Mark Berdin, Jennifer Banagale & Lordfer Lalicon 


click to enlarge rsz_bartlettimage-kappo.jpg

Photo by Robert Bartlett

Jennifer Banagale, Mark Berdin and Lordfer Lalicon are a part of the New Wave of culinarians changing the restaurant landscape of our city. Kappo, their seven-seat restaurant at East End Market, is arguably Orlando's finest Japanese eatery, but each of the trio made a uniquely different foray into the world of cooking.

"One day, I stumbled upon an old, dusty copy of the Tassajara Bread Book in my friend's parents' closet," recalls Banagale. "It taught the basics of baking bread from scratch and of how just three ingredients (water, yeast, flour) could be transformed into something so perfect. I was hooked after making my first loaf!" For Berdin, tasting ohitashi – vegetables soaked in dashi – got him hooked on cooking, Japanese cuisine specifically. "I was mesmerized how a light broth like dashi (kombu and bonito shavings) could elevate the flavors of the vegetables," he says. And if it weren't for Jamie Oliver's Naked Chef series, Lalicon might have been doing chores all his life. When Oliver fashioned a chicken Cordon Bleu on one episode, a 16-year-old Lalicon felt an urge to make the dish for his friends. "As I cooked, they did my chores," says Lalicon, "and after eating my cheesy chicken, they were astounded." Lalicon made the gathering a regular occurrence, and why not? He got to practice his technique, and his famished friends did all the other work. If there is a common element binding the trio's experiences, it's simplicity – be it in ingredients, technique or execution.

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