Behind Matsuya Sushi & Grill's sparkling L-shaped sushi counter, succulent fillets of tuna, salmon, and white fish succumb to chefs' keen knives before joining rice in bite-sized nigiri or tempting rolls. Collective gasps of admiration—usually reserved for the unveiling of a child’s macaroni self-portrait—leap from the lips of patrons as a chef taps and tosses shrimp, chicken, filet mignon, and lobster on the hibachi grill. Dressed in traditional Japanese robes and hats, waiters ferry plates decorated with carrot roses and artful splashes of sauce across the dining room, where screens and blond woods cultivate a peaceful atmosphere. Chefs reveal their sushi secrets every Sunday, bestowing their knowledge upon students during four-hour all-you-can-eat sushi-making classes.
Pete Behringer's passion for sweets ignited at the age of 14, when his mother founded Peterbrooke Chocolatier, the site of his first job. Pete’s profession hasn’t changed in three decades, and his passion and talent for handcrafting artisan confections has flourished. His insistence on weaving together simple, all-natural ingredients with an artisan touch earned him the proud title of Chocolatier of the Year for his gourmet chocolate treats, many of which are gluten-free, at Jacksonville's 2012 Taste of Chocolate Challenge. Within his candy shop, a century-old picturesque Victorian nestled in historical Springfield, he displays rainbows of jellybeans, sour gummy bears, vegan and gluten-free products, and colorful lollipops shaped like animals, airplanes, and Rorschach blots. When he's not spinning natural cane sugar into edible masterpieces, Pete hosts candy-making classes, parties, and events in his candy shop or on location.
Under the umbrella of The Art Institutes, The Art Institute of Jacksonville is a fully accredited branch of Miami International University of Art & Design. They offer programs and degrees in the applied arts, ranging from culinary arts and digital filmmaking, to interior design and how to convince shoppers they like wearing potato sacks. The faculty includes a diverse crew of instructors with industry experience and degrees from institutions such as The Juilliard School, the University of Southern California, Vancouver Film School, and the Fashion Institute of Technology. The Institute frequently holds art exhibitions, gallery showings, and student showcases of projects such as films and shorts.