The COOP Winter Park Brings Small Town Southern Charm to the City
A few block from the bustling Park Avenue area of Winter Park, Florida, lies a bright red corner building that your eyes can’t help but be drawn to. Inside The COOP Winter Park, you will be transported from the greater Orlando area and into a cozy, homestyle Mississippi kitchen – which is, of course, the point.
The brainchild of John Rivers, of 4Rivers fame, this somewhat recent gem has gained quick popularity. The COOP: A Southern Affair encompasses down-home southern cooking. Rivers soon brought aboard Chef Whitney Miller, season 1 champion of the popular competitive cooking show MasterChef, to help develop the menu and serve up some Southern greatness.
I was lucky enough to enjoy a tasting menu on my visit – some of Miller’s favorites. A few starters came first: one that stands out were the deviled eggs – firm & tasty. The sweet potatoes with pepper jelly were a delicious, sweet & spicy spin on an old classic.
As a going-on-7-year Floridian, I am somewhat ashamed to say I’ve never tried chicken and waffles (pictured above) – until now. With a maple bourbon glaze, it was love at first bite. And the shrimp and grits? Better than those I’ve had in the low country itself.
Too hungover or lazy to leave your house for waffles? Here is a decent Plan B from Amazon:
Miller grew up in Mississippi, and was greatly influenced by her mother and great-grandmother in the kitchen. She began cooking at an early age, and by age 12 she was already pursuing her then-dream of becoming a pastry chef. Says Miller, “I love using my Southern cooking style with Mississippi & Louisiana cuisine influences, my creativity and cooking skills into developing recipes for The COOP’s menu”.
The COOP: A Southern Affair is open Monday-Saturday starting at 7AM, serving an extremely popular breakfast.