On The Menu: Craft Cuisine

By Ilia Laboy

The expedition begins as you walk through the sizable brass doors, and are met by smiling servers and a gorgeous reflective fountain that immediately communicates rustic luxury. A room filled with wine from floor to ceiling displays the wide array of variety you can expect from this establishment. The drawn curtains, dim lighting and multitude of greenery give it an intimate homey ambiance which makes it feel as if you were walking into a family friend’s for dinner. The vision was clear and skillfully brought to life by our very own girl boss Fatima Luzuriaga.

Fatima was born into the restaurant business. Growing up, her parents had a restaurant in New Jersey and in 1991, after moving to Ocala, they opened the local gem we now know as Latinos Y Mas, and thus began their journey to becoming restaurateurs.

“I am a huge foodie!” she says, “I love to travel and try new foods!

After acquiring Latinos Y Mas, Webster was part of the team that opened Ipanema Brazilian Steakhouse. In 2011, Webster and Fatima had the opportunity to purchase Ipanema and most recently in 2016, Craft Cuisine. Here, they bring together and share the different flavors of the world, which they have previously enjoyed.

“Ocala needed a place where people can experience worldwide flavors. A great place with great food and a great atmosphere,” she recounts. With the help of Chef Victor Luzarraga and Manager Jean M. Garden who has 35 years experience in catering, events and the restaurant business, they have created just that.

Chef Victor Luzarraga is of Cuban, Puerto Rican, and Italian descent and is bringing his culture as well as over 16 years of experience as an executive chef to this beautiful venue. Victor emphasized, “We make everything from scratch in-house. Down to the chocolate sauces and coulis for our desserts.” With huge attention to detail, they fuse Asian, Latin, American and classic Italian cuisines to bring a sophisticated and worldly elevation to even the simplest of dishes, like the humble burger. Every Thursday during Bourbon and Burgers you can enjoy a diverse and ever-changing array of gourmet burgers. “We want people to try new burgers and flavors,” shares Victor, “to show that burgers can be more that meat and cheese between two buns.”

Constantly evolving and innovating, the team is currently putting together a menu featuring some frequently requested old favorites as well as some highly-liked recent specials to be released in August.

When asked what advice she would give others wanting to be an entrepreneur she raved “Go for it! As long as you have a good idea, remember to have patience, commitment and hard work ethic. There’s a lot of competition out here now. It takes 1-3 years of putting money in to actually get to see something come back. I always encourage everyone to follow their dreams.”

Most entrepreneurs expand on already established concepts. It takes a true restaurateur and visionary to create 3 different concepts and make them all work and be successful. Fatima credits their success to the continued support of the community. “We receive a lot of support from the community so it’s very important to also give back and be involved.” Most recently, they have participated with Relay for Life for the American Cancer Society, Feed the Need of Marion County that benefit the Rock Program in local High schools and also the Ocala Domestic Violence/Sexual Assault Center.

Breaking out of the stigma of what preceded them in their location, almost 3 year old Craft Cuisine is surprisingly affordable. They also offer event catering, for up to 500 people, and have private rooms available for special events. For more information on events and catering you can contact Manager Jean M. Garden.

Take a trip down the road and be introduced to all new, world class flavor profiles you may not have ever thought of at Craft Cuisine. 

Could You Have a Heart Attack?

Provided by BRANDPOINT

Many Americans consider themselves well-informed and attentive when it comes to their health.

That’s why it’s so puzzling that many remain unfazed by the threat of heart disease.

That was among the findings of the MDVIP Heart Attack IQ Survey, a national study showing Americans are more concerned about cancer than a heart attack – even though cardiovascular disease kills more people than all forms of cancer combined. In fact, heart disease is the underlying cause of one in three U.S. deaths. Many Americans don’t take it seriously because they believe most heart problems can be treated with medication or surgery, while others simply procrastinate when it comes to adopting healthier behaviors that help prevent heart disease.

As a result, many are surprised when faced with a life-threatening heart attack, which can happen to anyone at any age. While the average age for a first attack is 66 for men and 70 for women, the risk increases significantly as soon as men reach 45 and women reach 55.

