If you are like me who is not familiar with the Audubon Park Garden District in Orlando, Florida, you would have driven past the building and missed this culinary gem. I have heard a lot about the East End Market - from local buzzes to national cooking shows and celebrity chefs' visits and recommendations. So finally, I decided to meet up with my friend, John Rife, founder and owner of East End Market to experience it in person.
John gave me the "grand tour". From the sunflower garden, urban farm, and the courtyard outside, to the local eateries and shops inside, to the incubator kitchen located at the back of the first floor, and to the pop-up event space on the second floor. Whew... I am exhausted just trying to take them all in. People are friendly and the place gives you a good vibe.
Talking to John, East End Market is an idea that evolved during his many years of real estate business, local festival event hosting, and his passion for local, sustainable, and slow food movement. John took an abandoned church built in 1962, gut it totally, and gave it a new life. He created this community food hub so entrepreneurs, trade people, artists, and chefs can co-locate, collaborate, and co-innovate. What a concept!
During this visit I only have time to enjoy the company of my friend under the warm Florida sun and welcoming spring breeze; plus visited two shops to buy some artisan bread and Italian savory and sweet goodies to take home. On my next visit, I plan to try some imported cheese and fresh juices or yogurt. I should also try out some of the classes they host there to fuel my brain. Then I need to make a reservation three months in advance in order to try out the seven-seat Japanese restaurant. As I continue to explore and experience the East End Market in Orlando, Florida, I will share them here.
Photo by East End Market