Chef Emeril Lagasse’s Restaurant Transforms After a Decade
ORLANDO (Jan. 15, 2014) - It’s a new decade at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop. The upscale Asian-Polynesian eatery from renowned chef Emeril Lagasse recently launched several updates to the 11-year-old restaurant, including a new chef de cuisine, Ryan Vargas, and general manager, Andy Vaughn, updated lunch and dinner menus featuring dishes from a brand-new Japanese robata grill, a renovated sushi bar with expanded sushi offerings, a fresh cocktail menu, revamped interior decor, and happy hour specials. Located inside Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort, Tchoup Chop offers a one-of-a-kind dining experience and Lagasse’s unique twist on flavors from the Pacific Islands.
The highlight of the restaurant’s kitchen updates is the new robata grill, a traditional Japanese grill that sears meat, seafood and vegetables at up to 1,000° F, allowing dishes to maintain their natural juices and flavor. Tchoup Chop is one of only two restaurants in Orlando to use the unique and rustic grilling method. Guests may order small dishes from the robata menu as sides with an entrée, as appetizers to share with the table, or with several selections from the menu as an entrée, choosing from options such as Japanese Eggplant with a chili mint sauce, Pork Belly Tocino and Lemongrass-marinated Chicken Wing with spicy chili sauce.
“I absolutely love Asian-inspired cuisine, and with Tchoup Chop’s new menu we wanted to diversify and update our dishes for today’s palate, including healthy, lighter options with our signature bold flavors,” said Emeril Lagasse, owner and executive chef of the restaurant. “Chef Vargas’ diverse experience in island cuisine, along with our top-notch culinary and service teams, will continue to offer a truly special dining experience for our guests from the moment they step inside the restaurant.”
Highlights from Emeril’s Tchoup Chop updates include:
- New management team, including chef de cuisine Ryan Vargas and general manager Andy Vaughn
- Japanese robata grill and special grill menu
- Expanded sushi offerings and space at the Food Bar to watch sushi chefs working
- Updated lunch and dinner menus, featuring new classics like:
- Schimi-spiced Mahi Mahi over coconut-spinach luau risott with lomi lomi tomatoes
- Hibachi Skirt Steak with Okinawa smashed potatoes, wild mushroom “poke” and Asian Chimichiri
- Hawaiian Malasadas with lilikoi and haupia custards
- Revamped classic and signature cocktail menus
- Daily happy hour at the outdoor Tiki Bar with food and drink specials
- Interior décor and kitchen renovations, including a floral mosaic in dining room. (Watch a time lapse video of the mosaic installation.)
About Emeril’s Tchoup Chop
Emeril’s Tchoup Chop (pronounced “chop-chop”), located at 6300 Hollywood Way at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando Resort, opened in 2002 as chef Emeril Lagasse’s second restaurant in Orlando. The name “Tchoup Chop” is a play on New Orleans’ famous Tchoupitoulas Street, where Emeril’s Restaurant is located, and the bold culinary term “chop.” The restaurant provides complimentary valet parking for lunch and dinner, accessed through a covered drive at the Royal Pacific Ballroom entrance. Tchoup Chop serves lunch daily, 11:30 a.m.-2:30 p.m. and dinner daily from 5-10 p.m. Happy hour is served daily from 5-8 p.m. at the outdoor Tiki Bar. For reservations, call 407-503-2467 or visit online at EmerilsRestaurants.com/Emerils-Tchoup-Chop.
About Emeril Lagasse
Chef Emeril Lagasse is the chef/proprietor of 13 restaurants in New Orleans, Las Vegas, Orlando, Bethlehem, Pa. and Charlotte, N.C. As a national TV personality, he has hosted more than 2,000 shows on the Food Network, and is the food correspondent for ABC’s “Good Morning America.” His latest TV show, Emeril’s Florida, premiered January 2013 on the Cooking Channel. Most recently, Lagasse joins the judges’ table on Top Chef New Orleans - season 11 of Bravo’s hit food series. Lagasse is the best-selling author of 18 cookbooks, including his latest cookbook, Cooking with Power, set to debut in October 2013. In 2002, Emeril established the Emeril Lagasse Foundation to support children’s educational programs that inspire and mentor young people through the culinary arts, nutrition, healthy eating, and important life skills. To date, the Foundation has donated more than $5.5 million to community organizations in New Orleans, Las Vegas and on the Gulf Coast. For his philanthropic efforts, Emeril was named the 2013 Humanitarian of the Year by the James Beard Foundation.
About Ryan Vargas
Armed with more than 20 years of experience in the culinary arts, Ryan Vargas took the helm at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop at the Loews Royal Pacific Resort at Universal Orlando as chef de cuisine in October 2013. Vargas, a Hawaii native, joined Tchoup Chop after spending about 13 years leading the kitchens at some of the island’s top resorts, including the Four Seasons Resort in Hualalai and the Ritz Carlton in Kapalua Maui. Vargas also led the kitchen at the Four Seasons Resort in Palm Beach, Fla., where he was voted as “Palm Beach County Best Chef” by the Palm Beach Post in 2011. Classically trained, Vargas graduated from the Culinary Institute of America at Hyde Park, N.Y. in 1991 with an associate’s degree in Culinary Arts.
About Andy Vaughn
Andy Vaughn was promoted to general manager at Emeril’s Tchoup Chop in December 2013. Vaughn joined Emeril’s Orlando in 2002, quickly being promoted to back then front waiter before joining the management team about two years later. In 2008, Vaughn was promoted to sommelier of the restaurant, in charge of its award-winning wine list. Originally from Annapolis, Md., Vaughn’s family moved to Eustis, Fla. while he was in high school. After graduation, Vaughan served as a Third Class Petty Officer in the U.S. Navy for four years, deploying for two tours of duty in the Middle East.