Tag Archives: seafood

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters RecipeChef David Pan was born and raised in Minneapolis, Minnesota – one of my favorite towns in the world! After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu Mendota Heights, he began his career at WA Frost in St. Paul with Chef Russell Kline. WA Frost, one of my favorite restaurants in the Twin Cities, is a leading culinary institution in the Midwest, winning multiple awards, including the “AAA” Tour book 3 Diamond Rating – they also have a great outdoor patio, FYI. Pan noted, when I expressed my joy at eating at Frost, that it was a great place to start! He said, “they have a great culinary vibe – everyone is there because they love to cook. There are hard core line cooks!”

He then moved on to the prestigious Minneapolis Club, one of the last invitation only clubs in the US, and his culinary skills were put to test cooking for the elite clientele. Pan spent his summers in Gustavus, Alaska working at The Gustavus Inn, a 2010 James Beard America’s Classics Award Winner. There, he worked side by side with the chef – being a prep cook, gardening, washing dishes, driving a van, and learning how to do just about everything! Pan remarked, “It was the first time I’d been outside of my comfort zone – getting fish straight from the ocean, growing vegetables in a very short summer. It was eye-opening to work with vegetables straight out of the ground, and learn the difference between something processed. I now have a great appreciation for fresh veg – from seed to harvest. When I think of the fresh (and small!) strawberries there, they were so potent and delicious. It changes how you think of foods.”

Pan moved to the Gulf Coast in 2013, and had the honor of working for Chef Bill Briand of Fishers Orange Beach as well as working for Eric Beech of Brick and Spoon. He worked very long days for 14 months, and then made a big life decision. In 2015, he and his wife launched Orange Beach Concierge, one of the only private dining services in the Orange Beach area. He said that there is a big fear to step out on your own, and lose the stability of a full-time job.

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters RecipeHowever, he’s doing many private events, and loving it. From private chef work to themed weddings (a recent Greek-themed wedding saw him making gyros meat from scratch, as well as kebabs, hummus, tabbouli, and every kind of traditional Greek food – and they loved it) and smaller events. When he described his menus, well, I started thinking about a trip down south. He’s very talented – and creative. His kitchen at Orange Beach Concierge specializes in locally sourced, organic and sustainable ingredients whenever possible – and that that healthy dining should and CAN BE convenient – as well as affordable.

I asked (as a former Minnesotan myself) what changed about his cooking, when he moved south. He laughed, and said he couldn’t help but be influenced by the South! A man after my own travel heart, he said that “one of the greatest parts of traveling and cooking is that you are influenced by that area, and you take it with you in your education and life experience. I never want to stop – I always want to travel and eat and learn as much as I can about foods (especially locally sourced) and different places.”

I also queried him about what new foods he loves, living down south. Don’t be surprised that he answered fresh seafood, especially  oysters. He shared how delicate they are, and how sensitive they are to the environment that they grow in. Pan also noted that with the longer growing season (than Alaska, for sure, but also Minnesota), the agricultural environment in Alabama is abundant and great. The corn is amazing, and there is definitely a bbq scene (I laughed when he said that chefs “have to be on your game because many bbq critics will let you know if you know how to cook pork or not. I passed the pork test…”).

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe
Boeuf Bourguignon with Roasted Garlic Pomme Purée, Chef David’s way. Traditional French Cooking for the current times. This is the winning dish for the FLAVOR category at #thewharfuncorked2016.

Pan earned the Flavor Award at the Wharf Uncorked Food & Wine Festival in Orange Beach. His style is traditional French cooking for current times; his winning dish was a Boeuf Bourguignon with Roasted Garlic Pomme Purée. Held in mid-September, the three day event combined tastings of delicious food and tantalizing wines, live entertainment, a pinch of southern flare, and a dash of Gulf Coast hospitality.

