Monday, Jun 24, 2019

the restaurants

In Churchill’s we’re moving in to elevate the offerings, creating more variety with key items like the grouper dishes, lobster, we have a special lobstertini cocktail that we’re coming out with with lobster, papaya, a lot of the local spices and flavorings. We’re going to move with a nice conch dish that we’ve introduced to the menu as a steakhouse style appetizer, and we’ve increased our cuts of meat so now we have a more diverse range of meat elements that we will be introducing in Churchill’s-we’re going to reintroduce back the Porterhouse steak as well as the T-Bone steak, as well as a Sirloin cut on the bone which is actually a Kansas City Cut, so those are the three main items that we will introduce along with the key local offerings like lobster, conch, grouper dishes, snapper dishes. We will use the actual local mutton snapper and create special menu offerings with that.

With the dry aged beef, basically two percent of it around the world is prime aged and we’re looking to use that in Churchill’s. It’s a more costly meat item, but if you’re going to run a good steakhouse that’s what the clients who are in the know want, because the flavor is more intense, and it produces a more tender and higher quality meat product.

At Iries, they have Bahamian flavor everywhere. Iries used to be a Caribbean restaurant featuring food from The Bahamas and other Caribbean islands–Trinidad, Cuba, Barbados–and one of the key requests we actually had from our guests was we’re in The Bahamas, the restaurant is mere feet from the ocean, how come you don’t have a seafood restaurant on property, so two years ago we revamped and marketed Iries as not a Caribbean restaurant, but a local seafood restaurant, with a local flare, and 98 percent of the dishes featured local items cooked in a more modern way. Even Iries is going to go through a menu reformat, because we want to introduce some local pasta dishes to the menu. We want to be able to take the clientele that want a lighter dish, but don’t want the seafood, to experience some conch ravioli, some penne with lobster and these type of offerings, and we will utilize a lot of papaya, mango on the menu. But as the menu stands now, we’ve been very creative in featuring local items.

Irie’s is broken down into five rooms and the construction of it was based around homey, comfort food, as if you’ve been invited into someone’s home, so instead of one big space, it’s broken down into different areas. We also have a nice open bar with patio seats on the terrace, and you can dine in or eat.

Prop Club is a unique sports bar with a unique menu which has been in place approximately three-and-a-half months. What we tried to do was get away from the traditional Americanized sports bar menu, and we actually tried to take the menu and keep it in the theme of the restaurant as a sports bar, but creating local sports bar product like macaroni and cheese, sweet potato fries. We have the best conch chowder around and it’s served with miniature Johnny cakes. You go to a lot of sports bars and you get a fajita, well we have a conch fajita, even the pizzas we have regatta. At this property, the food is unique in comparison to some of the bigger hotels around The Bahamas, and we basically created them from in-house recipes and in-house standards.

China Beach and China Grill-the grill is a casual outdoor eatery right on the ocean overlooking the pool, and that’s our AM outdoor spot for lunch if you want to be outside on the beach. We feature more light fare offerings-more beach food, light salads, and then you go indoors to China Beach which is an open-air kitchen and very creatively designed. You can actually see the chef preparing stuff like sushi, see them cooking on the wok, the tepanyaki station, appetizer station. With China Beach, we’ve also been able to take local items, we have conch on the menu with sushi, we’re serving grouper in there, snapper, lobster, cooked with an Asian flair, stuff with coconut milk, curried items, we use lots of mango, island crab meat, so the food is based on traditional Asian fare, but we’ve added local offerings to the menu.

Willy Broadleafs is our buffet restaurant, where we have action stations–pancakes, waffles, French toast, coconut French toast, cold cereals and fresh fruit and this restaurant during season, various nights based on occupancy, where we will actually have themed buffets in there–Caribbean, Italian, international buffets, and one of our key features in there currently is over the last few months we’ve started to build a strong local market with Sunday brunch. If you’re in Grand Bahama and you ask where to go for Sunday brunch, Our Lucaya and Willy Broadleaf is the place, and the Sunday brunch features about 65 percent localized items and 35 percent international menu items, that’s inclusive of salads, pastries, entrees and every Sunday we have a themed action station in Willy Broadleafs, whether it’s Italian, Asian, a Mexican station, not only are we offering local food, but we’re educating the locals on the different types of cuisine and they can still come in and have comfort with their own favorites.

