had been replaced by Murray Somerville, who concurrently served as choirmaster at the Cathedral Church of St. Luke in Orlando. The society’s artistic director had always been a Rollins faculty member. Therefore, it was assumed that Somerville’s tenure would be temporary. Somerville, however, assumed otherwise.


The Bach Festival Society, founded in 1935, sprang from a Vespers service presented that year on the Rollins campus at Knowles Memorial

Chapel. The event was organized by Christopher Honaas, dean of the college’s whimsically named Division of Expressive Arts. At the urging of then-President Hamilton Holt, a committee of professors and community leaders formed a Bach Festival Committee in 1937 “to present to the public for its enlightenment, education, pleasure and enjoyment musical presentations, both orchestral and choral.” The Bach Festival Society was incorporated in 1940. By the time Sinclair arrived, the society and its annual festival had for decades been the personal domain of Tiedtke, a shrewd businessman who had made his fortune growing sugar, citrus and corn in South Florida. McKean had asked his boyhood friend to take charge in 1950, when founding society President Isabelle Sprague-Smith died and the organization’s future seemed in doubt. The no-nonsense Tiedtke proved a fortuitous choice. He loved music — he played a little piano, but mostly enjoyed listening ­­­— and was a consistent and generous donor to communitybased arts organizations. At Rollins, he had been treasurer and chairman of the board of trustees.

“I just do my job. I show up and try really hard. I take my work very seriously, but I try to not take myself very seriously. I also consider myself hugely fortunate to make music for a living. I guess you could say I lead a remarkable, unremarkable life.”


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McKean, an iconic Winter Park figure, had been an art professor at Rollins before his elevation to the presidency. He had also married Jeannette Genius, granddaughter of Charles Hosmer Morse, a benevolent industrialist who had helped shape modern Winter Park. Together, the McKeans had created the Morse Museum of American Art, which they stocked with salvaged and restored works by Louis Comfort Tiffany. “Mr. Tiedtke and Dr. McKean understood that with great wealth comes responsibility,” says Sinclair, who still refers to both men using formal titles, even in casual conversation. “They would have lunch together every Saturday. They started inviting me to come along, and those lunches were hugely interesting.” Sinclair, who says he sometimes felt “a little like a third wheel,” would listen in awe as the old friends discussed art, philosophy and the events of the day. They would even spar over who should pay the tab. After 40 years of lunches, McKean joked, he remembered only a handful of times when Tiedtke picked up the bill. But when the subject of the society came up, it was clear that Tiedtke, the primary funder as well as the hands-on boss, called the shots. There would be a new artistic director only when Tiedtke decided that there ought to be. After nearly five years passed with Somerville at the helm, Sinclair felt that an impasse had been reached. The Sinclairs had two children — Taylor, now 27, and Kaley, now 26 — and loved Rollins and their comfortable home in Maitland.


Still, several high-profile institutions, including Penn State, were making overtures. And Sinclair was tempted to explore them. The unflappable McKean, at Tiedtke’s request, persuaded Sinclair to stay put and counseled patience. Shortly thereafter, Somerville left for a position as organist and choirmaster at Harvard University’s Memorial Church, and Sinclair finally took up the baton. This year marks his 25th anniversary with the society “Mr. Tiedtke knew I had strong opinions,” recalls Sinclair. “But he could be persuaded in some instances. Basically, he said, ‘You pick what you want to do and I get veto power.’” Sinclair, perhaps making up for lost time, and with Tiedtke’s support, helped guide the society through its most productive period. Today, what started as a single Sunday performance has grown into a full-fledged festival with a 160-member choir, a permanent orchestra and a packed schedule of concerts, many of which feature internationally renowned guest soloists. Festival-related activities are held virtually year-round, culminating with the main event in February. In addition, the choir has made four European tours and performed with the Bach Choir of London in Royal Albert Hall and in St. Peter’s Basilica at the Vatican. Perhaps most important, the society’s financial future was secured by establishment of an endowment, which was initially bolstered by gifts from the Elizabeth Morse Genius Foundation and from Tiedtke himself, who continued to serve as president until 2003.

Tiedtke died the following year at 97, and to the end was cajoling Central Florida businesspeople to do their civic duty and give more to the arts. In fact, Sinclair’s continued presence in Winter Park can be counted among the plainspoken philanthropist’s many legacies. Just before Tiedtke’s death, Rollins established the John M. Tiedtke Endowed Chair of Music. For once, the man for whom the chair was named wasn’t asked to write a check. Others contributed generously, including an anonymous $250,000 donation that was later revealed to have come from one Fred McFeely Rogers, Class of ’51, a music composition major who became TV’s Mister Rogers and befriended the Sinclairs during his frequent Winter Park visits. Sinclair, of course, was appointed as the Tiedtke chair’s first recipient. “It was an honor to know these two brilliant and good men,” Sinclair says of Tiedke and McKean, who died in 1995. “They were great role models for me.” Living up to the examples set by Tiedtke and McKean has been a continuing priority for Sinclair. Tiedkte believed that well-run, well-supported arts organizations were integral to any enlightened community, and McKean believed that any academician worth his salt was first and foremost a classroom teacher. Susan Tucker, who sings in both the Bach Festival Choir and the First Congregational Church Choir, has admired Sinclair’s synthesis of organizational prowess, intellectual heft and personal empathy for more than 25 years.


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Sinclair is celebrating 25 years as artistic director of the Bach Festival Society of Winter Park, which has an audition-only choir and a permanent orchestra. Many performances are held in the historic Knowles Memorial Chapel at Rollins College.

“John is one of the most intellectual conductors I’ve ever known, as well as being a consummate teacher,” says Tucker. “One of the things I enjoy most is that he informs us about the composers and the works we’re presenting. That allows us to better perform each one. Plus, he’s compassionate and easy to talk to.” Tucker and others say that Sinclair’s expressive, sometimes theatrical conducting style brings out the best in choirs and orchestras, professional and amateur, energizing both familiar masterworks and seldom-heard compositions that Sinclair has chosen to pluck from obscurity. Eric Ravndal, society president since 2004, is a retired Episcopal priest and a Tiedtke cousin. Under his leadership, the organization has been revamped as a more traditionally structured notfor-profit, with a diverse board and a paid staff. Although Ravndal’s collaborative management style is a departure for the society, he, like his legendary predecessor, recognizes that his indefatigable maestro brings more to the position of artistic director and conductor than an unerring ear for music. “John is a natural educator,” says Ravndal. “I attend nearly every rehearsal. And I can tell you that the musicians never leave a rehearsal without having learned more about the music they’re performing. It’s an incredible gift.”


Sinclair’s cluttered office at Rollins is the lair of a man ensconced and immersed. And he is run-

ning out of space to display the recognitions that continually come his way. There was an Arthur Vining Davis Fellowship in 2000, presented annually by the Jacksonvillebased foundation for achievements in teaching, academic research and community outreach. There was the Hugh and Jeannette McKean Faculty Grant in 2005, which Sinclair used to record a CD of seldom-heard Moravian music performed by the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra. There was the William E. Barden Distinguished Teaching Award in 2012, which was the result of a vote by students at the Hamilton Holt School, the college’s evening program. There was the Cornell Distinguished Service Award in 2013, the recipients of which are selected by a panel of deans and up to four past winners. Sinclair has twice been named Outstanding Music Educator of the Year by United Arts of Central Florida. He founded both the Rollins Community School of Music and the Bach Festival’s Arts-in-Education program, FreshSTARTS. A recognition that Sinclair appears to particularly cherish came in 2013, when William Jewell College saluted him and two other notable alumni at its annual Celebration of Achievement ceremony. The other honorees included a CEO and a federal district judge. Not that Sinclair intends to rest on his laurels. Or to rest at all, for that matter. His other gigs include conductor of the International Moravian Music Festivals, which at first blush

appears puzzling. However, his affinity for the Winston-Salem, N.C.-based Moravian Music Society was an outgrowth of a 1993 Bach Festival program he organized called “Music of the Moravians.” As a historian, Sinclair knew that the Moravian Church considered performing music to be an act of worship, and it helped introduce Bach’s works to America in the mid-1700s. Since the Moravians hold their festival only once every two years, he figured he could squeeze in conducting chores without too much difficulty. Perhaps Sinclair’s most high-profile engagement is as one of two conductors during Epcot’s multi-performance Candlelight Processional. Over the past 18 years he’s led more than 650 holiday performances at the attraction’s American Garden Theatre, where some attendees find him as entertaining to watch as the celebrity narrators. Most Sundays, Sinclair is leading the choir at the First Congregational Church of Winter Park, a “temporary” job that has now lasted 28 years. Although they are not formally affiliated, the church founded Rollins in 1885, and the neighboring institutions have enjoyed close ties throughout the ensuing 130 years. “Working with the church is a great opportunity for [Rollins] students,” says Sinclair, who seeds the choir with collegiate singers and supplements the omnipresent organ with various instrumental ensembles. “It’s like a medical school having a teaching hospital.” One Sunday several years ago, when the senior W INTE R 2 0 1 5 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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minister was on sabbatical, Sinclair even delivered the sermon, albeit a highly ecumenical and self-deprecating one he titled “The Gospel According to the Not-So-Saintly John.” But there’s another, less practical and more poignant reason that Sinclair retains an affinity for worship services. “My grandmother once told me something I’ve always remembered,” he recalls. “She said, ‘John, God gave you this talent. So you need to be somewhere using it on Sunday mornings.’” Shawn Garvey, the church’s senior minister since 2013, is glad Sinclair heeded his grandmother’s admonition. “I can honestly say that one of the reasons I was excited about coming to Winter Park was the opportunity to work with John,” says Garvey, who previously pastored a church in New Jersey. “I knew of his reputation even up there.” Garvey says Sinclair has proven to be more than a celebrity choir director that a 400-member church typically couldn’t afford. “He’s a dedicated and loving father, a giving man who shares his grace and talent,” adds Garvey. “I value the relationship.” Sometimes it appears as though Sinclair, like the music he conducts, simply defies time. Although far more of his career is behind him than ahead of him, he seems to be hitting his stride now, at an age when most people are at least considering what they might do during retirement.