Chef Pan is relatively new to the coast but his culinary impact is already well known by his peers. His new storefront (a commercial kitchen, located at The Wharf), is available by appointment only for events, private chef table dinners, and more. Did you know that the Orange Beach area has about 5,000 year-round denizens, but over 6 million people visit from Memorial Day to Labor Day? That’s some kind of crazy tourist season (imagine private cheffing during the busy season!), and also influences his cooking the rest of the year, he noted. I expect we’ll hear much more about this innovatibve, interesting chef, who cares deeply for his fellow cooks, as well as his (lucky!) clientele.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
16 years

What is your favorite food to cook?
Roasting and brining proteins

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
Butter, cream, and Wickles pickles

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters RecipeWhat do you cook at home?
Ramen – I use the noodles to make sticky noodles…never use the packet

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
Willingness to be open and try new foods

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
Taking issue with others without bringing it to me first. I can make anyone more pleased if I know there is an issue

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
Rubbermaid

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
Cocktail

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

Your favorite cookbook author?
Thomas Keller

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My tongs

Your favorite ingredient?
Kosher salt

Your least favorite ingredient?
Bouillon

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Peel potatoes – I am allergic

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
French, Mediterranean, and Vietnamese

Beef, chicken, pork, or tofu?
Pork (Bacon)

Favorite vegetable?
Carrots

Chef you most admire?
Francis Mallman

Food you like the most to eat?
Pizza

Food you dislike the most?
Whole olives

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?
None, not sure if I will ever go there.

Recipe: Chargrilled Oysters

i8tonite with Orange Beach Chef David Pan & Chargrilled Oysters Recipe

1 lb butter room temperature
1 large shallot minced
4 garlic cloves minced
1 1/2 fresh lemons squeezed
2 tbsp creole seasoning
1 tbsp fresh thyme chopped
2 tbsp fresh parsley chopped
Hot sauce to taste
Worchestershire sauce, to taste
1/2 cup Parmesan shredded

24 oysters shucked, toss top shell
French bread crostini or favorite saltine crackers to complement

Directions:

Fire grill
Reach 500 degrees and hold
Combine all ingredients except oysters in KitchenAid and mix
1 tbsp of mixture on shucked oyster
Place oysters on grill
Cook for 4 minutes, lid closed
Remove from grill
Squeeze fresh lemon juice on each oyster and serve and enjoy!

– The End. Go Eat. –

 

 

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn Grits

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsIn September 2015, Chef Scott Simpson, along with his partners, opened the seafood restaurant, The Depot in Auburn, Alabama. It’s the  newest dining establishment in a town which is also home to the well-known University of Auburn. Overall, the southern enclave, although small compared to larger urban areas, is home to more than sixty thousand individuals, mostly employed by the liberally based higher learning institution.

It’s a far cry from the Southern California beaches where Simpson grew up and many of the global culinary regions where his chef skills were perfected. For more than a decade, Simpson worked at the JW Marriott, first in Palm Springs and then, cheffing at the property in Quito, Ecuador. He joined Capella Hotel Group, luxury hotelier, as the opening chef for many of their new global properties. He skillfully crafted menus for the room and boards’ restaurants in Mumbai, Bali, Mexico, Singapore, the Caribbean, and domestically, in the United States south including Washington D.C, Virginia Beach, and then to Auburn. At each global stop, Simpson acquired cooking nuances used in each cuisine.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsSimpson says of The Depot, “It’s not Auburn’s normal cuisine. The area hasn’t had global food, so our objective was for the eating experience to be educational yet still be identifiable as having Southern roots.”

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsHoused in a former train station, The Depot was reincarnated as a restaurant, a Southern hospitality showcase to its Victorian birth and former life as a transportation hub. Original black and white tiled floors have a polished sheen, a massive shining chandelier dusts a warm glow over the tufted, leather booths and wooden tables. It’s breathtaking food hall for Simpson to display his virtuosity, skillfully turning the former rail station into a delicious seafood brasserie. From the menu descriptions, there’s an international traveler and culinary master manning the stove, with the flash fried cobia wings served with a buffalo buerre blanc, blackened amberjack with a hoppin’ john risotto, short rib osso buco with an ancho demi glaze. Each item plucked  is an ode to the Deep South combined with an international flavor.

With The Depot under Simpson’s adroit cookery talent, Auburn may have a destination restaurant to rival any of the big cities. Luckily, for the college town, Simpson is calling it home.

CHEF QUESTIONNAIRE (with a nod to Proust): 

How long have you been cooking?  Since I was 8. I have a picture of me on a chair so I could reach the stove and first cooked an omelet.

What is your favorite food to cook? Super fresh Seafood (It’s also my favorite NOT to cook – nothing like a delicious crudo or sashimi).

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsWhat do you always have in your fridge at home? Kerrygold butter, fresh garlic, cilantro, Hass avocados, lemons. Local farm eggs, cooked rice, raw tortillas, an array of international condiments ,and at least 3 distinct varieties of cheeses and some Albarino chilling.