“Despite the statistics, people assume a heart attack is going to happen to somebody else, but not to them,” said MDVIP Chief Medical Officer Dr. Andrea Klemes. “Heart disease can be dangerously silent, which is why it’s important to know your risk factors and the steps you can take to minimize them.”

Gloom and doom aside, awareness of the issue is the first step, and there is much you can do to prevent heart disease. Some 80 percent of heart attacks and strokes are preventable.

Consider these suggestions for reducing your risk of heart attack:

Partner with your primary. Your primary care doctor is your first line of defense in helping prevent heart disease. Make sure you partner with a physician who has the time to identify and discuss your risk in detail, who will work on a plan to control your risk factors and who can provide ongoing support to keep you motivated and accountable. Physicians like those in the MDVIP network maintain smaller practices so that they can devote more time to each patient and provide the coaching needed to keep them on track.

Stay up to date on screenings. When’s the last time you had your blood pressure and cholesterol checked? But don’t stop at the basics. Most heart attacks occur in people with normal cholesterol levels. You also want to get a read on whether you have inflammation in your arteries or insulin resistance, both of which raise your heart disease risk. You can only act on what you know, and knowing your numbers is key to early detection.

Make heart-healthy changes. Creating and sustaining healthy lifestyle habits can help keep your blood pressure, cholesterol and sugar in check and lower your risk for heart disease. So don’t skip your exercise, weight management or smoking cessation programs. Just make sure you consult with your doctor before changing your diet or beginning a new exercise program.

Sleep more, stress less. While often overlooked, insufficient sleep and excessive stress can put strain on your heart over time. Both can also influence your eating habits, mood and overall health. Most adults need seven to nine hours per night; if you’re getting that and still feel tired, consider asking your doctor for a sleep apnea test. Also, try starting a regular practice – whether it’s a yoga class, deep breathing or a daily walk outside – to better manage stress. 

Take the Heart Attack IQ quiz

and learn more about finding a preventive physician by visiting

www.mdvip.com/HeartAttackIQ

Local Music Scene: Songs of Summer

 

The Ocala music scene is filled with talented individuals using their artistic abilities to create amazing entertainment. This month I had the pleasure of speaking to Summer Patterson a local singer/songwriter whose honesty and depth captures her audiences and them on a lyrical journey through the human experience.

Where did your love of music begin?

I have always felt a connection to music. I would spend countless hours of my childhood singing songs. I would play air guitar and air drums when I went to the store with my mom while I listened to my MP3 player. I also got into trouble a lot in school for beating on my desk.  There was always a way to make life more musical, and I was always seeking out how.

Who or what are your current musical influences?

Sabrina Claudio, Alina Baraz, and Gabi Wilson or “H.E.R.” are some amazing female artists I’ve been drawing influence from recently. Justin Nozuka, Daughter, and Alicia Keys to name a few others that I always listen to for some added inspiration.

How has your music evolved since you’ve started?

When I first started writing music I was such a young mind. I had a lot of great ideas and wrote a lot of awesome lyrics that I couldn’t seem to put together in a way that made musical sense. It was honestly really discouraging for a while, and I hated everything I wrote so I took to learning a lot of covers and I think that honestly really helped me understand music more. Fast forward ten plus years, and I am still not quite where I want to be but I can confidently say that I have grown significantly as an artist.

As a singer/songwriter, from your perspective, what is needed to help the Ocala music scene flourish?

I think Ocala really needs an all age venue. Somewhere that people of all ages could go and enjoy the local talent. It’s hard having shows in bars that only allow those over twenty one, and I think that more people would come out if those restrictions weren’t there.

Being a singer/songwriter take us through your creative process.

Usually how it works is I’ll come up with something catchy on the guitar, and I’ll work to build upon that little that I have and start composing other pieces to add into a song. Then I’ll listen to what I have and I’ll just start writing lyric fragments and words that come to mind. It’s a process sometimes, but all good things take time.

What are your musical aspirations? Where do you see yourself in five years?

In five years I really hope that I’m playing shows more regularly and making music a priority in my life. I’d really like to dabble more in other genres and practice other styles. I put music on the back burner for a while, but I’m planning a major comeback.