“No, no,” says Sinclair when asked if he might consider shedding some professional commitments in the foreseeable future. “I always said I wanted to have a 50-year career, so I’ve got at least 12 more years. Anyway, I’ll recognize when I start to slip. I’ll know when it’s time to stop.” For now, Sinclair is actually adding to his workload by compiling a book on how to stage major choral works. “I’m using only works that I’ve done at least three times myself,” he says. “I want this book to be my gift to the profession.” Though he has little spare time to speak of, Sinclair says he loves to putter in the yard and grow roses. “I’m not very good at it,” he admits. “But I think it’s a result of having come from a farming community. I’ve always got to have a garden.” Sinclair’s culinary preferences aren’t quite as rarefied as his musical ones. When the family dines out, they can often be seen at such places as Bubbaloo’s Bodacious Bar-B-Que or PR’s Taco Palace, both well-loved hole-in-the-wall eateries in Winter Park. And despite his erudite public persona, the John Sinclair his family and friends know retains a streak of unadulterated, misty-eyed Midwestern sentimentality, particularly where his mother and grandmother are concerned. “My grandmother, whom I adored, baked and sent a very small angel-food cake to my daughter on her first birthday,” he recalls. “It arrived, but my grandmother had passed suddenly the day before.

It’s been 26 years, but I’ve never had the heart to throw that cake away. It’s still in our freezer.”


Carmina Burana, composed by Carl Orff in the 1930s and based on a cache of medieval poetry, is an over-the-top showpiece whenever it’s performed. Its most famous movement, “O Fortuna,” has been used in countless film scores, usually to set the scene for some sort of catastrophe, and to incite crowds at such events as Wrestlemania XIV. When it’s staged by the Bach Festival Choir and Orchestra and the Orlando Ballet, the 24-movement cantata offers a quasi-psychedelic experience, with soaring instrumental music, haunting songs delivered in dead languages and lithe dancers leaping and contorting as dry-ice smoke pours from the wings. Last November, Carmina Burana was among the first ticketed events at the new Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. As a nearly full house settled in at the Walt Disney Theater, Sinclair strode into the orchestra pit, turned and politely acknowledged the applause. Then he faced the musicians, paused and removed his long-tailed coat, as if he were preparing for a fistfight instead of a concert. The lights came down, the baton was raised and John Sinclair went to work.

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Mead Botanical Garden is a haven for an array of species, from barred owls to hooded warblers. BY LINDA CARPENTER WITH RANDY NOLES

n the bird world, magical and mystical Mead Botanical Garden is a can’t-miss layover during annual migratory journeys. Like Central Florida itself, the garden encompasses a curious and colorful combination of permanent residents and short-stay tourists, many of them quite literally snowbirds. Consequently, birders toting binoculars and cameras have for years sought (and usually found) rare and beautiful feathered friends whiling away the hours within this lush and primal 48-acre urban oasis, tucked away at the end of South Denning Drive and bounded by Pennsylvania Avenue and Howell Creek. The trick, birders say, is to watch for motion in the trees. Then, as soon as movement ceases, use your binoculars to find the bird. If you’re lucky, and if the winged traveler is hungry after a long flight, it may rest for a moment to feed. Then, if the light is just right, you might see a colorful American redstart or hooded warbler. “I can identify the larger birds; it’s those little ones that hop around in the trees that are so difficult,” says Barbara Miller, who took up bird-watching about four years ago, when she retired. “If they would only stand still long

enough, I could see their markings.” Birds, of course, are notoriously peripatetic. And migration — the mass movement of birds toward their breeding grounds — is spectacular, complex and difficult to generalize. Throughout the world, the precise timing for the arrival of migratory birds varies, and much depends on geography, habitat and weather as well as species. For example “early spring” might mean early February as far south as Florida. While spring and fall are best for birding, you can generally find interesting birds any time of year in the garden. And even when some species have flown the proverbial coop, you may still be able to observe such year-round homebodies as Cooper’s hawks, barred owls, anhingas, red-bellied woodpeckers, distinctive wood ducks and Carolina wrens. Cedar waxwings, palm warblers, gray catbirds and rufous hummingbirds winter in the garden. And truly, can you blame them? Then, in the spring, usually during April and May, there’s a northward flood of songbirds — wood warblers, tanagers, buntings, grosbeaks, orioles, vireos and thrushes — who stop by during their return from the tropics.

Seen often with wings spread out to dry, the anhinga in full breeding plumage has a blue ring around its eye. Photo by Scott Simmons. W INTE R 2 0 1 5 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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With a distinctive guttural song, the solitary, yellow-billed cuckoo is more easily heard than seen as it forages in treetops searching for caterpillars before migrating to South America for the winter. Photo by Sherry Fischer.

For many birders, wood warblers are particular favorites. At the garden, more savvy — and more patient — birders may spy 25 or more different warbler species during spring or fall migration. Along Howell Creek and around Alice’s Pond, you’re also likely to see wading and diving birds such as great blue herons, green herons, wood storks, white ibis and great egrets, among others. In all, there are about 180 different bird species included in the Mead Botanical Garden Birding Checklist, which can be downloaded at the garden’s website. So what’s the otherworldly attraction that this Winter Park wonderland holds for all things


feathered and winged? How did it become the avian equivalent of Disney World? “The flowing water of Howell Creek and the insects that breed around the creek are the main attraction,” says birder Bruce Anderson, co-author of The Birdlife of Florida, a reference guide of Florida’s avifauna. Ironically, the way in which the area around the garden has been developed also likely plays a role. The surrounding residential neighborhoods are older, more lushly landscaped and shaded by massive trees. “From the air, these large green areas look very attractive to a migrating bird,” Anderson adds.

That, he says, is one reason you can see so many more birds — and a wider variety of species — in the garden than in the Genius Drive Nature Preserve, also a bird haven but with less green at its periphery. In addition, the garden’s variety of habitats, including wetlands, open water and an upland area replete with oaks and tall pines, appeals to a number of species, making it an ideal “migration trap.” That’s a birding term for a place where birds can stop for nourishment and rest before continuing their journeys. If you’d like to check out this enchanting alternate universe for yourself, the Orange Audu-


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If you’re lucky — and stealthy — you may see a solitary hooded warbler in the cypress trees near Howell Creek during migration. Photo by Laurence Taylor.


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The cedar waxwing (above) arrives in the winter to feast on mulberries and other fruit as well as flowers and insects. Rare and beautiful, the colorful Cape May warbler (below) visits during migration to feed on the nectar of flowering trees. Photos by Laurence Taylor.

bon Society offers free guided Mead Garden Bird Walks every Saturday in April, complete with loaner binoculars and assistance using them. The walks begin at 8 a.m. and end around 11 a.m., depending upon the weather — and the birds. No reservations are needed. Organized in 2011 by former society president Dick Smith, the walks are led by experienced birders like Larry Martin, the society’s garden liaison, who helps participants find species and identify their distinctive markings, special songs and interesting behaviors. Many of the 25 or so aviary enthusiasts who show up for the walks are older. But a few young


whippersnappers — that name sounds a bit like a bird species, but surprisingly it isn’t — are discovering the joys of birding. Avery Chan, 12, from Oviedo, saw a magnolia warbler for the first time last year during one of the walks. He promptly added it to his “life list, a spreadsheet of all the different species he has personally encountered. There are about 10,000 species worldwide, so he’ll likely never see them all. Still, there’s a measure of satisfaction in adding a new one to his roster, which now numbers about 200. Avery avidly reads bird books and stays close to the guides during the walks, says his father,

Augustine Chan. Often, though, he speaks up with a measure of authority that impresses even the group’s most knowledgeable veterans. On a recent walk, for example, he explained how to tell the difference between a black vulture and a turkey vulture, both common species throughout Florida and the Southeast. “We’ve seen the same birds, so we have the same life list” says Augustine, who was drawn to the hobby by his son’s enthusiasm and ferries him around the state when news spreads of an unusual sighting. They once drove three hours for a chance to glimpse a bar-tailed godwit, a rarity in Central Florida. The bird, however, re-


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The increasingly rare tricolored red-headed woodpecker stores nuts and acorns in the crevices of trees. Photo by Laurence Taylor. W INTE R 20 1 5 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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Striking barred owls have nested in Mead Garden for years, producing a brood of owlets. Photo by Laurence Taylor.


PHOTOGRAPHERS  Sherry Fischer grew up in the St. Petersburg area and has lived in Seminole County for 41 years. Upon retiring from a career in higher education in 2007, she developed a passion for birding and photography.

mained frustratingly elusive. “Mead Garden is a special spot for birding,” says Martin, noting that 57 different species were spotted during October, including black-throated green warblers, hooded warblers, magnolia warblers, and chestnut-sided, bay-breasted and Cape May warblers. Local birders also maintain a Facebook page


called Mead Garden Bird Sightings. Visit for more information. “I hoped that the bird walks would connect the Orange Audubon Society with the community and with Mead Garden,” says Smith. “I also hoped that the community would learn about the significance of the garden to birds and to individuals who love seeing them.”

 Scott Simmons has been an avid nature photographer since 2001. Upon moving to Florida in 2010, his interests turned to birds. The Orange Audubon Society Bird Walks at Mead Garden expanded his knowledge. You can see more of his photography at  Laurence Taylor, an architectural photographer for 25 years, enjoys birding and photographing birds in his spare time. While participating in the Mead Botanical Garden bird survey from 2004 to 2010, he photographed dozens of species there. Some of the photos in this article appear in his book, Impressions of Mead Botanical Garden.


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The Cooper’s hawk, in residence year-round, has short, broad wings and long tails, ideal for fast flight and catching prey. Photo by Scott Simmons.


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Marc Kusche has maintained the “Modern Southern” theme at Hamilton’s Kitchen while broadening its offerings.


