Eliot Hillis and Seth Parker leaving Orlando Meats to start Red Panda Noodle

click to enlarge Seth Parker (L) and Eliot Hillis (R) - photo by Rob Bartlett
photo by Rob Bartlett
Seth Parker (L) and Eliot Hillis (R)

After five years of wowing patrons with their brand of kitchen sorcery and merrymaking, culinary director Eliot Hillis and chef de cuisine Seth Parker are leaving Orlando Meats to focus their attentions on noodles.

Hillis and Parker will stage pop-ups of their new concept, Red Panda Noodle, until their permanent space becomes available. All we can say about the new location is that it will be in the Winter Park/Casselberry corridor, though, as Hillis says, it will be "spiritually Casselberry."

As far the menu is concerned, Red Panda will offer handmade noodles of every sort — lo mein, tteok-bokki (rice cake), udon, youpo chemian (biang biang noodles), liang fen (mung bean noodles) and so many more.

I got a chance to sample four of the noodle dishes at a Red Panda Noodle pop-up at the Guesthouse back in April and they had me ... turning red. Specifically the tteok-bokki with spicy mornay and the hand-pulled biang biang noodles with bok choy and chili.

click to enlarge Oodles of noodles at the Red Panda pop-up in April - photo by Faiyaz Kara
photo by Faiyaz Kara
Oodles of noodles at the Red Panda pop-up in April

"It has truly been an insane journey with Orlando Meats and I hope, for our sake, we are a bit wiser for the ride," said Hillis and Parker in a statement. "There is no upper limit to the thanks or credit that can be conferred upon our city and all the people in it that helped develop us as cooks and, really, even just as human beings."

Orlando Meats quickly gained renown for its whimsical and inventive menu using top-notch ingredients when Hillis and Parker joined the Virginia Drive butcher and eatery in 2017. Of Hillis, I said, "He quite enjoys being a fearless killer of convention, preferring fermenting over butchering (yawwwn) and giddily experimenting with textures, ingredients, techniques and gastronomic esoterica of all sorts."
Early last year, Orlando Meats made the move from Virginia Drive to a larger space in the Ravaudage complex in Winter Park .

Hillis and Parker's last day at Orlando Meats will be Aug. 9, but they're staging a Red Panda pop-up this Monday at 6 p.m. at Redlight Redlight.

Trail the Red Panda on Instagram for all the latest.

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