What is the most important aspect of being a local musician?

Being a local musician means a lot. I think more than anything it means supporting others in the scene. Going to local shows, engaging and encouraging through social media platforms, listening to music that others in the scene create, there are countless ways to support each other.  That also means supporting your promoters and the people that really help you get your name out. Respect and appreciate those that are around you.

LISTEN: soundcloud.com/1940196971

40 Under Forty: Amy Ingram

Age: 34

Business Analyst, United Health Group – OptumRx

 

Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you? \

Being a part of the Junior League of Ocala I am constantly inspired by our members and community partners, they are some of the most strong, compassionate, caring people I’ve ever met! Whether it is helping underprivileged children, improving our parks or just giving a helping hand, everyone has a desire to improve the lives in our community and they all want to make a difference. It’s a pretty great group to be surrounded by!

 

What aspirations do you have for yourself?

I have worked in the Healthcare industry for over 15years and I would like to eventually move to the Project team within United that develops ideas for Healthcare reform. I would also really love to write a children’s book someday. I’ve had this story in my head for a long time about a little girl who has adventures through her love of reading. It’s inspired by my late grandmother, Shelby; I’ve even named it “Shelby goes” and I know one day I’ll get around to working on it.

 

What is your favorite way to give back to the community? 

I have always had a passion for volunteering. Through Junior League, I’ve had an abundance of opportunities to volunteer with our community impact projects and also help other non-profits with projects like painting at PACE, serving breakfast at Interfaith and mentoring the mothers at Project Hope. I also love being able to bring my daughters Lorelei (5) and Jules (almost 3) along with me to some events. I want them to understand the importance of giving back. Their favorite activities are when we help at literacy events at Oakcrest Elementary, ring the bells at Christmas time and help with local drives.

 

What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area? 

I love that even though Ocala is growing, it still has that small town charm. Not growing up here, this town has welcomed me with open arms. It’s truly a wonderful place to live and raise a family.

40 Under Forty: Destiny Espinosa

Age: 29

Assistant Manager at Zone Health and Fitness East

 

Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you?

I love being able to work where I get to be part of our members lives and watch them transform into the best versions of themselves.   

 

What aspirations do you have for yourself? 

To leave a legacy for my son and provide a bright future for him with opportunities that I never had.   

 

What is your favorite way to give back to the community? 

Every year, my son and I participate in the angel tree. We love anything that is related to helping kids.  

 

What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area?

I love being part of a small community where it feels like a family.

40 Under Forty: Autumn Swanhart

Age: 32

Facility Administrator, RN at DaVita

 

Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you? 

I have always been inspired by those who help others. There are so many organizations within the community that gives selflessly. I have both been a part of and witnessed the selflessness and compassion of organizations such as Dignity Roasters, The Women’s Pregnancy Center, Unlimited Discipleship Ministries, and Christian 12 Step Ministry to name a few. These organizations push me to be better because of the good I see them do. More so, my church home, Central Christian Church, is highly involved in community outreach. This is one of the reasons I love my church. They are continuously looking for ways to give back, which then gives us a chance as a church body to do so as well. Central hosts annual events such as “Jumpstart” and “Love Ocala” which is completely based on giving back to the community. I’m blessed to be a part of this. 

 

What aspirations do you have for yourself?  

Since giving back is something that gives me joy, I have recently been looking for ways that I can personally be more involved in the community. I am finally graduating with my BSN in August, which will free up a lot of time for me. I just joined Junior League of Ocala so that I can take this extra time to volunteer and make a difference in peoples lives. In addition, I aspire to be a great leader for my team. I hope to teach them and guide them, but more importantly, to listen to them and support them when needed. I love using what I’ve learned to teach and grow others. I also aspire to “Be Jesus.” As my pastor always says, we must love others and put others first. I always try to put God first in everything and aspire to be someone that anyone, religious or not, can talk to and be open with. Finally, I am a mother of two, and my biggest aspiration is to be a role model for my two babies. I want to teach them to love and have compassion for everyone. To give back, be selfless, and praise God for the opportunity to do so. There is no better way to teach than to lead by example, and I pray that my life and my actions will someday become milestones for my children.

