South Florida Chefs’ Favorite Dishes And How To Make Them

South Florida Chefs’ Favorite Dishes And How To Make Them

by Heather Carney Feb 23, 2016 01:24 PM Also on Digital Edition

Bite into a dish from one of these chefs and you’re guaranteed to be impressed. With new flavors, creative pairings and eye-catching presentations, they’re making waves in the South Florida dining scene. We can’t wait to see what they dream up next.

 

Adrienne Grenier 

Executive Chef, 3030 Ocean

It’s rare to meet native Floridians. It’s even more rare to find those who stay. Then there’s chef Adrienne Grenier—a South Florida girl through and through. Even her sunny days spent in Southern California couldn’t compete with her memories of balmy Florida. “It was too cold for me!” says the Hollywood, Florida native who spent time at Gordon Ramsay’s restaurant at The London Hotel West Hollywood before returning to her home state. Now, as the newly appointed executive chef at the rebranded 3030 Ocean, we know she is here to stay. After years of watching her thrive under chefs Paula DaSilva and Max Dean, we couldn’t be more excited to see the 32-year-old at the helm of one of Fort Lauderdale’s premier dining spots. After all, it’s where her career first began 10 years ago. 

What was the biggest lesson you learned starting out? 

Don’t be scared. It’s just cooking.

What’s the most underrated ingredient? Most overrated?  

Most underrated: acid. I really love a hit of acid from vinegar or pickles to really make a dish pop. Most overrated are the expensive things like foie gras and truffles and caviar and even lobster. Many chefs use them for basic wow factor.  

What excites you about the South Florida food scene?

I am excited about diners getting to be more interested in individual chefs and wanting to try more things because they like a chef’s style, and not just ordering the same old things all the time. It really gives chefs the opportunity to be creative.

Favorite local spots?

My favorite local restaurant is Le Tub in Hollywood because I love to sit outside and eat a cheeseburger. In Fort Lauderdale I love Market 17, Hardy Park Bistro, S3, Burlock Coast. In Miami I love Pubbelly, Macchialina and La Sandwicherie.

What’s your go-to kitchen tool?

My favorite spoons.

 

FAVORITE DISH: Sunray Venus Clams with Bacon, Potato & Crème Fraiche Broth (Serves 4)

INGREDIENTS

1 lb. Sunray Venus clams (can substitute littleneck clams), thoroughly rinsed

4 oz. smoked bacon, diced

1 leek, white and light green part, rinsed and thinly sliced

1 shallot, thinly sliced

3 cloves garlic, minced

4 oz. baby potatoes, boiled until tender, then diced

10 sprigs fresh thyme

1 fresh bay leaf

1 cup white wine

2 cups fish stock (can substitute water)

3 tbsp. good quality butter

3 tbsp. crème fraiche

½ lemon, juiced

3 tbsp. whipped cream

3 tbsp. chopped parsley

3 tbsp. chopped chives

PREPARATION

In a large pan, render the bacon over medium heat. When the bacon is cooked, remove all but about two tablespoons of fat from the pan. Add the leeks and shallots and sauté until translucent, about three minutes. Add the garlic, potatoes, thyme and bay leaf, and cook for about a minute. Add the clams to the pan, then deglaze with the white wine and allow to cook one minute, then add the fish stock. Cover the pan for a few minutes to allow the clams to steam open.

When the clams are open, add the butter and crème fraiche and stir until incorporated. Pick out the thyme stems and bay leaf, and discard any clams that did not open. Season the broth with lemon juice, then add the whipped cream and herbs right before serving.