SOUL OF THE SWANKY SOUTH A new chef at Hamilton’s Kitchen has kept what locals loved about the Alfond’s eatery and added some new dishes and fresh approaches. The result? Delicious fare in a posh but comfy setting By Rona Gindin Photographs by Rafael Tongol


arc Kusche became a cyber-sleuth before he decided to take the helm at Hamilton’s Kitchen. From his California home, the chef perused dining-oriented websites looking for reviews of the restaurant, which is located at the award-winning Alfond Inn, a boutique hotel owned by Rollins College. Self-appointed online critics, he discovered, generally rated the food highly. Some, however, expressed concerns about variety and portion size. Maybe that was one reason the restaurant appeared to be underperforming, especially considering its primo Winter Park location and quality “Modern Southern” cuisine. Within six weeks of taking over the respected yet underpopulated eatery, Kusche began a culinary renovation process. He was careful to maintain the menu’s general theme and didn’t tinker with the comfortably posh décor. Still, he added new selections, cut prices and, where appropriate, curtailed the generous use of butter and bacon. His primary goal: to make Hamilton’s Kitchen a regular stop for locals. “I don’t want this to be a fine-dining restaurant,” he says matter-of-factly. “I want Winter Park residents and hotel guests alike to be comfortable coming in even for a flatbread and a glass of wine. If they don’t feel right doing that in the dining room, they can have a seat in the lounge or on our outdoor patio, maybe near the fire pit.” Kusche was eager to get neighbors back in to experience the changes, so he introduced two ways to dine for less. First, he instituted a four-course tasting menu featuring several items from the regular dinner menu, albeit in petite portions. It’s only $45, which is quite a bargain since entrées run $22 to $38 a la carte. Second, he used an online coupon site to entice value-seekers with a $59 dinner-for-two deal. Still, bargains and promotions aside, Hamilton’s Kitchen is an upscale place with the sort of refinement you’d expect in an art-filled, college-affiliated hotel that boasts a AAA Four Diamond rating. The space has rustic-chic ambience, with plenty of woods, warm hues and farmhouse chandeliers. It also features an expansive patio — really an alfresco dining room — where the tables are topped with white linens. The skillfully prepared fare is made mostly from wholesome, locally sourced ingredients. Hamilton’s Kitchen may, in fact, become a popular hub for discerning locals seeking high-end comfort food. Kusche joined Hamilton’s Kitchen from Four Seasons, most recently its property in Carlsbad, Calif. The corporate savvy he picked up during his stint with the highly regarded international hotel management company in-


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Shrimp and grits (above left) boasts shrimp cooked with savory sofrito made with simmered-down tomatoes, paprika, onion and garlic. The steak frites (above right) features a generous chunk of coulotte, a particularly flavorful cut.

fluenced decisions he made here, at a small independent operation owned by an upper-tier liberal-arts college. “We offer what the people want,” he says. “People like Cobb salad. I don’t, but people like it, so we have it — and it’s a great one. We added flatbread because people like flatbread. Every second or third table orders it.” Kusche also broadened the restaurant’s fish offerings, noting a personal affinity for seafood that he traces back to his childhood near the water in northern Germany. But he kept die-hard customer favorites such as shrimp and grits and butterscotch pudding. Meals at Hamilton’s Kitchen begin with cheddar-jalapeño biscuits. The tender nibbles are flaky and flavorful and, by the time this article appears, they’ll be served with a crock of housemade honey butter. Locals often discreetly ask to box up a couple of extras to take home. The flatbread is exceptionally good, for flatbread. Kusche is working on bringing in a pizza oven, which will allow him to bake foundations that complement the toppings even better. Still, ours was loaded with disks of ripe tomato, vibrant mozzarella and beautifully bitter baby arugula as well as shaved strips of Parmesan. It


sat atop a pesto-like sauce. By the time you visit, however, the flatbread will have been changed to a variety with yet-more-tender burrata mozzarella, prosciutto and arugula.

Hamilton’s Kitchen has a rustic-chic interior as well as an expansive patio, which is really an alfresco dining room.

Then there’s the incredible shrimp and grits, which has created a buzz since the restaurant first opened in August of 2013. The shrimp are cooked with savory sofrito made with simmereddown tomatoes, paprika, onion and garlic. The sofrito imparts a deep flavor to the shrimp, which are placed atop grits from a Florida grower and finished with a vinaigrette made with datil peppers, which are unique to St. Augustine. Other tempting starters include “salt-roasted beets” with ricotta cheese and pumpkin seeds, Waterkist Farm tomato soup and a house-smoked sturgeon mousse with Old Bay vinaigrette. Choosing only two entrées to try — one fish, the other meat — was an arduous challenge. I yearned for the olive oil-poached snapper, the truffle mushroom risotto, the fish stew, the braised short rib with Yukon Gold mashed potatoes. Oh, the list goes on. We opted for spiced ahi tuna with eggplant caponata and steak frites. The tuna is a modernday take on a classic sweet-and-sour dish. A glistening mass of tuna — raw inside, seared outside — is coated in a rub of ground fennel, coriander and mustard seeds, then seared and sliced into half-inch rectangular wedges. The caponata, tangy yet sweet, is comprised


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The flatbread (above left) is loaded with tomato slices, mozzarella and bitter baby arugula as well as shaved strips of Parmesan. The spiced ahi tuna (above right) is coated in a rub of ground fennel, coriander and mustard seeds, then seared and sliced into rectangular wedges. Ready for dessert? The butterscotch pudding (below), made with 12-year-old Macallan scotch, is an absolute must.

of deep-fried eggplant cubes sautéed with onions, tomatoes, capers, red wine vinegar, salt and pine nuts. The caponata has olives, which wasn’t mentioned on the menu. That was disappointing for my dining companion, who dislikes olives as much as I adore them. Steak frites is a simple steak-and-fries duo when served in standard French brasseries. Kusch, however, has elevated this staple. Most significantly, he did away with the typical thin steak, using instead a generous chunk of coulotte, which he describes as “a particularly flavorful cut of meat.” He marinates the beef in herbed oil, rosemary, garlic, thyme and parsley to impart extra flavor, then grills it to caramelize the exterior and roasts it to completion. It’s accompanied by fries tossed with truffle oil, salt and whatever fresh minced herbs are on hand. Charred broccolini with slivers of caramelized onions completes the presentation. The dessert menu is small and less expensive than it used to be, with prices ranging from $7 to $10. The butterscotch pudding, like the shrimp and grits, was a Hamilton’s Kitchen classic from the get-go. It’s made with 12-year-old Macallan scotch, topped with Chantilly cream and served with a bar of sea-salt chocolate toffee, a crunchy


candy that alone is worth the price of the dish. Let me be blunt: You must order this dessert. The “killer” chocolate cake is a nice sweet with ganache and hot fudge caramel pudding. I suspect the brioche bread pudding with Kentucky bourbon vanilla sauce would offer more of a thrill. Insiders know to reserve the chef ’s table, which is a hefty slab of wood facing the open kitchen. Up to 10 people may enjoy a five-course, winepairing dinner for $125 each. The menu is at the whim of the chefs. “We go to the farmers market, pick up produce and create five courses that are completely different than what’s on the regular menu,” Kusche says. The chefs serve each dish themselves and talk about its components. “People really go for this,” he adds. Well of course they do. Like the restaurant’s expanded, lower-priced menu, the chef ’s table is one of Winter Park’s best-kept secrets. But not for long, I’ll bet.

300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park 407-998-8089


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DINING LISTINGS THE KEY $ Cheap eats, most entrées under $10 $$ Moderate, dinner entrées $15-20 $$$ Pricey, most entrées over $30 $$$$ Many entrées over $30 AMERICAN Another Broken Egg Cafe 430 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-790-7868/ There’s nothing particularly unique about this country-style breakfast eatery, which originated in Louisiana and now has locations throughout the Southeast, including this one in Winter Park Village. There are, of course, omelettes, pancakes, French toast, biscuits and gravy, and Benedicts, accompanied by those ubiquitous little cubed potatoes. But the food is good, the space is pleasing and the service is friendly and efficient. $ The Bistro on Park Avenue 348 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-644-2313/ Located in the Hidden Gardens, this low-key eatery’s glass-enclosed garden room, and its outdoor patio, offer two of the prettiest settings on Park Avenue. Specialties include chef crab cakes, jambalaya, red beans and rice with andoiulle sausage, and pot roast with a blue cheese cream sauce. Brunch is served on Saturdays and Sundays featuring a variety of eggs Benedict, including versions with lobster and soft-shell crab. It’s German Night on Tuesdays and Wednesdays. $$-$$$ Briarpatch Restaurant 252 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-8651. This Park Avenue institution is crowded during breakfast and lunch — and on Sunday for brunch — and incredibly noisy. Fare includes fancy burgers, such as the Grafton white cheddar and sugar-cured bacon burger, as well as sandwiches, salads and omelets. But most patrons are particularly fond of the oversized homemade desserts, including an array of ice creams and such super-rich treats as chocolate layer cake. A bit of trivia: The restaurant’s marble counter once topped the soda fountain at Irvine’s Pharmacy, an even more venerable Park Avenue institution that operated from 1925 to 1973. $-$$ Carmel Café & Wine Bar 140 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4912/ The menu updates the traditional flavors and foods of Mediterranean rim countries such as Italy, Spain, France, Greece and Morocco. Choose from small- or large-plate options and pair foods with an international selection of wines available in three-, six- or nine-ounce pours. Tableside iPads enable guests to control preparation and pacing of the meal, from drinks to dessert, by scrolling, tapping and sending selections. $$ Cask & Larder 656 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333/ From the folks who brought us The Ravenous Pig comes this “Southern Public House” in the former Le Cordon Bleu location. “Cask” is for the beer that’s brewed on site and “larder” is an arcane term for a pantry used primarily in the South, so the cuisine is Southern-inspired and locally sourced, and encompasses the general categories of sausage and country ham; vegetables and grains; fish and oysters; and such delectable oddities as grilled lamb heart, pork belly and foie-gras stuffed quail. Snout-to-tail specials for parties of eight or more involve serving up an entire animal, usually a pig. Now open for lunch Wednesday through Saturday, the midday menu offers more salads and sandwiches along

with more substantial entrees such as rabbit meatloaf and trout. Menus change often to reflect local harvests and fresh catches. So, how’s it going? Cask & Larder was recently named one of the top 11 new restaurants in America by Esquire magazine. Plus the eatery plans to expand into the retail space next door, which will be dubbed Swine & Sons Provisions and will sell charcuterie, sandwiches and growlers, which are 32-ounce cans of its home-brewed beer. $$ The Cheesecake Factory 520 North Orlando Ave., Winter Park. 407-644-4220/ It’s generally always busy at The Cheescake Factory, but fans say the waits are worthwhile. Certainly, with a 20-page menu featuring more than 200 items, there’s something for everyone, including creative entrées as well as pizza, pasta, seafood and steak. There’s also a “SkinnyLicious” menu with lower-calorie options such as shrimp summer rolls. The original, relatively unadorned cheesecake is wonderful, of course, but there are more than three dozen decadent options, including chocolate-coconut cream, peanut butter cup fudge ripple and peppermint bark. $$ The Coop: A Southern Affair 610 W. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 32789/ The eagerly awaited new comfort-food eatery from John Rivers (4 Rivers Smokehouse) is drawing big crowds with such Deep South favorites as chicken and waffles, fried chicken, ham-and-pimento-cheese sandwiches, Low Country shrimp and grits, smothered pork chops, fried catfish, chicken pot pie, mac and cheese, chicken and dumplings, and meatloaf. You can even get fried chicken by the bucket. And don’t forget dessert, such as Coop Moon Pies and old-school banana pudding. Now, lovers of breakfast can get a delicious day’s start with an array of creative omelets, tamale pancakes, chocolatetopped waffles, catfish and grits, pulled pork skillets, biscuits and sausage gravy or, for the traditionalists, the Winter Park Special, with eggs, potatoes or grits and bacon or sausage. $-$$ Dexter’s 558 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407629-1150/ Central Florida has four Dexter’s locations, each of which has become a neighborhood hangout, drawing diners of all ages for hearty portions of creative American fare (at fair prices), good wine and, in some cases, live music. A luncheon favorite is the pressed duck sandwich and Sunday brunches offer a make-your-own omelet option. Casual dress is the rule. $-$$$ First Watch 2215 Casa Aloma Way, Winter Park, 407-3313447; 1221 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-740-7437/ First Watch, founded more than 30 years ago, was a pioneer in the “breakfast, brunch and lunch only” category. The omelettes — including the Killer Cajun, the Via Veneto, the Acapulco Express and The Works, among many others — are the restaurant’s breakfast specialty, while lunch features an array of sandwiches and salads that emphasize fresh ingredients. $ Hamilton’s Kitchen 300 E. New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-998-8089/ Named for the innovative former Rollins College president, Hamilton Holt, the warm and welcoming restaurant at the newly opened Alfond Inn boasts an early 1900s ambience, with a hearth-inspired kitchen window, exposed beams, farmer’s table and Dutch oak floors. Chef Marc Kusche puts modern spins on traditional Southern offerings using locally sourced ingredients. The fish and grits has become a local favorite. Hamilton’s is open