 

What is your favorite way to give back to the community?

Although I love participating in large events that involve community outreach, I personally love every day small acts of kindness. It’s something you don’t necessarily have to go out of your way to do, but it still impacts the community. Little things like buying the person behind you in line a coffee, giving a compliment, or even holding the door open for someone to make a difference. Anything that puts a smile on someone’s face brings me joy, and I truly believe its impactful. 

 

 What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area?

What I love most about Ocala are the relationships that I’ve built here. It’s where I grew up and where a lot of my family lives. But it’s also where I met my husband, where we bought our first home, and where my children were born. It’s where I met some of my very best friends. And it’s where I get to continue to make wonderful memories with these people that I love most. Ocala will always hold a special spot in my heart.

40 Under Forty: Heather DeShaw

Age: 36

Owner Servicemaster

 

Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you? 

I am inspired by two specific types of people; one is those who are willing to do whatever they have to do to support their family like working multiple jobs, traveling unthinkable distances, hustling to the late hours to make ends meet. I am also inspired by those who no longer must work but continue to give back to their community!  I have been and often find myself in the first category with aspirations of shifting to a more philanthropic lifestyle as the work finally begins to pay off. 

 

What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area? 

There are several things that I love about Ocala.  First, I love the open arms and loyalty we have towards each other and our local businesses.  This has been a terrific place to use as home base for my commercial cleaning company. Second, and even more importantly, I love the family first mentality of our community.  We are a large family here. Lastly, I love the generous culture many of us business owners share of truly paying it forward.  We are blessed in this community and I am impressed to see many taking on the responsibilities that come with those blessings!

40 Under Forty: Anna Babbitt

Age: 39

Owner, Twice Upon A Time

Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you? 

My community inspires me. Any time I have presented an issue to my community, families rise up and come together.  When my store flooded after Hurricane Irma, families came together to ensure I could rebuild. Any cause I have presented, my community has received with love and support and this support just inspires me to be better!

What aspirations do you have for yourself?

I am excited to keep growing as a person. I hope to help moms realize their worth and that they matter. I want to keep bringing people together and providing a safe place for all parents to just be themselves. We will be a community resource for all things parenting!  Car seat safety, breastfeeding support, cloth diapering, birth options, infant CPR  you name it. I’d love to educate and make it feel “normal” to families. 

What is your favorite way to give back to the community? 

We LOVE hosting events! We are a community of moms that come together and lift each other up in times of struggle.  We have hosted events/fundraisers for moms that have tragically lost children, we hosted a superhero day for a local 9-year-old superhero battling cancer.  We work with local schools to help provide clothing to children that may need it. We monitor a “Stork Station” in which moms leave items they no longer need such as diapers and formula so that families can help each other.

 

What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area? 

I love the land and diversity here.  I love that I can be in a busy downtown, gorgeous open fields of horses, the forest with amazing wildlife, the prairies all within 30 minutes. The parks here are amazing for my kids.  Heritage Nature Park is so relaxing and Cohadjoe is a family favorite!

40 Under Forty: Ashley Justiniano

Age: 31

Gallery Director at Marion Cultural Alliance (Brick City Center for the Arts)

Whether it’s a business or community involvement, what inspires you? 

The resilience of my mother, the wisdom of my father, the authenticity of my sister, the kindness of my grandparents, that free-spirited attitude my uncles & cousins have… I come from a big (and loud) Puerto Rican family. Mi Familia is everything.

What aspirations do you have for yourself? 

To create, live life to the fullest and continue spreading the important message that art & creativity are essential in our lives. 

What is your favorite way to give back to the community? 

By boosting our cultural art scene, and promoting creative experiences available for all to enjoy here in Ocala. Whether it’s the latest art exhibition, a new restaurant, a theatre play, a movie, a music concert, a local art venue, the local park, public art projects, a huge community event, or even a small one, our community has it all and locals don’t even have to take I75 to indulge in it.

What is your favorite thing about the Ocala area? My favorite thing about Ocala is our local art community. I’ve never met so many people who share my passion for the arts as I have had the pleasure to in Ocala. We work together and stand stronger than ever together; ALL for the ARTS. I love it!

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