The food at Fusion Fest speaks to Orlando’s diversity


For five years, Fusion Fest has highlighted and celebrated the impressive diversity of Central Florida, showcasing fashion, theater, visual art, spoken word and more, but the food of all these cultures may do the best job of opening doors to one another .

“There’s so much diversity in food here in the city,” says Maria Mancia, director of marketing and development for Fusion Fest, this year set for Nov. 26-27, noon-6 p.m., at Seneff Arts Plaza on Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts. “That’s one of the things we love the most and want to highlight.”

Participating members of the region’s culinary community—that includes chefs, restaurants, catering companies and more—are encouraged to share not only food from their own culture, but also bold combinations of them. In fact, that was the principle behind the recent Fusion Fest cooking competition, an event where contestants competed for a $1,000 prize in June.

Previous winners include Ryan Manning of MX Taco, Kevin Fanvilai of Sticky Rice Lao Street Food and Guillermo Herrera of The Pass Progressive.

Fusion Fest is a free two-day celebration of the many cultures that make Central Florida a great place to live.

Among the vendors at this weekend’s festival, 2022 winner Simon Quintero, a Venezuelan who fused the cuisine of his home nation with that of India, will serve the dish that brought him victory.


“The concept was for chefs to use ingredients, spices and cooking techniques from different countries around the world and combine them,” explains Mancia.

The festival, which will feature dozens of singers, dancers, musicians and more — plus artisan vendors perfect for holiday shopping — is free. Food items from 15 vendors will include dishes priced at $3, $6 and $9, serving everything from meat empanadas to vegan Vietnamese food to Spanish specials from the Disney Springs Jaleo team.

“We really want to emphasize diversity,” says Mancia. “This is big for us and we want everyone to bring their families and come explore.”

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