for breakfast, lunch, dinner and weekend brunch. See Rona’s full review on page 56 $$$ Hillstone 215 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-7404005/ Formerly known as Houston’s, this Winter Park mainstay is part of a highend chain. Still, it grows its own herbs, bakes its own bread, grinds its own meat, cuts its own fish and whips its own cream. In nice weather, guests relax with a cocktail in Adirondack chairs overlooking Lake Killarney. Many have popped the proverbial question during romantic dinners for two on the boat dock. $$-$$$ Keke’s Breakfast Café 345 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-1400/ Keke’s serves up a solid lunch, but this place is really all about breakfast, more specifically the waffles, French toast and oversized pancakes, offered with fruit, granola and chocolate chips. You may encounter a wait on weekend mornings, but be patient — it’s worth it. $ Marlow’s Tavern 1008 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-3670/ Classic American tavern fare, including an array of big and juicy burgers, served in an upscale pub environment, with exposedbrick walls, dark wood accents and leather-upholstered booths. The appetizers are wonderful, especially J.T.’s Kettle Chips with gorgonzola cheese and bacon. Outdoor seating is under a sizeable covered patio, where there’s sometimes live entertainment. $$ Park Plaza Gardens 319 S. Park Ave., 407-645-2475/ Located adjacent to the historic Park Plaza Hotel, this Winter Park institution boasts a clubby, cozy bar and sidewalk café for leisurely drinks, casual meals and unparalleled people watching. Café specialties include appetizers, soups, sandwiches, burgers and a lovely array of salads. At the rear of the building is the elegant atrium dining room, a posh, patio-style space where you are surrounded by large trees and lush vegetation beneath a soaring ceiling of glass. The food is worthy of the setting, featuring modern American entrées. Specialties of the house include beef carpaccio, filet mignon, chicken curry salad and crab-stuffed grouper. Bananas foster is a showy but delightful dessert. $$-$$$$ Scratch 223 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-3255165/ This brand-new, shabby-chic hot spot features a tapas menu that emphasizes fresh, local and seasonal ingredients. The cheese plate is an excellent starter and there you should follow up with the pork belly, which here is soy-glazed and enhanced by calamansi juice, micro cilantro, carrot puree, black rice and scallions. The lavender-cured smoked duck breast is tasty, too, but in a tapas restaurant, with its small servings, you need not limit yourself. The beverage menu includes craft beer, microbrews and fine wines. $$ 310 Park South 310 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6477277/ New American cuisine featuring fresh seafood, beef, pasta dishes, signature salads and sandwiches. Dine outside along the Avenue and enjoy daily lunch and dinner specials, a children’s menu or Sunday brunch. Steak, chicken and pasta entrées dominate the menu, but there’s also a very nice, slowly roasted half duck finished with a plum demi-glace. If you prefer to dine at home, call ahead and pick up your favorite dish. $$-$$$ Tibby’s New Orleans Kitchen 2203 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-672-5753/ If you’re looking for a quiet, intimate dining experience, this is not the place W INTE R 2 0 1 5 | W IN T ER PARK MAGAZ IN E

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DINING LISTINGS for you. Tibby’s is loud, raucous and fun, with Crescent City favorites like shrimp Creole, seafood gumbo and, for dessert, powdered beignets. Tibby’s was named for the late Walter “Tibby” Tabony, a Big Easy native and great-uncle of restaurateur Brian Wheeler, who also founded Tijuana Flats. The old man, whose colorful biography is on the menu, would certainly have approved of the shrimp and andouille cheddar grits and the hand-battered fried pickle slices, which are expertly fried and served with a rich rémoulade sauce. $-$$ Toasted 1945 Aloma Ave., Winter Park 407-960-3922/ Yes, there really is a restaurant that specializes in that most beloved childhood comfort food, the grilled-cheese sandwich. But this isn’t Velveeta on Wonder bread; the menu includes combinations of exotic cheeses, artisan breads and other unexpected additions. For example, we doubt Mom ever served a “Fig and Goat” sandwich with goat cheese, fig preserves, basil and honey. This cheesy joint also offers an assortment of burgers and salads as well as vegetarian and vegan selections. $

ASIAN Orchid Thai Cuisine 305 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407331-1400/ Enjoy authentic Thai food — with orchids (what else?) garnishing many dishes — in a primo Park Avenue location. Traditional offerings include green curry highlighted by coconut gravy infused with kaffir lime and Thai basil, ginger chicken, tom yum soup and curry puffs. For a light and refreshing dessert, try the Thai doughnuts, sweetened by a peanut-sprinkled dip of condensed milk. The cozy restaurant offers indoor and outdoor seating. $$-$$$ P.F. Chang’s China Bistro 436 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-0188/ The popular restaurant chain, with more than 200 locations in North America, offers upscale Chinese classics artfully presented, with many sauces made tableside by servers. Signature entrées include diced chicken wrapped in lettuce leaves, orange-peel beef with chili peppers and oolong sea bass. The busy Winter Park Village venue features an outdoor patio. $$ Seoul Garden 511 E. Horatio Ave., Maitland, 407-5995199/ Seoul Garden is so Asian-focused that the “About Us” section of its website is written in Korean. That authenticity extends to the food. Barbecue meats are grilled to order in the dining room. Be sure to try the marinated beef short ribs and the soft tofu stew. $$

BAKERY/CAFE Panera Bread 329 N. Park Ave., Ste. 107, and 2516 Aloma Ave., Winter Park/ On the south end of Park Avenue sits a Starbucks; on the north end a Panera holds sway. But while Starbucks is pretty much strictly a place for coffee, Panera offers bakery items and its signature fresh-and-healthy soups, salads and sandwiches. So we consider it to be as much a restaurant as a coffeehouse, as do most of its patrons. This particular location is a large space, conveniently located next to a parking garage, and offers abundant outside seating to facilitate people-watching. The Aloma location has a drive-thru window. $

BURGERS B&B Junction 2103 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-513-4134/ This counter-service establishment melds farm-to-table quality with a burgerand-fries menu. The beef is locally raised and grass-fed, most produce is from area farms and the desserts are homemade. Burgers come with creative toppings, in interesting iterations including bison and veggie, with a variety of hand-cut fries like sweet potato and portobella, and with sustainable wines and interesting beers. $ BurgerFi 538 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-2010/ This Delray Beach-based chain joins Five Guys and Burger 21 in Central Florida’s suddenly sizzling burger category. You order at the counter and a server brings your food. The burger buns, interestingly, are branded with the name of the restaurant while the burgers themselves are fashioned from grass-fed, steroid-free beef. The fries are thick cut and house made and there are some 120 beverages from which to choose, including tea, wine, soft drinks and craft beer. Frozen custard is a nice treat on a hot day. $ Shake Shack 119 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 321-2035130/ New York superchef Danny Meyer has brought his chain of ultra-indulgent hamburgers to Winter Park. Here the all-Angus burgers, crinkle-cut Yukon fries, frozen custard, shakes with mix-ins and more are served indoors and out. The patio has lounge chairs, a fire pit and a ping-pong table. After dining, stroll across the plaza to Winter Park’s newest attraction, Trader Joe’s. $


Bubbalou’s Bodacious Bar-b-que 1471 Lee Road, Winter Park, 407-628-1212/ It now has five locations, but the original Bubbalou’s is a Winter Park institution, serving up traditional pork and beef platters as well as brisket, livers and gizzards, and sides of beans, greens and mac and cheese. It’s definitely an experience best suited to the barbecue purist. $

Boca 358 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-636-7022. That so-called “cursed corner” where so many restaurants have tried and failed may finally have an occupant with some staying power. Actually, two occupants. The flagship is Boca, a farm-to-table restaurant serving dishes such as free-range chicken breast, gluten-free pasta shrimp and prime smoked meatloaf. A ‘70s-style bar called Park Social has opened in the upstairs portion and a pub concept called ABO, standing for Atlantic Bar and Oyster, has just opened in the Hidden Gardens. All are owned and operated by Tampa-based BE-1. Although they’d all just started welcoming customers at presstime, they should have any kinks worked out by now.

4 Rivers Smokehouse 1600 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-474-8377/ A diverse menu of barbecue specialties — from Texas-style brisket to pulled pork, smoked turkey and bacon-wrapped jalapenos — has gained this homegrown concept a huge following. The expanded Winter Park location also features scrumptious desserts under the banner The Sweet Shop. The Mississippi mud cake, in particular, is scrumptious. $

Luma on Park 290 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-5994111/ If there’s pancetta in your salad, the salumi was made in the kitchen, by hand, starting with a whole pig. Most herbs are from local farms, fish from sustainable sources, pickled vegetables jarred in-house and desserts built around seasonal ingredients. Luma’s progressive menu, which changes daily, is served in a sleek and stylish dining room in the



heart of Winter Park, under the passionate direction of Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery, Chef de Cuisine Derek Perez and Pastry Chef Brian Cernell. Following his recent lecture at Rollins College, Paul McCartney and his entourage dined at Luma. No word on whether or not the erstwhile Beatle is a good tipper. $$$ The Ravenous Pig 1234 N. Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-2333/ After leaving their hometown for serious culinary training, Winter Park natives James and Julie Petrakis returned to open the region’s first genuine gastropub. Dinner reservations have been tough to snag ever since. The ambitious menu changes daily based on the fish, meat and produce that’s available, and it’s executed by a dedicated team that abhors shortcuts. Besides daily specials, The Pig always serves up an excellent burger, soft pretzels, shrimp and grits and a donut-esque dessert called Pig Tails. $$-$$$$

