Cows N Cabs Brings Together Top Culinary Talent for Evening of Food, Fun and Charity!
Disclosure: I was an invited media guest of Cows N’ Cabs for purposes of sharing the experience with you. No other form of compensation was received and all opinions are my own. As always, I only share with you experiences I love, to inspire you to #MakeSomedayHappen one delicious bite, sip and trip at a time.
Cows N’ Cabs is one of the premier foodie events in Orlando, and one of my personal favorites. Established in 2012 by John Rivers, Founder/CEO of 4R Restaurant Group, and Dave Larue, Vice President of ABC Fine Wine & Spirits, the annual western themed charity event is a “party with a purpose” that keeps getting better and better. Here’s a full recap from 2018 so you can see why you can’t miss it in 2019.
In one night, you get to enjoy the best of Orlando’s food scene! Dance and sing along with talented musicians and bid on hundreds of silent auction items every foodie wants. Put on your cowboy hats and boots, if you wish. However, loose fitting comfy clothes are highly recommended for this all you can eat and plenty to drink extravaganza. And, the best part is that it’s for a good cause.
Over the last seven years, Cows ‘n Cabs has donated more than $800,000 to local charities.
100% of the event proceeds benefit charities supporting children in Central Florida including After School All Stars and Elevate Orlando.
Why do foodies love Cows N Cabs?
If you want to know why Cows N’ Cabs is one of Central Florida’s most anticipated culinary events for every foodie in town, and one of my favorite “Must Do” events in Orlando, just take a look at the photos below. Guaranteed you’ll be drooling.
The event occurs every autumn under a giant tent in Winter Park’s West Meadow. Enjoy the tease of the Fall breeze as you walk around from station to station, chat with the chefs and indulge in signature bites paired with a variety of wines, craft beers and cocktails.
Cows N Cabs Keeps Getting Bigger and Better!
Each year, the event grows in both attendance (it’s gone from 300 to 1,000 guests) and now features over 30 popular restaurants, including James Beard Award-nominated chefs.
This is one of the things I love most about Orlando’s culinary scene on display at Cows N Cabs. These talented award winning chefs and restaurant owners are cooking and serving in a tent on a Saturday night instead of working at their busy restaurants. All to support great charities and each other.
Morimoto Asia Chef Yuhi Fujinaga always brings up a fun Pan-Asian fusion like Asian BBQ beef tacos. I hear this year he’s bringing Japanese A5 wagyu beef pho. I can’t wait!
The participation of such talented culinarians is a testament to the man in charge, John Rivers, whose popular 4Rivers Smokehouse restaurant got its start as a way to raise funds for a young girl with cancer. John is one of the nicest guys in the industry and everyone is happy to show up to support. 4R Smokehouse celebrated its 10th anniversary on October 26, 2019 and the day has been proclaimed “4Rivers Day” by Winter Park Mayor Steve Leary.
You Won’t Be Thirsty at Cows N Cabs!
With ABC Liquor as one of the presenting sponsors and various top beverage companies as supporting sponsors, if you’re thirsty you don’t have to walk far. You’ll find a great selection of wines (ahem the event is called Cows N Cabs!), plenty of bubbles, beer and cocktails.
It wouldn’t be a true Southern party without Cheerwine. The North Carolina effervescent cherry soda has been around since 1917 and is a popular table at Cows N Cabs. Get it mixed with Maker’s Mark or on its own.
Wine and Bubbles Flow at Cows N Cabs!
Wine Lovers are well taken care of. Practically every table serves up a wine pairing so you can be sure to find ones you like. Charles Krug Wines brought the reds and the whites.
The Charles Krug Purple Heart Red Blend from Sonoma County was my favorite.
If you love bubbles, like me, the station featuring Champagne Taittinger was a popular stop.
Veuve Clicquot Rose Cocktails may have been my favorite thirst quenchers. Topped with grapefruit wedges, they were the girly drinks of the night.
Vodka, Rum, Whiskey and Bourbon, take your pick!
Vodka Lovers have no fear, you’ll be well taken care of. The Grey Goose bar had a long line all night in 2018. Tito’s Vodka will be sponsoring in 2019.
How about a Rum Drink? Bumbu Rum was a fine sipper from Barbados. Barcardi is joining the line up in 2019.