What we’re doing with these outlets is try to capture the bigger markets which we’ve done with our brunch and Bahamian nights. Iries, the Prop Club we actually have that marketed locally for college football game day, Sunday all day NFL and Monday Night Football, where the community folk know about it, and can come and have good food prices and drink prices. Our new focus now is trying to target the a la carte dining restaurants outside of special occassions like Mother’s Day, Father’s Day, birthdays, Valentine’s, anniversaries-just come and have a meal or sit on the bar, so we’ve launched the Happy Hour on a Friday in the Irie’s bar area. During the winter months they will have all their restaurants open from a three to five-day cycle, and all open on Friday and Saturday nights, so that the locals can see that the price point isn’t beyond what they want to pay.

 Churchill’s recently went through a menu relaunch for the winter season, bringing more udated elements and offerings to the cuisine. The new menu launch coincided with the United States Thanksgiving holiday).

A number of the Our Lucaya dining establishments like Irie’s, Prop Club and China Beach also went through the same process to keep their menu offerings exciting and to live up to Chef Clare’s lofty standards for the resort which is to offer dining experiences and menus that set his resort aside from the major competition in Nassau and around The Bahamas.

IRIES RESTURANT

Chef Norris”Boxer”McPhee-head chef at Iries Seafood Restaurant-I’ve been here since 1997. I be from restaurant to restaurant. 59 years old.

Classic menu with Bahamian influences-Grouper chowder-I figured we should be as close as possible to represent The Bahamas, so I thought about it, went home and thought about it and I came up with the Grouper Chowder Okra blanched, shocked to keep green color for texture, then potatoes, heavy cream, carrots, celery, crispy potatoes to garnish with a pinch of lobster stock, boil the shell to carry the lobster flavor all through, a little roux to put body to it, but not too much, because the cream is a thickener in itself. It’s simple, but delicious, and one of his biggest sellers. The flavor is extraordinary. When you taste it you don’t really taste the fish and that’s not what you want. It’s a smooth chowder. I make the soup first, saute the pieces of grouper for a few seconds, so I don’t allow it to overcook.

The slow-baked lobster with sweet potato veggies and an assorted julienne of veggies zucchini, squash, which is Irie’s style. Iries style is different. It’s Caribbean. Even down to the carrots, everything goes into a pan, fresh and raw, is tossed with a little butter and boom, boom, boom, it’s on the plate. The sweet potato we pre-boil, flash fry them in olive oil and that’s it. That type of yam is very tender. The flavor really combines with timing. The dishes are quick and easy to prepare but everything has to be mise en place.

When I did the menu, it took about two weeks to produce the menu which I sent to the executive chef Dwain Clare for approval.

What should people expect of Iries?

Local flavor, because we use fresh herbs. Everything is fresh at Iries to get our flavor. Chef’s recommendation-Everything is good, but my main starter is the grouper chowder or the corn and plaintain fritter which was fabulous. The corn and plaintain are chunked and put into the batter and fried-cinnamon is in there, and sweet with the plaintain. I was just thinking Bahamian straight through. Even with the lobster, it was brushed with a herb/plaintain butter, and the sirlon steak also comes with herb butter with veggie and potato hash. I grate the fresh potato, chop the fresh veg and mix it into a hash which I place beneath the sirloin steak.

We also have an airline chicken breast which is very nice, stuffed with herb and chorizo sausage and stuffing, served with garlic roasted mash, which is freshly made like everything else we do. We boil the potatoes with the skin on and boil the garlic with that at the same time, so that when it’s time to mash, everything is mashed together.

The tastebuds build as you get the menu and start to stroll through the menu, it provides excitement to the mouth. The menu is the way it is because it’s mind-boggling. In the fritter is corn, plantain, baking powder, not too much because you don’t want it too light, a pinch of salt, make like a fritter batter and fry. It comes with a plantain chip and roasted corn garnish. My favorite is the trio-grilled scallop, shrimp and salmon. It comes with conch and rice and I use either red beans or pigeon peas. The way it’s cooked you have to acquire a taste for it.

Food philosophy?