 

Eric Baker 

Executive Chef, Max’s Harvest & Max’s Social House

It was an unlikely circumstance that brought Eric Baker, 35, to South Florida. He was moving from New York to Las Vegas to work at Daniel Boulud’s new restaurant at the Wynn Hotel until its opening was delayed several months. In need of a job, he came to Palm Beach in the interim to work at Cafe Boulud. “A few months slowly became four years,” he says. The chef, who is originally from Syosset, New York, says his culinary education began by learning from his grandmother. To that foundation, he added international experiences in Paris and Spain, plus travels through China and Japan, to create a style that is cultural, yet rooted in classical French cooking. Before taking the helm at Max’s Harvest and Max’s Social House, he spent time at Chops Lobster Bar, Steak 954 and Lobster Bar Sea Grille.  

What was the biggest lesson you learned starting out?  

That this is going to be a long, hard road to the top.

Who are your culinary mentors?

Jean Claude Teulade, executive chef of Louis XVI in Patchogue, New York. He gave me my first experience in a professional kitchen and was instrumental in sending me to culinary school in Paris.

Zach Bell, the former executive chef at Café Boulud Palm Beach. Under Zach’s tutelage, I developed my work ethic. Besides teaching me the techniques in cuisine that I employ today, he exemplified what it takes to make it in this business. The hard grind and absolute patience that is necessary to reach your goals. “Baby Steps,” quoted from the movie “What About Bob,” was the consistent message I heard from Zach.

Favorite local spots?

Rebel House in Boca, 50 Ocean in Delray Beach.

 

FAVORITE DISH: Shrimp Stuffed Tempura Shishito Peppers, Seaweed Sauce & Bonito

SHISHITO FILLING

1 lb. shrimp

¼ lb. pork fat back, diced and blanched

2 tsp. sugar

1 egg white

2 tsp. fish sauce

1/3 tsp. salt

3 cloves garlic, minced

3 each shallots, minced

PREPARATION

In a robot coupe, puree together the shrimp and fat back until smooth. Place puree in a mixing bowl and combine with remaining ingredients. Put into a pastry bag for easy stuffing of the shishito peppers.

SEAWEED SAUCE 

10 oz. sake

1 cup water

3.25 oz. soy

2.5 oz. vegetable oil

1 lbs. sugar

1.5  oz. Mirin

1.25 oz. Nori

PREPARATION

Combine all ingredients in a saucepot; reduce by three quarters and puree in a blender until smooth. Remember, it will get thicker once it cools down. Set aside. 

TEMPURA BATTER

1 cup rice flour

½ tsp. salt

½ cup club soda, cold

PREPARATION

In a large bowl, whisk club soda into the rice flour until a pancake-batter consistency is achieved. Chill.

SHISHITO PEPPERS

shishito peppers

1 lime

1 tbsp. bonito flakes

PREPARATION

With a small pairing knife, cut along the length of the pepper exposing the seeds on one side. Remove the seeds carefully and insert the tip of the pastry bag into the pepper to fill the shishito with the shrimp filling. Coat each pepper individually in the chilled tempura batter and cook in a 350-degree deep fryer for approximately four minutes. Place the hot shishito peppers on a plate, sprinkle the bonito flakes over top and serve with the seaweed sauce and lime wedge.

 

Brian Cantrell 

Executive Chef, The Office

A Southerner at heart, Brian Cantrell remembers growing up in Asheville, North Carolina with pigs, chickens and a big garden. He spent his boyhood years fishing and bird hunting. So when he got his first job in a kitchen, it was a natural fit. “I first learned to cook at home and with my family; we always cooked the traditional Southern stuff,” Cantrell says, adding that it gave him a solid foundation to later learn more refined French-European cuisines. He was trained at a local culinary school before the days of “super chefs” and the Food Network. “I just wanted to cook the best food and learn as much as I could,” says the 42-year-old chef, whose resume boasts local restaurants Blue Moon Fish Co. and Thasos, and The Avalon in Miami. Still an avid learner, Cantrell says his main motivation every day is to keep growing. “You never know everything,” he says. In his new position as chef at The Office in Delray Beach, he says the burgers will stay front and center but to expect local surprises. “We want to give people what they want, foremost. Then give them more than they expect. That’s what makes a dining experience memorable,” he says.

