HOT DISH: What’s New and Hot at Home for Beard-Bound Chefs

BY September 16, 2015


Five top local chefs will make Southwest Florida proud on Friday, Oct. 2, by cooking up a “Coastal Florida Feast” at New York City’s prestigious James Beard House. The event is sold out; however, should you be up north and want to see if squeezing into a seat in the esteemed dining room—the food-world equivalent of catching a movie at Grauman’s Chinese Theater—is an option, click here. The team intends to recreate the menu in our neck of the woods as a fundraiser for local charities in the coming year. We’ll keep you posted on that, but in the meantime, here’s a taste of what each is up to right now on the Gulfshore.…  

NORMAN LOVE: The chocolatier put together the Beard feast, drawing on the success of his Norman Love Confections on the national stage. In addition to seeing booming online sales and increasing his product line, the company has enjoyed steady growth in Southwest Florida, opening chocolate salons throughout the region and forming a plethora of retail partnerships. There’s also still time to catch the last of his yearly off-season classes if you act now.

HAROLD BALINK: As soon as he's back from New York, he’s set to open Harold's, an eclectic American bistro featuring local produce and meat from Rosy Tomorrows Heritage Farm. It’s a project he’s been working on since selling his majority share in Cru this summer to the restaurant’s general manager. “Cru is a big animal and it’s really fun, but the thought of doing something on a smaller scale was pretty intriguing to me,” says Balink, who, it must be said, left the Bell Tower Shops eatery on the best of terms. (“I told them whatever I can do to help, I will,” he adds. “I want it to continue to be successful.”)



​FABRIZIO AIELLI: On the heels of opening a second Sea Salt in St. Petersburg, he and his team have been tweaking the Naples flagship to remain at the head of the pack of downtown hotspots. Aside from its new lounge, Sea Salt in Naples is the only restaurant in the area importing goliath tambaqui fish from the Amazon. The unique dish is prepped and served like, wait for it, lamb chops or baby backs (i.e., fish ribs—you’ve got to see it to believe it!).


GEORGE FISTROVICH: He’s technically the executive chef of The Ritz-Carlton Resorts of Naples, but the hotels may soon need to change his title to include hydroponic farmer or gardener-in-chief because his latest project has been raising an acre of produce inside a futuristic farm parked at the beach property. He plans to serve his early crops to guests in the resort’s Terrazza restaurant shortly after returning from New York and roll out more of the just-picked herbs and veggies to the other eateries during season.





TODD JOHNSON: His Rumrunners, a behemoth indoor-outdoor upscale casual spot on a quiet mangrove-lined canal in Cape Coral, has continued to make big waves and win praise since it debuted more than a decade ago—including an upcoming honor from this magazine in our October issue hitting mailboxes and newsstands soon (click here to subscribe). Stay tuned!



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