The Polite Pig served their superb Barrel Aged Manhattan. Jim Beam and Jameson will also be on hand.
Cows N Cabs Got Sake?
Morimoto Asia brought their own! Iron Chef Masaharu Morimoto serves his own proprietary line of sakes exclusively at the Disney Springs restaurant. The Nigori Sparkling was a fun sipper.
For those in need of a caffeine fix, there were boozy options like Grey Goose La Vanille Espresso Martini.
For the non-boozy option, local favorite Foxtail Coffee is in the house! (i.e. the tent) Pair it with lovely cakes to end your night on the perfect note.
We Need To Talk About The Food at Cows N Cabs!
Of course, the food is the top reason why foodies love Cows N Cabs. With 30+ food stations, I tried to sample everything last year but just couldn’t. There was so much food. My only advice is: pace yourself. And get an extra set of hands to help you juggle all the drinks and plates.
Check out what we sampled in 2018 to give you an idea of what to expect for 2019:
4R Restaurant Group is Southern Goodness at Cows N Cabs!
Chef John Rivers always presents a delicious selection from his 4R Restaurant Group. Carved smoked meats and even a whole roasted pig was served in the VIP area from 4 Rivers Smokehouse. Crispy chicken sandwiches from The COOP are always fun Southern goodness.
In 2018, the hit of the night was the Taco Cone from the new 4R Cantina food truck, which is usually permanently parked at Disney Springs.
Where’s The Beef?
Soco Thornton Park Chef Greg Richie is known for his contemporary southern food. His Southern Style BBQ Grilled Kalbi Beef with pickled cabbage slaw was a perfect mix of bold flavors.
Chef James Petrakis of The Polite Pig served porcini crusted smoked prime rib slider with persimmon BBQ and pumpkin radicchio slaw.
Pork Belly is always tasty from Tapa Toro Chef Frank Galeano. His Pork Belly Matambre was a hunger killer!
Terralina Italian carved up their popular house-made porchetta of pork belly and pork loin with apple mostarda chutney.
It’s Not All Beef. There’s Seafood Too!
Reel Fish Coastal Kitchen served grilled wild caught Key West pink shrimp sauteed in Knob Creek whiskey infused cream sauce on sourdough bread. You can call them “drunk” and tasty!
Chef Brandon McGlamery of Luke’s Kitchen and Bar brought not one but two signature bites for us to devour. Shrimp and Snapper Ceviche with cucumber gazpacho and Brussels Sprouts with Persimmon Chestnut Granola.
Pizza Bruno’s Octo & Tots disappeared quickly. The popular appetizer with charred braised octopus, fingerling potatoes and garlic aioli always brings lots of smiles.
Todd English’s Bluezoo Chef Jason Wiggin served a beautiful plate of Yellowfin Tuna Tartare with crispy tempura rice, miso caviar, lotus root, scallion cream and nitro sriracha aioli.
Orlando Loves Tacos!
If you’re like most Orlando foodies, you love tacos. You’ll be happy to know there were several tasty tacos to choose from at Cows N Cabs.
STK Chef Jonathan Fahey served up hearty Short Rib Tacos with brussels slaw, Korean BBQ sauce, pumpkin kimchi and black garlic maple crema. It had all the autumn notes.
Hawker’s Asian Street Fare Chef Kariloly Arias served Bulgogi Beef Taco with garlic ginger, house kimchi, jicama and chili sauce.
I’m thrilled to hear Hunger Street Tacos owner / chef Joseph Creech is coming back in 2019. His “La Gringa” Quesadilla al pastor with pineapple, jalapeno cream was a crowd favorite.
I wouldn’t expect anything less from this Mexican cuisine local favorite.
Asian BBQ Beef Tacos and Lettuce Wraps from Morimoto Asia.
Jason and Sue Chin of Chin Restaurant Group brought Reyes Mezcaleria and chef Wendy Lopez to die for carnitas tacos in 2018. In 2019, they will bring specialties from Seito Sushi in Baldwin Park.
Everyone Loves Pizza!
Especially when it’s hot and fresh from the oven Pizza Bruno by Chef Bruno Zacchini. The Margarita Pizza topped with fresh mozzarella, pecorino, tomato sauce, basil and EVOO is a classic!
Pickles and Saltines are a must in any Southern Affair!