What do you cook at home? “Somma Pasta” – I like to open my fridge and make a simple and spontaneous some-of-this and some-of-that dish. I love making creative pasta dishes. I received formal culinary training in Florence, and pasta is always a comforting and quick dish to make.

What marked characteristic(s) do you love in a customer? Adventuresome diners eager to step outside their norm and willing to trust me to introduce them to a new flavor or dish. Sharing guests who have enough appetite to keep tasting and tasting and sharing dish after dish at their table. AppreciativeI love customers who understand this is my artwork, I crave feedback and comments, I am always waiting to hear their honest assessment of the dish.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsWhat marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer? I confess I am disappointed in those guests who come in, smile, and say “everything was so wonderful and delicious,” and then terrorize you later that week on Social Media.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex? We use clear square Cambro’s in the restaurant to be more space efficient and reduce potential breakage. At home, my wife and I like more eco-friendly, Pyrex style glass containers. They don’t get scratched from scrubbing or stained from a curry or a Spicy tomato sauce.

Beer, wine, or cocktail? Wine: I spent a lot of my life working in restaurants with amazing wine cellars. I am totally spoiled and have a strong appreciation for the pleasure of wine with food. Plus, I’ve never read a Bible story of Jesus changing water into anything else but wine.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsYour favorite cookbook author? I really respect the meticulous research and commitment to the authenticity of chefs like Rick Bayless or Marcella Hazan. Many other chefs throw all that out the window in order to market a gimmicky twist. Many longstanding recipes and techniques are the way they are for a reason.

Your favorite kitchen tool?  Tasting spoons.

Your favorite ingredient? I think Garlic is delicious in most anything and the same for a squeeze of fresh lemon…and never underestimate the difference a great sea salt like Maldon makes.

Your least favorite ingredient? Sugar!

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen? Waste something.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsFavorite types of cuisine to cook? I really enjoy cooking Latin inspired dishes. Certainly I remain humbled by true Indian Cuisine. Still I try to satisfy myself with a semblance of Indian cooking I enjoyed there while working with some of the very best Chefs in all of India.

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu? I love them all, but beef is hands down what I most often crave – after fresh seafood. I start salivating when I see a tender juicy medium-rare steak. Fewer things are more satisfying than slicing into a perfectly cooked piece of properly aged, high-quality, well-marbled meat.

Favorite vegetable? Super tough question! Frequently I incorporate exotic mushrooms, or eggplant, which enhances many dishes. Also, I enjoy a very simple side of Sea Salt Maple Roasted Carrots that we pair with our Pecan Brown Butter Trout. Right now, I’m featuring some delicious Malabar spinach, rainbow chard, and Red Mustard frills, which are fresh and seasonal here in Auburn, Alabama.

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn GritsChef you most admire? I admire Jamie Oliver, simple pure style of cooking, his obvious, passionate enjoyment of cooking. More importantly, he aspires to more than selfish glory or feeding his own pocketbook – he puts his popularity and voice to much better use.

Food you like the most to eat? I enjoy bold spicy flavors. The cuisine of the Sun and Sea.

Food you dislike the most? Unauthentic, “mis-prepared” or ruined ethnic specialties.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food? My art is all edible.

 

Recipe: Chef Scott Simpson’s Blue Corn Grits

i8tonite: Chef Scott Simpson from Auburn, Alabama’s The Depot and Blue Corn Grits

Ingredients:

  • 2 teaspoons kosher salt
  • 1 qt. water
  • 1 cup stone-ground grits
  • 2 ½ tablespoons butter
  • 2 ½ tablespoons mascarpone
  • Crumbled artisan bleu cheese to taste

Preparation

1. Bring salt and water to a boil in a heavy saucepan over high heat. Whisk in grits, and cook, whisking constantly, 45 seconds. Scrape bottom and sides of the pot.
2. Return to a boil; cover and reduce heat to medium-low. Cook 20 to 25 minutes or until tender. (For a looser consistency, whisk in 2 to 4 Tbsp. water halfway through cooking.)
3. Stir in butter and mascarpone until fully melted. Garnish with artisan crumbled bleu cheese and serve immediately.

The end. Go eat.

(All photos courtesy of The Depot)

i8tonite with St. John’s, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

Chef Mark McCrowe, Food Day Canada 2015
Chef Mark McCrowe at Food Day Canada 2015

I first met Chef Mark McCrowe at RANL‘s Food Day Canada event in St. John’s, Newfoundland, on my very first day in town. Held in a large ballroom, the event showcased several dozen chefs from around Canada – and some extraordinary local dishes. Newfoundland is in the middle of a culinary renaissance – so much good food, so many excellent and creative chefs, and an eat local ethic that is impressive, given the northern Atlantic locale on an island called The Rock.