What excites you about the South Florida food scene? 

Local restaurants that are small and try not to appeal to everyone. There are more places like that up here in Palm Beach. Maybe because the real estate isn’t so expensive. Or maybe because there are more people who will take a chance on a chef who doesn’t have a restaurant empire behind him. Either way, it’s refreshing to see non-corporate restaurants and independent, smaller conglomerate groups producing high quality food and service. 

Favorite local spots? 

Coconuts, Hot & Soul, The Tipsy Boar, Cibo Wine Bar, Steak 954. 

What’s your go-to kitchen tool? 

10-inch chef knife.

 

FAVORITE DISH: Filet mignon medallions with fingerling potatoes, truffled mushrooms, baby spinach, Maytag blue cheese, port wine reduction​

INGREDIENTS

2.5 to 3 oz. filet medallions (3 each)

4 oz. fingerling potatoes

2 cups baby spinach

1 cup oyster mushrooms

4 each shiitake mushrooms

1 tbsp. oil

2 tbsp. butter

truffle shavings, to taste

salt and pepper, to taste

sliced chives, to taste

chopped tarragon, to taste

chopped basil, to taste

lemon juice, to taste

1 cup port wine

1 cup red wine vinegar

½ cup sugar

2 oz. blue cheese

PROCEDURE

Season filet medallions with salt and pepper, then sear medallions in a heavy gauge pan. Remove sliced potatoes and add to pan. Place in 450-degree oven until potatoes are almost cooked. Remove from oven, add mushrooms to pan and cook until almost soft. Add spinach, butter, herbs and lemon juice. Cook until spinach is just wilted. Place sauted vegetables on plate and place the medallions on top. Top with the blue cheese and the prepared sauce. 

Sauce: Ahead of time, reduce port wine, vinegar and sugar by half. 

 

Philip Darmon

Chef/Owner, Hardy Park Bistro

The story ends with Darmon meeting his wife in Fort Lauderdale and the couple opening their very own restaurant. But Darmon, 42, has pages of stories before you get to that final chapter. At the age of 16, he embarked on his cooking career in Sydney, Australia, which led him to work at two, 5-star hotels. Then he moved to the water, where for 12 years he cooked aboard stunning yachts for the “world’s most discerning people.” But when love prevailed, he said goodbye to the days at sea. Today, Darmon, who is infectiously kind and cheerful, puts his heart and soul into Fort Lauderdale’s Hardy Park Bistro, where he serves casual yet sophisticated dishes that evolve weekly based on the season. A hit with locals, we have a feeling Hardy Park won’t be Darmon’s final chapter for long. 

What attracted you to cooking? 

I grew up cooking with my grandfather. I learned from guidance, reading and practice.

How would you describe your cooking style?

Simple. I cook with whatever fresh ingredients are available at the time. 

What was the biggest lesson you learned starting out?

Teamwork is wonderful.

What excites you about the South Florida food scene? 

More small, chef-owned restaurants; less massive warehouses of mediocrity. 

Favorite local spots? 

Casa D’Angelo and Scolapasta in Fort Lauderdale.

 

FAVORITE DISH: Burrata with Carrots, Arugula Pesto & Olive Oil​

INGREDIENTS 

1 piece burrata 

3 baby carrots

1 whole carrot

1 pinch thyme 

1 pinch basil 

Extra-virgin olive oil

PESTO INGREDIENTS

2 cups arugula 

1/8 cup toasted pine nuts 

1/4 cup grated Parmesan

1 small clove garlic 

salt and pepper

1/4 cup olive oil 

PREPARATION

Halve the baby carrots and roast in oven till lightly browned. Shave whole carrot as thin as possible on a mandolin. Arrange roasted and shaved carrot on plate, then place burrata on top. Sprinkle plate with fresh thyme, torn basil and arugula pesto. Drizzle with olive oil. Season.

To make pesto, place all ingredients in a food processor and mix till combined.


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