McPhee is a native of Exuma, and he loves French cuisine. He says he has cooked it the majority of his life, and most of his cooking years were spent in kitchens cooking French and Italian cuisine. One of the reason you should come to Iries is it’s different and it’s a mixture of Bahamian flavors in Iries. If you want to experience the tastes of The Bahamas you need to come to Iries.

CHURCHILL’S

Chef Neil Rolle chef de cuisine-Churchill’s had its reopening on Thanksgiving Day. Has been with the restaurant since it opened in 2000. I actually started as a line chef de partie. The staples which are the meats are basically the same, but we try to switch up the seafood, the appetizers. From then to now, the quality has gotten better. We have more aged meat, the quality has gotten better, we get fresher seafood. All the steaks are aged at least 27 days. When you age the meat you give it a stronger, richer beef flavor. It makes the meat more tender, more flavorful and that beefy taste really shines. We started out serving aged beef and never differentiated from that.

The lobstertini is new-it’s flavored with fresh key limes, fresh basil, grilled asparagus tips, fresh lobster. We don’t poach the lobster, because doing that tends to leave a lot of the lobster flavor in the liquid, so we roast the lobster, cool it down, then pull it and make the lobstertini, Roasted lobster has to have a more intense lobster flavor as oppossed to poaching it, which leaves some of the lobster flavor in the liquid, but you want all of the lobster flavor to stay in the lobster. You get the sweetness from the lobster, the charred flavor from the grilled asparagus. It’s excitement, and that’s what you want when you eat.

With the harvest salad you get a lot of different flavors-the sweetness from the nectarines, a little smoky flavor from the roasted corn, a little spicyness from the peppercorn ranch, and the Cajun spiced nuts and the cooling part from the cucumber. The flavor is the bomb.

The crab cakes we revamped and are using fresh lump crabmeat and we try to use the least filling that we possibly can to ensure that it’s really intense with the crab flavor. The cucumber and tomato relish is kind of sweet and the citrus remoulade is kind of spicy. That is a good crab cake by itself and with the relish and remoulade it was decadent. It’s a richer crab cake than we’re serving before.

Their lobster bisque is a steakhouse staple and is cooked darker than you would normally see. They leave it that way to allow their customers to lighten it up to their liking by stirring in the dollop of creme fraiche that is served on top of it.

We dry the mushrooms and blend them and create it to almost a powder, dried shiitake mushrooms and we make a crust of it on the grouper. Grouper because we’re in The Bahamas-why not grouper. The grouper is served with a mango reduction which works well with the grouper and cuts the coarseness of the fish.

The dry aged steak, the flavor was absolutely divine it was so rich.

Dry aging occurs while the beef is hanging in a refrigerated cooler, at a specific temperature and humidity, for 10 to 28 days after harvest and prior to cutting.

When beef is dry aged two things happen. First, moisture evaporates from the muscle creating a greater concentration of beefy flavor and taste. Secondly, the beef’s natural enzymes break down the fibrous, connective tissue in the muscle, tenderizing it. Most of the tenderizing activity occurs in the the first 10 to 14 days.

Some high quality restaurants age their meat for 28 days or more. Increased aging adds to the shrinkage and trim loss due to the drying and surface mold.

Nassauvians need to hop on a plane and head to Churchill’s for dinner. We also feature salmon it’s a lighter dish we serve it grilled with a roasted corn salsa, so we wanted a lighter fish to have something lighter on the menu.

Rolle leads Churchill’s into a new year rolling out a new menu with new influences. I’ve been back and forth from Churchill’s. I started out here as chef de partie, before I went into another restauarant as sous chef. This is his third time in Churchill’s. Every time we open we put out a new menu. This is more special this time because of the ingredients. This is our signature restaurant, so we use the highest quality meat and seafood we can possibly get. We spare no expense and people should come expecting to be wowed.

I got into cooking because my mother was a cook in small restaurants. I actually got into it almost a a mistake after high school, then I began to like it. It grew on me, and here I am 16 years later. His restaurant sits 132 at its max.

The restaurant is elegant, but not to the point of being uncomfortable. It’s casual, but elegant, but no slippers, no shorts-a nice pair of slacks and a nice shirt and have a five-star meal. I expect for us to do well and we strive to do well. The locals need to get in here more.