I was impressed with his presentation and flavor of his dish – a salt beef and potato crusted cod with mustard pickle puree, collard greens, and a whelk beurre blanc sauce. It was the perfect introduction to Newfoundland.

 

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

Mark was born and raised in St. John’s, NL. Growing up around simple Newfoundland dishes, using fresh seafood and wild game, inspired an appreciation of the local style of food and where it comes from. After studying culinary and baking and pastry arts in British Columbia and working in some of Van city’s best kitchens, he returned home to further his own individual style as a chef. Mark opened his first restaurant, Aqua, at the age of 26 and his second more casual gastropub, The Club, at the age of 29. Mark is living his dream: cooking the food he loves to cook and doing it in the place and for the people that mean so much to him…………Happy cooking!!

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

Find him in St. John’s, Newfoundland, at EVOO in the Courtyard.

Chef’s Questionnaire (with a nod to Proust):

How long have you been cooking?
Since I was about 13. I would record all the Wok With Yan episodes on VHS and recreate them for my family. Still my favourite show!

What is your favorite food to cook?
I’m obsessed with the wide variety of flavours and ingredients in Asian food, but I like to work my way around the globe though ingredients without ever spending the money to travel :p

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe

What do you always have in your fridge at home?
I use way too much sambal olek and sriracha.

What do you cook at home?
I’m a one pot wonder kinda guy. I like simple flavourful food and dislike doing the dishes.

What marked characteristic do you love in a customer?
I like when customers are having fun and are just plain into what they are eating. Life is too short to be a stuffy loser.

What marked characteristic do you find unappealing in a customer?
You never know what kind of day someone has had or what they may be going through in their personal life, but there is never an excuse for treating a server like garbage.

Tupperware, Rubbermaid, or Pyrex?
I’m all about the ziplock, baby.

Beer, wine, or cocktail?
All of the above, please.

Your favorite cookbook author?
Jacques Pepin is and always will be.

Your favorite kitchen tool?
My hands

Your favorite ingredient?
Pork and pork related products

Your least favorite ingredient?
Kiwi (I’m allergic)

Least favorite thing to do in a kitchen?
Inventory

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
Catching Capelin

Favorite types of cuisine to cook?
I adore so many types of food. What really interests me is the simple recipes using local Newfoundland ingredients that my grandparents would use. I always like applying them to modern day cooking.

 

Beef, chicken, pork or tofu?
Pork with tofu, if I could

Favorite vegetable?
Onion

Chef you most admire?
Shaun Hussey of Chinched bistro in St.John’s, Newfoundland. He’s a good friend and the type of chef that is always pushing himself. The real deal.

Food you like the most to eat?
I like anything you have to get into and eat with your hands…like a platter of Newfoundland seafood with lobster and crab.

Food you dislike the most?
I hate food that looks to pretty to eat and is too smart for its own good. Sometimes a tomato is nicer than a tomato gel.

How many tattoos? And if so, how many are of food?i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
I do have “Jiggs dinner” tattooed on my forearm. It is the quintessential Newfoundland one pot meal that involves salt beef and root vegetables. It’s my death row last meal and by far the most popular dish from Newfoundland, but my Nan makes it the best, so everyone else is out of luck!

 

Recipe: Newfoundland Seafood Chowder with Roasted Fennel, Dill, and Evaporated Milk

i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
Newfoundland Seafood Chowder

This chowder is a canvas to show off some of the Rock’s best seafood. You can use whatever you have available here. The flavors of roasted fennel, dill, and lemon really make it special – and by using evaporated milk, you really get that authentic chowder flavour.
Serves: 10-12 portions

FOR THE CHOWDER
½ cup unsalted butter
½ cup all purpose-flour
1 onion (diced)
2 stalks celery (diced)
2 heads fennel (diced)
2 potatoes (diced)
¼ cup Pernod
1 cup dry white wine
1 litre fish stock
½ litre heavy cream
2 cans evaporated milk
½ cup chopped dill
5 tbsp lemon juice
3 dashes Tabasco
3 dashes Worcestershire
Salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup cold water shrimp (peeled)
1 lb fresh cod
½ lb mussels
½ lb clams
1 lb cooked lobster meat
½ lb cooked snow crab meat

In a large roasting tray, mix the diced fennel with 4 tbsp of olive oil, salt, pepper and roast in a 400 degree oven until lightly caramelized. In a large heavy bottomed pot, melt the butter and flour together, forming a roux, and cook for 2 minutes.