FRENCH Café de France 526 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6471869/ Dominique Gutierrez, who’s from Vendée, on the Atlantic coast of France, greets Café de France diners as if they’re old friends. At this point, many are. Despite a kitchen staffed with chefs, she still prepares the house-made pâtés the way her mother taught her years ago. Look for classics such as garlicky escargot and au courant entrées such as panroasted salmon with a pickled onion/grapefruit/Meyer lemon preserve. $$-$$$ Café 906 906 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-9750600/ Within this nondescript freestanding building is a friendly, low-key little restaurant where French expat Vincent Vallée will brew you a cappuccino, warm up a slice of quiche Lorraine or indulge you with a peanut-butter filled lava cake — dark chocolate or white. Be sure to try the “salted” pound cake, a savory snack made with goat cheese, walnuts and raisins stirred in, or the bacon quiche, a light, fluffy delight with a delicate and flaky crust. $ Chez Vincent 533 W. New England Ave, Winter Park, 407599-2929/ Orlandoans have headed to chef Vincent Gagliano’s Hannibal Square hideaway since 1997, dressing up for formal evenings made even more special with trout in lemon-butter and pork tenderloin slathered with Dijon sauce. The intimate space has two sister enterprises: a below-ground wine cellar that hosts private meals for up to 30, and a lounge known as Hannibal’s that dishes up American and French favorites. $$-$$$ Croissant Gourmet 120 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-622-7753/ Tucked onto a side street behind simple glass walls, Croissant Gourmet is so small you might not notice it. Seek it out. Under the expert guidance of pastry chef François Cahagne, this simple spot turns out tray after tray of the region’s finest croissants and pastries. Quiches are superb here, as are the grilled croque monsieur and madame sandwiches. $ Le Macaron French Pastries 216 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 321-295-7958 / Le Macaron serves up a variety of flavors of petite pastel cookies, each made primarily with frothy meringue and ground almonds. The noshes are delicate yet filling, and come in varieties such as black currant, pistachio and chestnut-gingerchocolate. These are nothing like similarly named macaroons, made with coconut. $


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Paris Bistro 216 N. Park Ave., 407-671-4424, Winter Park/ Paris Bistro is a restaurant divided: Some seats are tucked away behind Park Avenue’s Shops on Park building, past a koi pond. The others beckon along a bustling stretch of sidewalk. Wherever you choose to indulge, you’ll find French classics (coq au vin, beef burgundy) plus a slew of daily specials (roasted rack of lamb flambéed with brandy and topped with a porcini mushroom sauce) created by chef and co-owner Sebastian Colce. $$-$$$ Frenchy’s 212 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-2232/ A humble French bakery named Sweet Traditions has evolved into a full-on Gallic café named Frenchy’s, complete with lunchtime quiches and dinnertime entrees. It’s a bustling, glitzy retreat. $-$$$

ITALIAN Al Bacio 505 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-673-3354/ Light Italian, American and LatinAmerican foods are served at the counter of this casual eatery. Coffees, breakfasts, paninis, salads and pastas are the menu’s mainstays. $ Antonio’s 611 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-645-5523/ Fine Italian fare comes in two formats at Antonio’s, proprietor Greg Gentile’s culinary homage to his ancestors. The upstairs restaurant, an elegant space with a balcony overlooking Lake Lily, is somewhat formal, although the open kitchen provides peeks of the chefs in action. Its downstairs counterpart,

Antonio’s Café, is a casual spot that doubles as a to-go, market and wine shop. It’s easy to fill up on fresh, crusty bread and olive oil, but don’t — you’ll want to leave room for such staples as salmon with lemon-herb butter, rigatoni with sausage and rosemary chicken. $-$$$ Armando’s Cucina Italiana & Pizzeria 463 New England Ave., Winter Park, 407-951-8930. Located where Hot Olives used to be in Hannibal; Square, popular Armando’s offers a fairly comprehensive menu of Italian favorites. But pizza, fired in a custom-built brick oven, is the major draw. Try the San Giovanni pie, with sautéed mushrooms, shaved mozzarella, truffle oil and, unexpectedly, fried eggs. Sometimes there’s a wait, so reservations are recommended. $ Brio Tuscan Grille 480 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-5611/ Located in Winter Park Village, Brio is a glitzy spot with Tuscan influences. Try the grilled lamb chops or the filletto di manzo toscana, an 8-ounce, center-cut filet. Lunch features paninis and sandwiches as well as lunch-sized servings of popular dinner dishes. Breads are baked fresh in an Italian oven. The ambience is upscale, but kids have their own menu. $$ Buca di Beppo 1351 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-6227663/ This national chain is owned by Orlando resident (and Planet Hollywood founder) Robert Earl, who has remade it onto a fun, kitschy place for family dining. The portions are humongous, and the food is served family-style. A standout entrée is linguine frutti di mare, a large portion of pasta served in a lasagna pan and filled with mussels, calamari, clams

and shrimp drizzled with a spiced-up red clam sauce. The pizzas are sized for two or four. $$ Francesco’s Ristorante & Pizzeria 400 S. Orlando Ave., Maitland, 407-960-5533/ Chefowner Francesco Aiello oversees this glitzy-yet-casual Italian restaurant, which churns out hand-tossed pies and full entrees in an open kitchen. Private dining room and patio seating supplement the traditional booths and tables. $-$$ Italio 276 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-960-1860/ You pretty much create your own Italian meal at this counter-service restaurant. Step up to the register and choose a base (pasta, wrap or salad) a protein and a sauce plus toppings and the staff will compile it for you. Our favorite: spaghetti with sausage and spicy prima rosa sauce. You can add in toppings and pick up a beer or wine before sitting at a communal table. $ Pannullo’s Italian Restaurant 216 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-629-7270/ Housed in one of Park Avenue’s oldest buildings, Pannullo’s has become something of a fixture itself since its 1993 debut. The menu features everything from pizza to classic pasta dishes, but you can’t go wrong with the lobster ravioli or the chicken gorgonzola. And check out the veggieheavy salad bar. $$ Prato 124 N. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-262-0050/ This is one of the region’s very best Italian restaurants, but don’t expect a classic lasagna or chicken parmigiana. Executive Chef Brandon McGlamery

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DINING LISTINGS and Chef di Cucina Matthew Cargo oversee an open kitchen in which pastas are made from scratch, pizzas are rolled to order, sausages are stuffed by hand and the olive oil is a luscious organic pour from Italy. Try the chicken liver Toscana, a satisfying salad Campagna with cubes of sizzling pancetta tesa, shrimp tortellini and citrusy rabbit cacciatore. Begin with a Negroni cocktail; it’s possibly the best around. $$-$$$ Rocco’s 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6447770/ Calabria native Rocco Potami oversees this romantic Italian eatery, where fine authentic fare is presented in an intimate dining room and on a secluded brick patio. Classics include carpaccio (raw, thinly sliced beef with white truffle oil and arugula), papardelle in wild boar sauce and a breaded veal chop topped with a lightly dressed salad. It’s easy to miss, tucked away in a Winter Park strip center, but once you find it, you’ll be back. Luckily for fans of kitschy lounge acts, Rocco’s has invited vocalist Lorna Lambey and pianist Michael Moore to perform Wednesdays through Saturdays. The duo had been entertaining at the now-defunct Red Fox Lounge. $$$ Tolla’s Italian Deli & Café 240 N. Pennsylvania Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-0068/ Chef-owner Gary Tolla cooks up authentic home-style Italian fare in this small café in a quieter part of Winter Park. The offerings range from hot subs and pizzas to antipasto and veal saltimbocca. Be sure to try the bruschetta. $$

LATIN El Bodegon Tapas & Wine 400 S. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-628-1078/ This timeless family-owned restaurant draws a loyal clientele for its authentic Spanish fare, including Valencian paellas, Galician fish dishes and, of course, a wide variety of tapas. $$-$$$ Mi Tomatina 433 W. New England Ave., Winter Park, 321972-4317/ This eatery bills itself as a paella bar, and indeed guests share a half-dozen varieties of the signature Spanish rice dish. Yet others come for a mellow meal over tapas (garlic shrimp, potato omelet, croquettes) and sangria, enjoyed while seated within a small contemporary dining room or outdoors overlooking Hannibal Square. There’s an alfresco bar in the back. $$-$$$

MEDITERRANEAN Bosphorous 108 S. Park Ave., Winter Park, 407-6448609/ This is the place for flavorful Turkish fare in either a white-tablecloth setting or alfresco along Park Avenue. Many diners fill up on the appetizer sampler with oversized lavash bread. For a heartier meal, try the ground lamb “Turkish pastry,” a shish kebab or a tender lamb shank. Outdoor diners can end their meals by smoking from a hookah. Or not. $$-$$$

MEXICAN/SOUTHWESTERN Cocina 214 151 E. Wellbourne Ave., Winter Park, 407790-7997/ The area code of Dallas is 214, so this stylish eatery’s name makes sense when you consider that its menu offers creative interpretations of traditional Tex-Mex dishes. The huevos rancheros, flanked by Mexican rice and black beans, makes an ideal brunch, with fried eggs served atop corn tortillas and topped with melted queso blanco and red rancheros sauce. Also notable: the truffle and mushroom quesa-


dilla and braised pork tacos with mango as well as pescado rico, a large serving of mahi-mahi, wilted spinach and grilled veggies in a roasted poblano cream sauce. The main dining room encompasses freestanding tables and banquettes and there’s a spacious patio where pooches are welcome. $$ PR’s Taco Palace 499 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2225/ This charmingly dumpy but iconic Winter Park eatery, located adjacent to the railroad tracks, serves up hearty portions of Tex-Mex fare including chimichangas, fajitas, tostadas and, of course, tacos. A specialty of the house is the outrageously proportioned fundido, a deep-fried flour tortilla filled with your choice of shredded or blackened chicken or beef and cream cheese. Many, many margaritas are consumed on the premises, and discounted tequila shots are offered whenever a train rumbles past. $-$$

POLISH Anna’s Polish Restaurant 3586 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-657-0020/ Enjoy Polish classics such as cabbage noodles, Cracovia chicken cutlet, beef goulash, pork schnitzel, potato pancakes and hunter’s stew with cabbage, mushrooms, beef, pork and sausage served with mashed potatoes. There’s also a delightful array of desserts and a kids’ menu. $-$$

PUBS & GRILLS Ale House 101 University Park Drive, 407-671-1011, and 1251 Lee Rd., Winter Park, 321-214-1505/millersalehouse. com. Part of the Miller’s Ale House regional chain of casual-dining restaurants, most of which are in Florida, both Winter Park locations offer daily lunch and dinner specials. Along with a huge beer selection, you’ll also find signature boneless chicken wings and “Captain Jack’s Buried Treasure,” a layered ice cream cake. $-$$ Fiddler’s Green 544 W. Fairbanks Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-2050/ This is as authentically Irish as you’ll find in Orlando, with a menu featuring bangers and mash, shepherd’s pie, hen in a pot, Irish stew and, of course, fish and chips as well as a wide selection of Irish beers. The ambience is enhanced by dark wood, cozy clutter and rowdy groups of “footballers” cheering televised matches. $$