Chef Kathleen Blake elevates anything she puts her hands on with the right touch of Southern flair. She served Smoked Florida Mullet with pickled vegetables and fried saltine crackers. Who knew fried saltine crackers would be this good?
I laughed when she said “was I supposed to serve beef?” Kathleen can truly can serve whatever she wants. I will miss her at this year’s event. Who knew fried saltines were a thing? She even brought homemade mints, because as a true mom she said “If you’re on a date, you’re going to need some mints after all this rich food”
The True Foodie Test of The Night.
Last year, 1921 Mount Dora Chef Camilo Velasco served up one of the two most interesting dishes of the night: St. John River “Nashville Hot Frogs Legs” with Fresno chile honey and bread and butter pickles. It was absolutely delicious, and no it didn’t taste “just like chicken”.
It was the true “foodie” sorting hat test of the evening. You either went for it or you didn’t. I had the most fun watching the reactions. Those with the horrified look who turned away (foodie fail) and the ones whose eyes lit up with glee at the chance to try the unique bite (foodie win!)
I’m looking forward to seeing what the talented new 1921 Chef Josh Oakley will serve up this year.
The Ravenous Pig Chef James Petrakis, Chef Julie Petrakis and Chef Nick Sierputowski served the second most “foodie” dish of the night. crispy oysters topped with steak tartare. A winning bite that is now on their menu!
Surprised By Plant Based Deliciousness!
I’m going to be straight here. This is not an event for the plant based eater. The name Cows N Cabs pretty much tells you that it’s meat centric. However, it is always awesome to have owner/chef Chelsie Savage and Chef de Cuisine Chef Emily Congdon of Proper and Wild in the house. A great reminder that their plant-based menu appeals to everyone who enjoys good food. Even us omnivores!
In 2018 they served Beet Tartare with cashew yolk and chive over grilled sourdough, and Heart of Palm Crabcake with spicy remoulade. In 2019 they will be sampling three dishes including Carrot Lox Crostini, and Heart Cakes Benedict.
Dixie Dharma also brought their popular “Mac N Cheese”
Of course there’s lots of sweets!
4R Specialty Cakes and Sweet Shop served up a “boozy bar” of liquor infused treats such as Blackberry Wine Cupcakes, Bourbon Banana Pudding, Jameson Cake Truffles, Strawberry Champagne Cake Shots. Enough to satisfy everyone’s sweet tooth.
The Glass Knife Chef Stuart Whitfield served a beautiful taste of autumn with Apple Spice Petite Cakes layered with salted caramel buttercream, house made apple butter and pecan crunch. Topped with salted caramel and dried apple spice, praline pecans and an edible leaf.
There’s always plenty of smiles around the Peterbrooke Chocolatier of Winter Park table. I’m always smiling with chocolate covered popcorn and truffles.
New at Cows N Cabs in 2019
These awesome restaurants and caterers will be joining Cows N Cabs in 2019: Cocina 214, The Alfond Inn, Boxi Park, Seito Sushi, Grilled Cheese Social, Sette Italian, Imperial Wine Bar at Washburn’s Imports, The Old Jailhouse, Paddlefish, Swine and Sons, Second Harvest Food Bank of Central Florida, Kelly’s Homemade Ice Cream
It’s not a Party Without Live Music!
Music is a must for a good party! And since this is a country-western themed event, the band tends to lean towards country with some pop hits thrown in for good measure. In 2018, country music recording artist Angie Keilhauer kept the crowd on the dance floor all night. Named one of the “10 New Country Artists You Need To Know” by Rolling Stone Magazine, she sang everything from Despacito to Sweet Home Alabama .
Even John Rivers, Dave Larue and John’s son joined her on stage for a song at the end of the night in what has become a tradition all attendees who return year after year look forward to.
When I asked John earlier in the night if he would go up on stage, he gave me an embarrassed look and said “no no no” but it’s a tradition and he’s all too happy to oblige as a good host.
Attendees are in for a treat this year as Jill’s Cashbox performs plus Ken Block and Drew Copeland from Sister Hazel will be making a special guest appearance.
I hope after looking at all these photos you agree this event is one to add to your list! Make plans for November 9th. You do not want to miss Cows N Cabs in Orlando. Get your tickets before they sell out. For more information and to get your tickets visit cowsncabs.com.