Add all of the vegetables and cook them for roughly 5 minutes or until translucent. Add the roasted fennel and deglaze the pot with the pernod and white wine while stirring constantly.

Add the remaining liquids, bring to a boil, and reduce to a simmer to cook slowly for roughly 30 minutes or until the vegetables are soft and the soup has slightly thickened. Season with salt, pepper and add all the seafood to cook for just a couple of minutes. In a separate pan, cook the mussels and clams with 2 cups of the chowder base until the shells open, then add back into the main pot. At the last minute before serving, add the fresh dill and adjust the seasoning.

Recipe: Lemon Pepper Smoked Cod and Crispy Britches with Mint, Lemon, and Green Pea Risotto

Lemon Pepper Smoked Cod and Crispy Britches with Mint, Lemon, and Green Pea Risotto. i8tonite with St. John's, Newfoundland Chef Mark McCrowe & Seafood Chowder Recipe
Lemon Pepper Smoked Cod and Crispy Britches with Mint, Lemon, and Green Pea Risotto

Cod britches are the roe sac of a female cod and are named for their resemblance to a pair of baggy trousers. In this dish, we smoke cod loin with lemon zest and cracked pepper, fry the cod britches till crispy, and serve it on top of a creamy mint and pea risotto. So good!
Serves: 4

FOR THE LEMON PEPPER SMOKED COD
1-8 oz cod loin
1 lemon (zested)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup wood chips (soaked in water)

To smoke the cod loins, put the woodchips in the bottom of a frying pan or wok and put it over a burner on medium heat. Once it starts to smoke take the cod loin and sprinkle it with the lemon zest and cracked pepper. Place on a rack that can fit in the frying pan. By this time there should be quite a bit of smoke, so you want to cover it tightly with tinfoil to capture all that smoke. Let them go for about 10-12 minutes, then take them off the heat. The cod should be flakey and cooked through.

FOR THE CRISPY BRITCHES
2 cod britches (cut into small pieces)
Sea salt
Cracked black pepper
1 cup all-purpose flour
Canola oil for frying

Season the cod britches and dust them in the flour, shaking off any excess. Fry them in a household deep fryer set at 375 degrees until golden brown. Drain on paper towel and season again with sea salt.

FOR THE MINT, LEMON, AND GREEN PEA RISOTTO
5 to 6 cups fish stock
4 Tbsp unsalted butter
1 onion (finely diced)
Sea salt
2 cups arborio rice
1/2 cup dry white wine
2 cups frozen peas
1/3 cup chopped fresh mint
2 Tbsp fresh lemon juice
1 Tbsp finely grated lemon zest
1/4 cup freshly grated Parmigiano Reggiano

Heat the fish stock in a saucepan over medium-high heat until very hot and then reduce the heat to keep the broth hot.

In another heavy saucepan, melt 2 Tbsp of the butter over medium heat. Add the onion and a generous pinch of salt and sautée, stirring occasionally with a wooden spoon, until the onion softens and starts to turn lightly golden, 3 to 5 min. Add the rice and stir until the grains are well coated with butter and the edges become translucent, 1 to 2 min. Pour in the wine and stir until it’s absorbed, about 1 min.

Add another generous pinch of salt and ladle enough of the hot broth into the pan to barely cover the rice, about 1 cup. Bring to a boil and then adjust the heat to maintain a lively simmer. Cook, stirring occasionally, until the stock has been mostly absorbed, 2 to 3 min. Continue adding broth in 1/2-cup increments, stirring and simmering, until it has been absorbed each time, at intervals of about 2 to 3 min. After about 16 to 18 minutes, the rice should be creamy but still fairly firm.

At this point, add the peas and another 1/2 cup broth. Continue to simmer and stir until the peas are just cooked and the rice is just tender to the tooth, another 3 to 4 min. Stir in another splash of broth if the risotto is too thick. Remove the pot from the heat and stir in the mint, lemon juice, lemon zest, the remaining 2 Tbsp butter, and the Parmigiano. Season with salt to taste.

Serve the risotto immediately with a sprinkling of chopped mint and grated lemon zest. Top with some crispy britches, flakes of the smoked cod loin and Bob’s your uncle.

 

-The End. Go Eat.-