SEAFOOD Mitchell’s Fish Market 460 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-339-3474/ A high-end seafood chain that prides itself on being “absolutely, positively obsessed with freshness,” this family-friendly restaurant also offers a gluten-free menu and special meals for kids. The outdoor lounge seating is a big draw. Signature dishes include charbroiled oysters, Maine lobster bisque and a “Mitchell’s Market Trio” of jerk tilapia, broiled salmon and Shang Hai scallops. $$-$$$ Winter Park Fish Co. 761 Orange Ave., Winter Park, 407-622-6112 / Fish and seafood dishes are fresh and well prepared at this humble Winter Park spot, where a counter-service format helps keep prices reasonable. Crab cakes, lobster rolls, mahi-mahi sandwiches and more ambitious dishes such as grouper cheeks in parchment and stuffed grouper are among a typical day’s offerings. $$

STEAK Christner’s Prime Steak & Lobster 729 Lee Rd., Orlando, 407-645-4443/

Locals have been choosing this prototypically masculine, dark-wood-and-red-leather enclave for business dinners and family celebrations for more than two decades. Family-owned since 1993, Christner’s features USDA Prime, corn-fed Midwestern beef and Australian coldwater lobster tails. End your meal with a slice of the restaurant’s legendary mandarin orange cake. And there’s a loooong wine list (6,500 bottles). On select nights, Kostya Kimlat hosts magic shows along with a prix-fixe menu in a private dining room. $$$$ Fleming’s 933 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407-6999463/ Fleming’s puts a younger spin on the stately steakhouse concept, featuring sleek décor and 100 wines by the glass along with its prime steaks and chops. The tempura lobster “small plate” with soy-ginger dipping sauce is a worthy preentrée splurge. For a taste of the old-fashioned, visit on Sunday, when prime rib is served. $$$$ Nelore Churrascaria 115 E. Lyman Ave., Winter Park, 407-645-1112/ This is one of two Nelore Brazilian all-you-can-eat steakhouses — the other one is in Houston — where the servers, or “gauchos,” come to your table as often as you’d like bearing skewers of premier beef, chicken or pork. There’s a salad and food bar and Brazilian cheese bread to keep you happy between meat courses. $$$ Outback Steakhouse 1927 Aloma Ave., Winter Park, 407-679-0500/ While parking can be a challenge at the busy strip mall where the local Outback is located, you’ll find that it was worth the hassle once you chow down. Best known for grilled steaks, chicken, seafood and those massive “blooming onions,” Outback also offers a variety of crispy salads and freshly made soups and sides. No, it isn’t a toptier steakhouse, but value-conscious carnivores won’t be disappointed. Whatever the price, however, you can’t beat the Parmesan herb-crusted chicken breast, served with a generous side of of mixed vegetables. There’s also a large selection of craft brews available and a Happy Hour menu. $$ Ruth’s Chris 610 N. Orlando Ave., Winter Park, 407622-2444/ With three old-school steakhouses and its corporate headquarters near Winter Park Village, Ruth’s Chris, a native of New Orleans, has become an Orlando special-occasion mainstay. Its service-oriented restaurants specialize in massive corn-fed Midwestern steaks served sizzling and topped with butter. Most side dishes are more than ample for two. $$$$

VEGETARIAN Café 118 153 E. Morse Blvd., Winter Park, 407-389-2233/ Raw foods — none cooked past 118 degrees — are the focus of this health-conscious niche café, which attracts raw foodists, vegans and vegetarians. The spinach and beet ravioli stuffed with cashew ricotta is an impressive imitation of the Italian staple. Thirsty Park Avenue shoppers might stop by for a healthful smoothie. $$ Ethos Vegan Kitchen 601-B South New York Ave., Winter Park 407-407-228-3898/ After serving up vegan fare for five years at its original location on North Orange Avenue, this 100 percent vegan eatery moved to Winter Park. A luncheon favorite is the chickun — yes, chickun, not chicken — bruschetta. A meatfree shepherd’s pie and crab cakes made from chickpeas are among the other meat-free offerings. $$


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events art, history, entertainment and more

Crealdé at 40: A Creator’s Legacy It’s only fitting that the opening exhibition of the Crealdé School of Art’s 40th Anniversary season showcases seldom-seen paintings by founder Bill Jenkins. More than 30 paintings, on loan from the University of Central Florida and private collections, have been assembled for the first time, revealing the artistry of Visionary Bill Jenkins: Crealdé Founder, Artist and Philanthropist. Jenkins, who moved to Winter Park following service in World War II, established Jenkins Construction Company and embraced various civic causes, including founding the not-for-profit art school in 1975. An accomplished painter himself, Jenkins trained at the Royal Academy of Fine Art in Florence, Italy, and later worked with the Veterans Administration to start a rehabilitation program that incorporated art therapy. His vividly colorful works, some of which document his travels in Europe and some of which depict rural life in the Deep South, will be shared between the Alice & William Jenkins Gallery at Crealdé’s main campus (600 St. Andrews Blvd., Winter Park) and the Hannibal Square Heritage Center (642 W. New England Ave., Winter Park). The exhibition runs through Jan. 31 at both venues, and admission is free. Call 407-671-1886 or visit for more information. w inte r 20 1 5 | WINTER PA R K MAGAZ INE

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Author and lecturer Ersula Knox-Odom portrays Mary McLeod Bethune.

ONE-WOMAN SHOW SALUTES PIONEERING EDUCATION ACTIVIST Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune, founder of Bethune-Cookman College in Daytona Beach, was a New Deal official and one of the highest-ranking women in the administration of President Franklin Delano Roosevelt. She founded the National Council of Negro Women and was president of the National Association of Colored Women. Yet, not everyone was pleased when Rollins College President Hamilton Holt tried to present this accomplished woman with an honorary doctorate in 1948. In fact, the college’s Board of Trustees forbade it. Holt finally gave Bethune her degree in 1949, the year he retired. It marked the first time that a white college in the south had ever given such an honor to an African-American. Bethune returns to Winter Park to talk about that unseemly dust-up and other aspects of her storied life and career. Well, perhaps not Bethune herself, who died in 1955, but Ersula Knox-Odom, an author and lecturer who’s also an expert on Bethune. Under the auspices of the Florida Humanities Council, Knox-Odom performs riveting one-woman shows as the pioneering educator and civil rights leader. That show, Dr. Mary McLeod Bethune Comes to Life, will be held in the sanctuary of the First Congregational Church of Winter Park on Sunday, Feb. 22, at 3:30 p.m. Admission is free, but a $5 donation is suggested. Proceeds will benefit the Jeremiah Project, the church’s arts outreach program for at-risk youth. The event is part of the church’s ongoing Lecture Series and is being held in conjunction with Black History Month and the 61st anniversary of Brown vs. the Board of Education. To make reservations, call the church at 407-647-2416.


The Albin Polasek Museum & Sculpture Gardens. Although the museum is dedicated to preserving the works of the famed Czech sculptor, it also stages frequent exhibits from internationally renowned artists working in all mediums. Running through April 12 is Large Birds of Florida: The Art of John Costin, paintings and copperplate etchings showcasing the state’s diverse bird life. Also included are original Audubon prints from Costin’s personal collection. On Jan. 29 from 7-8 p.m., the artist will present a lecture during which he’ll discuss and demonstrate his etching techniques. The lecture will be followed by a personally guided gallery tour. There is no additional charge, but preregistration is required. The second of three concerts in the museum’s Chamber Garden Series, held in the elegant Grand Salon of the Polasek residence, is Feb. 1 at 2 p.m. and features Kenneth Kuo on the cello. The final concert is March 29, and features Johnny Pherigo on the French horn. Cost is $30 per concert for members; $35 per concert for non-members. Each concert is followed by a private reception, and seatng is limited to 50. Regular admission to the museum is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $3 for students and free for children. 633 Osceola Ave. 407-647-6294. Art & History Museums-Maitland. The Maitland Art Center at 231 W. Packwood Ave., one of five museums that anchor the city’s Cultural Corridor, was founded as an art colony in 1937 by visionary American artist and architect André Smith. The center, which offers exhibits and classes, is one of the few surviving examples of Mayan Revival architecture in the Southeast and is listed on the National Register of Historic Places. It has recently been named a National Historic Landmark, one of only 2,500 in the U.S. (see page 26). Running Jan. 5-Feb. 22 is Art and the Subconscious: Salvador Dali and André Smith. The exhibition pairs Smith’s works with those of Dali, one of the most prolific surrealists of the 20th century. Monthly events include Family Days at the Museum, held the third Saturday of each month at 1 p.m.; Artists’ Critique and Conversation, held the fourth Tuesday of each month at 6 p.m.; and Ladies’ Art Lounge, held the first Friday of each month at 7:30 p.m. Additional components of the complex include the Maitland Historical Museum and the Telephone Musuem, both located at 221 W. Packwood Ave. The Historical Museum’s permanent exhibit, Maitland Legacies: Creativity and Innovation, uses archival photographs, artifacts and documents to commemorate the city’s founding families and earliest institutions. Running Jan. 8-May 10 is America’s Exceptional Heritage: National Historic Landmarks. Celebrating the Maitland Art Center’s designation, the exhibition spotllights a selection of other places that have been granted landmark status. The fourth and fifth components of the complex are the Waterhouse Residence Museum and the Carpentry Shop Museum, both located at 820 Lake Lily Drive. The house and the adjacent workshop were built in the 1880s by a pioneering Maitland family. 407-539-2181. Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum: The stunningly restored Spanish farmhouse-style home, designed by acclaimed architect James Gamble Rogers II and now a community center and museum, is presenting There’s No Place Like Home: Art Inspired by Winter Park’s Historic Architecture, which will run Jan. 8-18. The juried exhibition, open to artists in all mediums, is designed to celebrate Winter Park’s architecture — past and present — and to spur discussion about the importance of historic preservation. Ena Heller, the Bruce A. Beal Director of the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, will serve as judge. There’ll be three cash prizes as well as a People’s Choice award. On Saturday, Jan. 10, a community celebration will be held at

the facility from 1-3 p.m. Enjoy refreshments, storytelling, music and children’s activities related to the show’s theme. Artists will also be on hand to discuss their work. Admission to the exhibit and the celebration is free. 656 N. Park Ave. (adjacent to the Winter Park Country Club golf course). 407-628-8200. Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Located on the campus of Rollins College, the museum houses one of the oldest and most eclectic collections in Florida. Running Jan.17April 5 are three concurrent exhibits. Tobi Kahn: Reverie, showcases the artist’s work in paint, stone and bronze. His more recent pieces reflect his fascination with micro-images of cell formations and satellite photography. Kara Walker: Harper’s Pictorial History of the Civil War (Annotated) includes 15 large-scale prints that incorporate illustrations from an 1866 publication produced by Harper’s Weekly. Walker overlays silhouette figures on the illustrations to create distinctive works that encourage historical reexamination. To complement the presentation, a few Civil War illustrations by Winslow Homer from the Cornell’s permanent collection will also be on view. Peter Schreyer: Returning Home focuses on the artist’s recent photography in Switzerland, in particular images of people and places in the village where he was born. The exhibit provides an opportunity to discuss the significance of place, and fosters cultural exchange. Schreyer is executive director of the Crealdé School of Art. Also check out First Fridays, held the first Friday of each month from 4-8 p.m., and the Fourth Friday Lecture Series, held the fourth Friday of each month at 11 a.m. An ongoing program is Conversations: Selections from the Permanent Collection, which aims to inspire dialogue about art created during disparate time periods and among various cultures. Works are grouped under four broad thematic categories: Religion Redefined, Gesture and Pose, A Sense of Place and History and Myth. Courtesy of Bessemer Trust, admission remains free throughout 2015. 407-646-2526. Crealdé School of Art. Established in 1975, this not-forprofit arts organization offers year-round visual arts classes for all ages taught by more than 40 working artists. There are ongoing exhibits in the William and Alice Jenkins Gallery and the Showalter Hughes Community Gallery. Running through Jan. 31 is Visionary Bill Jenkins: Crealdé Founder, Artist and Philanthropist, which showcases paintings by the center’s creator, a successful builder who was trained as a fine artist (see page 65). Admission to the galleries is free, although there are fees for art classes. 600 St. Andrews Blvd. 407-671-1886. Hannibal Square Heritage Center. Established in 2007 by the Crealdé School of Art in partnership with residents of Hannibal Square and the City of Winter Park, the center celebrates the city’s historically AfricanAmerican west side with archival photographs, original artwork and oral histories from longtime residents. Admission is free. 642 W. New England Ave. 407-5392680. Charles Hosmer Morse Museum of American Art. The museum houses the world’s most extensive collection of Louis Comfort Tiffany creations, including jewelry, pottery, paintings, art glass and the entire chapel interior originally designed and built for the 1893 World’s Columbian Exposition in Chicago. Currently on display is The Wreck, an 1880 oil painting by American artist and decorator Lockwood de Forest, which depicts five Bedouins riding their camels across the desert with the skeletal remains of a camel in the foreground. The 36-by48-inch Orientalist work is on view for the first time following extensive conservation. The exhibit includes

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EVENTS other de Forest oil studies from the museum’s collection and is supplemented by photos and essays aimed at helping viewers develop a full appreciation of the painting’s creation, context and symbolism. Ongoing exhibits include Revival and Reform: Eclecticism in the 19th-Century Environment. The centerpiece of this two-gallery showcase from the museum’s collection is The Arts, a neoclassical window created by J. & R. Lamb Studios, a prominent American glasshouse of the late 19th century. It’s displayed with almost 20 additional leaded-glass windows and selections of art glass, pottery and furniture of the period. Opening Feb. 10 is The Bride Elect: Gifts from the 1905 Wedding of Elizabeth Owens Morse. The exhibit showcases the original gift registry and some of the 250 gifts presented to the daugher of Charles Hosmer Morse and Martha Owens Morse by her wealthy friends. Morse’s marriage to Richard Genius was a social event of significance in Chicago, and the gifts reflect the stature of the Morse family. Among the surviving items are Tiffany art glass, Rookwood pottery and Gorham silver. Opening Feb. 15 is Selections from the Harry C. Sigman Collection of European and American Decorative Art, which showcases the collector’s recent gift to the museum of 86 European and American objects of decorative art, including art glass, pottery, metalwork and furniture. Curator Tours of the Tiffany wing galleries are held on Tuesdays from 11-11:45 a.m. and 2:30-3:15 p.m. Admission is $5 for adults, $4 for seniors, $1 for students and free for children younger than 12. 445 N. Park Ave. 407-645-5311.

PERFORMING ARTS Winter Park Playhouse. Winter Park’s only professional, not-for-profit theater (see page 12) continues its


season with The Rat Pack Lounge (Jan. 16-Feb. 14); A Day in Hollywood/A Night in the Ukraine (March 6-28); and Putting It Together (April 17-May 9). 711 Orange Ave. 407645-0145. Annie Russell Theater. “The Annie” continues its season with Sophie Treadwell’s Machinal (Feb.13-21), a circa-1920s expressionist drama that was nominated for four Tony Awards following its 2014 Broadway revival. Then the curtain rises on the Frank Loesser musical Guys and Dolls (April 17-25), the eternally entertaining gangster classic that includes such evergreen songs as “Luck Be a Lady and “Sit Down You’re Rocking the Boat.” Showtimes vary. Students, faculty and staff are admitted free. Tickets for the general public are $20. The Second Stage Series at the Fred Stone Theater, which features student-produced and student-directed plays, continues with Time Stands Still (Feb. 4-8) and T.I.C.: Trenchcoat in Common (April 8-12). Second Stage shows are free to the public, and seating is first-come, first served. 407-646-2145.

FESTIVALS Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival. If it’s March, it’s got to be time for the granddaddy of all art festivals in the region. The Winter Park Sidewalk Art Festival, this year slated for March 20-22, routinely attracts more than 350,000 people and features the work of approximately 275 artists in every genre imaginable. Categories include painting, drawing, graphics, clay, fiber, leather, wood, photography, metal, jewelry, sculpture, glass and various combinations thereof. The three-day event, which encompasses most of Park Avenue and Central Park, also features live entertainment, food, student artwork and a children’s workshop. Admission is free. 407-672-6390.

FILM Enzian Film Series. This cozy alternative cinema offers several film series: Wednesday Night Pitcher Show (first and third Wednesdays at 7:30 p.m., free admission plus happy hour refreshments); Cult Classics (second and last Tuesdays at 9:30 p.m., $5 admission); and Saturday Matinee Classics (second Saturdays at noon, free admission). 1300 S. Orlando Ave. 407-629-0054. Popcorn Flicks in the Park. The City of Winter Park and Enzian collaborate to offer free classic films for the whole family in Central Park. Popcorn Flicks are usually held on the second Thursday of each month, and start around 7 p.m. Bring a blanket and a snack. Coming up are 1944’s To Have and Have Not with Humphrey Bogart and Lauren Bacall (Jan. 8); 1940’s The Philadelphia Story with Katharine Hepburn, Cary Grant and Jimmy Stewart (Feb. 12); and 1972’s The Poseidon Adventure with Gene Hackman, Ernest Borgnine and Shelley Winters. 407629-1088.

HISTORY Winter Park History Museum. With last year’s opening of a new SunRail station in Central Park, the museum takes a timely look at railroading history with A Whistle in the Distance: The Trains of Winter Park. This fascinating multimedia exhibit traces the role of railroads in Winter Park’s growth and development. Ongoing displays include artifacts dating from the city’s founding as a New England-style resort in the 1880s. Admission is free. 200 W. New England Ave. 407-644-2330. The Holocaust Memorial Resource & Education Center of Florida. The center is dedicated to combating anti-

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EVENTS Semitism, racism and prejudice with the goal of developing a moral and just community through educational and cultural programs. It houses permanent and temporary exhibit space, archives and a research library. Running Jan. 5-March 1 is Three Themes from Herblock, featuring political cartoons by the legendary Herbert Block, who signed his name as “Herblock.” The cartoons deal with civil rights, improved education and broadening the scope of democracy. Admission to exhibits, programs and films is free. 851 N. Maitland Ave. 407-628-0555. Zora Neale Hurston National Museum of Fine Arts. Eatonville, arguably the first municipality in the U.S. formed by African-Americans, is strongly associated with Harlem Renaissance writer and folklorist Zora Neale Hurston, who lived there as a girl and recorded her childhood memories in her classic autobiography, Dust Tracks on a Road. The museum that bears her name provides information on the historic city and sponsors quarterly exhibitions featuring the works of AfricanAmerican artists. Eatonville’s Zora Neale Hurston Trail encompasses 16 historic sites and 10 markers; a walking/driving tour brochure is available at the museum. There is no admission charge, although donations are accepted. For group tours, there is a fee and reservations are required. 227 East Kennedy Blvd., Eatonville. 407-647-3307.

LECTURES Winter Park Institute. The institute, affiliated with Rollins College, presents lectures, readings and seminars by thought leaders in an array of disciplines. Upcoming programs include Andrew Young: A Continuing Legacy, featuring the former U.S. ambassador to the United Nations discussing the Civil Rights Act on its 50th anniversary (Jan. 20, 7:30 p.m., Knowles Memorial Chapel); Maya Lin: A History of Water, featuring the designer of the Vietnam Veterans Memorial discussing biodiversity and habitat loss (Jan. 29, 7 p.m., Orlando Museum of Art); and two programs with rock icon Roger McGuinn, former lead singer of The Byrds: How Folk Music Got Me to the Rock ‘n’ Roll Hall of Fame (March 26, 7 p.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall); and The McGuinn Legacy: Questions and Answers (March 27, 11 a.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall). The final program of the season is An Evening with Eric Spiegel, featuring the president and CEO of Siemans USA offering his perspectives on global issues (March 19, 7 p.m., Tiedtke Concert Hall). All programs are free and open to the public. No tickets are required. Parking is available in the SunTrust parking garage, 166 E. Lyman Ave. 407-6911995. GladdeningLight Symposium. New York Times bestselling author Barbara Brown Taylor will be among the presenters at the annual three-day event, slated Jan. 29Feb. 1. Taylor, a religion professor at Piedmont College, was the subject of a Time magazine cover story and was selected by the magazine as one of its 100 Most Influential People. Also scheduled is sculptor and painter Tobi Kahan, whose work will be on display at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum, and Owen and Moley Ó Súilleabháin, a cappella folksingers from Ireland. Venues will include All Saints Episcopal Church, Rollins College and Casa Feliz. All events at Rollins are free while the Taylor lectures are $25. An all-events package, which includes an intimate dinner with the participants, is $299. 407-6473963.

MARKETS Food Truck Fiesta. This family-friendly event, which takes place the fourth Saturday of each month, features live music and delicious food. Pets are welcome. Noon-5 p.m. Lake Baldwin Park, 2000 S. Lakemont Ave. 407-2965882.


Maitland Farmers Market. This year-round, open-air market features fresh produce, seafood, breads and cheeses along with plants, all-natural skin-care products and live music provided by the Performing Arts of Maitland. The setting on Lake Lily boasts a serene boardwalk, jogging trails and a playground as well as picnic areas. 701 Lake Lily Drive. Winter Park Farmers Market. The region’s busiest and arguably most popular farmers market is held every Saturday, 7 a.m.-1 p.m. at the old railroad depot that houses the Winter Park History Museum. There you’ll find fine baked goods, produce, plants, honey, cheese, meat, flowers, crafts and other specialty items for sale. After shopping, make a morning of it with a stroll along nearby Park Avenue. Dogs are welcome to bring their people. 200 W. New England Ave.

MUSIC Music at the Casa. The Casa Feliz Historic Home Museum regularly presents Sunday afternoon acoustic performances in an intimate setting. On Feb. 15, Shawn Garvey brings his guitar and a setlist packed with folkrock tunes, some covers and some originals. Garvey, who’s senior minister at First Congregational Church of Winter Park, is also an accomplished musician and has performed John Denver tribute shows with members of Denver’s touring band. He’ll be playing from noon-3 p.m., and admission is free. 656 N. Park Ave. (adjacent to the Winter Park Country Club golf course). 407-6288200. 80th Annual Bach Festival. The Bach Festival Society of Winter Park began its landmark 80th season in the fall with its usual array of events, including a Visiting Artist Series and a Choral Masterworks Series leading up to the festival itself in February. Upcoming presentations include a concert by Grammy Award-winning organist Paul Jacobs (Feb. 13, 7:30 p.m.) followed by Concertos by Candlelight: Mendelssohn, Beethoven and Mozart (Feb. 20-21, 7:30 p.m.). The program will include Mendelssohn’s Violin Concerto in E Minor, Op. 64, featuring violinist Nadja Salerno-Sonnenberg; Beethoven’s Choral Fantasy in C Minor, Op. 80, featuring pianist Gloria Cook with the Bach Festival Choir; and Mozart’s Clarinet Concerto in A Major, K622, featuring William R. Hudgins, principal clarinetist of the Boston Symphony Orchestra. Up next is Brahms and Beethoven (Feb. 28, 7:30 p.m.) The program will include Brahms’ Ein Deutsches Requiem, Op. 45; and Beethoven’s Symphony No. 7 in A Major, Op. 92. Finally, a bit of local history will be re-created with J.S. Bach’s Mass in B Minor (March 1, 3 p.m.). The work was first performed by the Bach Festival Choir in 1940, marking its debut south of the Mason-Dixon Line. All performances are in Knowles Memorial Chapel on the campus of Rollins College. Ticket prices vary. 407-6462182. Valentine Concert in Central Park. The Winter Park Chamber of Commerce and the Park Avenue Merchants Association host an afternoon of romance in Central Park featuring the sounds of Michael Andrew and Swingerhead. Sunday, Feb. 8, 4 p.m. Bring a blanket, a picnic basket and someone special for this pre-Valentine’s Day celebration. Free, and valet parking is available. 407-644-8281.

SALES Park Avenue Sidewalk Sale. Participating merchants along Park Avenue and its equally intriguing side streets will host a sidewalk sale Jan. 9-11. Shop early for savings ranging from 50-75 percent.

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EVENTS Winter Park Sip & Stroll. Enjoy a stroll along Park Avenue and discover new shops and restaurants while sipping wine and knoshing hors d’oeuvres. Thursday, Feb. 5, 5-8 p.m. $25 each, and your ticket purchase includes a souvenir wine glass. 407-644-8281. Chili for Charity. The Rotary Club of Winter Park presents this spicy (or not spicy, if you prefer) annual event, which features chili from local restaurants and caterers along with entertainment by the Papa Jack Express. Drinks, dessert and a live auction round out the evening. Net proceeds benefit the Rotary Club of Winter Park Foundation, which annually provides grants to more than 30 local charities. Wednesday, Feb. 25, 5:30-8 p.m. at the Winter Park Farmers Market, 200 W. New England Ave. Tickets are $25 in advance, $30 at the door. Ten-ticket packages are $225. Patron packages, which include four tickets and program recognition, are $125. 407-716-1067. Hannibal Square Wine Tasting. West New England Avenue between Virginia and Pennsylvania avenues will be blocked off for this annual celebration of fine wine, slated for Thursday, March 19, beginning at 5 p.m. The street party will feature more than 40 varieties of wine and beer plus appetizers from local eateries and live music. $25 in advance, $30 at the door.

BUSINESS State of the City Luncheon. Winter Park Mayor Ken Bradley’s annual State of the City address takes a look back at 2014 and a look ahead to 2015. Friday, Jan. 16, 11:30 a.m. at the Alfond Inn, 300 E. New England Ave. Sponsored by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce. Tickets are $35 for members, $40 for non-members; corporate tables of eight are $275. 407-644-8281. Business After Hours. Winter Park Chamber of Commerce members, local business owners and community leaders gather to network in a casual atmosphere. Events are typically held the third Thursday of the month. Appetizers and beverages are served. Upcoming dates and locations include Feb. 19, hosted by Orlando Health at the Winter Park Farmer’s Market; and May 21, at the Cornell Fine Arts Museum. Hours are 5:30-7:30 p.m. and admission is $5 for members, $15 for non-members. 407-644-8281. Good Morning Winter Park. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly gatherings attract chamber members, local residents and community leaders who enjoy coffee and conversation regarding an array of community issues. Programs are typically held the second Friday of each month. Upcoming dates include Jan. 9, Feb. 13, March 13, April 10 and May 8. Networking begins at 7:45 a.m. and the program begins at 8:15 a.m. Admission is free, and a complimentary continental breakfast is served. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-644-8281. Winter Park Executive Women. Hosted by the Winter Park Chamber of Commerce, these monthly lunchtime gatherings feature networking opportunities for women business owners and guest speakers who addresses topics related to leadership development, business growth and local initiatives of special interest to women. Events are held the first Monday of most months at the city’s Welcome Center. Upcoming dates include Jan. 12, Feb. 2, March 2, April 6 and May 4, with speakers to be announced. Registration begins at 11:30 a.m. with lunch and program at noon. Admission is $20 for members, $25 for non-members; reservations required. Winter Park Welcome Center, 151 W. Lyman Ave. 407-644-8281.

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merica has the greatest shopping in the world — and the reason is simple: Show us a new idea and a little advertising and we’ll buy things we never imagined we needed. This winter, we all deserve to buy more after some tough economic times. Florida residents and tens of millions of tourists are expected to increase retail spending in the Sunshine State above the national average. Stores and restaurants are everywhere. Just look around at the superabundance of clothiers, techno emporiums and Cinnabon shops at our malls and in our shopping districts. Americans have always been retail pioneers. For example, we had Alfred Carl Fuller (OK, he was Canadian). Alfred was the original Fuller Brush Man. Likewise, Barry Becher helped create the “amazing” Ginsu knife (“Call now! Operators are standing by!”) Becher would later say that Ginsu means, “I never have to work again.” And where else but in America would the military — yes, the military — invent a limitless retail universe? That would be the Internet, of course, which recently allowed me to surf the tsunami of sales on Cyber Monday and shop until I dropped — into my La-Z-Boy recliner. Some, though, remain unsold, so to speak. Humorist Art Buchwald said, “the best things in life aren’t things.” Perhaps not. But some “things” are pretty nice. Back-to-basics living has always had its champions. In this country the Shakers, Mennonites, Amish and some Quakers preach austerity. Henry David Thoreau, an American naturalist and philosopher, penned the classic secular statement advocating the simple life in his book Walden. But Thoreau lasted only two years living, Spartan-like, in a cabin near Walden Pond. He built the tiny getaway for $28.12 (in 1840s dollars) on land owned by his friend, Ralph Waldo Emerson, who supported his young protégé’s idealism but wisely preferred to remain ensconced in his comfortable Concord home.


Obviously, Henry David Thoreau had it all wrong.

Thoreau’s Transcendentalist cohorts, led by the eccentric Bronson Alcott, took the concept further with the founding of Fruitlands, a utopian commune where everyone wore linen tunics, ate no animal products, bathed in icy water and attempted to become self-sufficient through farming, although none of the 14 residents had ever worked on a farm. Fruitlands, not surprisingly, lasted all of seven months. (Alcott’s much-more-famous daughter, Louisa May, later wrote of the ill-fated experiment in Transcendental Wild Oats.) I bought my first “cabin” right out of law school. It was a walkup garden condominium, where my wife and I began our married life. We traded that walkup for a townhouse, and then for the home where we raised our children. And I’m not through buying. Listen, I want — no, I need — a Caribbean vacation and another kitchen rehab. Let’s face it. The world has changed since Tho-

reau’s time, when only the truly wealthy could enjoy genuinely luxurious lifestyles. First and foremost, we can buy anything we want if we’re willing to squeeze enough money out of our retirement funds to pay for it. Why worry about overspending if we never plan to retire? Second, living the simple life can cause severe status anxiety. Are we willing to be diminished in the world’s eyes by wearing the wrong clothes or driving the wrong car? I think not. Finally, the simple life just doesn’t work for America anymore. When industrialization democratized luxury, it also created in shoppers a limitless desire for new possessions and more experiences. In fact, economists tell us that our consumerist path to fulfillment now drives our economy. So, let’s understand. If we stop buying tchotchkes, we’ll be repudiating our way of life and contributing to another financial collapse. I will certainly do my patriotic duty and buy, buy, buy. In fact, that new home down the street with free granite countertops looks like a good place to start. Thoreau might not approve. But after a few minutes in the Jacuzzi, I’ll bet he’d change his mind. Jim DeSimone is a principal at Orlando-based Knob Hill Companies and is a founding partner of Winter Park Magazine. He was previously vice president of corporate affairs for Darden Restaurants, director of communication for the City of Orlando and a reporter and communications counsel for the Orlando Sentinel. He has a master’s degree in business administration from the University of Florida, a masters degree in public affairs reporting from the University of Maryland College Park and a J.D. from the College of William and Mary.


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ARTISTIC INSPIRATION... [ near the heart of winter park ]

Rae DelFosse cherishes proximity to culture and family The active pursuit of a creative lifestyle is an important reason Rae DelFosse chose The Mayflower. Here, the former teacher can further explore her artistic interests in a resort-like setting close to Winter Park’s world-class museums and galleries. 1620 Mayflower Court Winter Park, FL 32792

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With family in New Smyrna Beach, Clermont and Windermere, Rae also enjoys The Mayflower’s Winter Park location. “I’m just a short drive away from everyone I care about,” she says, “and I have access to everything I need.”

What’s your plan for the future? Call today, and let’s talk about it: 407.672.1620.

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“The pace of life is perfect for me,” she says. “When I visited The Mayflower, I fell in love with everything about this place: the layout, the grounds, the Fitness Center and pool … it’s even right next door to the Crealdé School of Art!”

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