The beef will have that nice strong aged flavor. The fish is going to be fresh and we don’t too much to the fish so you get the flavors of the fish, we want you to taste the freshness of the seafood.

We also offer double cut pork chops and lamb chops and a braised short rib on the menu. The prices in comparison would be worth it for the price you pay and the quality. The menu is basically small-two soups, three hot appetizers, two salads, three fish, lobster and 10 different cuts of beef. It’s quite an offering, but still compact where we can maintain quality control.

My food philsophy is give it to me fresh and you will get it back fresh.

The chef’s recommendation is lobstertini to start, crab cake and the rib eye chop. Sides include golden mashed potatoes with a hint of roasted garlic, broccoli crowns, asparagus with hollondaise, sauted wild mushrooms, hand cut black pepper french fries, and baked tomatoes-classic steakhouse sides, done quality. Churchill’s is the hidden gem of The Bahamas. It’s romantic. They have a table that overlooks the water, and the chef says he can’t imagine anything more romantic than sitting at that table against the glass looking out over the water and eating your food and watching the sun go down. Ruth Chris, Shula’s Morton’s-Churchill’s would be right there. Chef Rolle is 32.

I used to work with my mom on weekends. I used to go with her to the restaurants just to go.

Andrianna Lightbourne 36-head pastry chef at Our Lucaya-Responsible for all pastries that comes out of this property going to 11 outlets and a hectic schedule. We have two coffee shops so we provide breakfast pastries that are served in the mornings from 6 to 11, then we rotate the shift and for the afternoons, we put pastries cakes, tarts, fresh fruit tarts, eclairs and that runs until they close at 6 p.m. And then we have our main outlets, that get desserts for their menus, and also the buffets and we have Bahamian night buffet and Sunday brunch and they get a wide variety of pastries and most of those buffets are rotational, so it’s a rotational menu that we do, and then we have banquet which is a big event because there are a lot of events that we do, breakfast, lunch plate ups.

Right now I have a staff of seven, and we do quite a lot. My days start maybe about 8:30 a.m., some mornings I do come in like 4 a.m. or 5 a.m. if I need to do something without being disturbed, but most times 8:30 a.m. and by 7 p.m. I try to wind down. On the weekends I work later because the buffets are on the weekend.

I have always had a passion for cooking. My mother cooked and she was always entertaining, and she was always very creative with us. We grew up having prime rib, she would go through the cookbooks and make the most fancy dishes for us and me and my brother were the two that actually took to cooking. I went to college to study medicine but I decided I went to cook, went to Florida Culinary in West Palm Beach and went to cook, so I did a culinary degree and in doing that I did some baking courses, and after doing that I found I really liked it and decided to specialize in that, so I did the baking degree, so I did more advanced courses, cakes, wedding cakes, French pastry. The bread pudding has an oatmeal almond crumb topping almost like a streusel crumb topping to give it a little crunch. This is a Churchill’s dessert. It’s made with our own bread. We make french bread, cut it up, mixed with the peaches and the Melba sauce, we take blackberries, cook it down to make our own sauce and that’s what you see in there, and then we add the eggs, the sugar, the cream and finish with a brandy sauce. The sauce is a basic creme anglaise with Jack Daniels. When I finished college I worked at the Mara-Lago Club in Palm Beach(Donald Trump), and it was excellent. I worked there for six months for that season, and that’s where I learned quite a bit and was truly introduced to a wide scope of products, and presentation, because being that type of establishment everything was top notch and high end. It was really nice. After working there I returned home and worked at Club Fortuna for two years and then I left there because I’d heard about the position at Our Lucaya and wanted to broaden my horizons, because Club Fortuna wasn’t as modernized and I didn’t want to get stuck in one place, and plus Our Lucaya being a bigger resort I wanted to see what it would be like. Club Fortuna only had two restaurants-the buffet and another restaurant, so Our Lucaya had 11 different outlets plus banquet, so it was a challenge and I wanted that. I was only here for a year, then went back to Club Fortuna where I stayed for seven years, actually they downsized and I got laid off. May 31 she returned to Our Lucaya.

I like to work as a team, so even though I’m the department head, I run my pastry shop as one of them We all work together, because I tell them at the end of the day, anything that comes out of here reflects the pastry shop and if people ask who baked this, I say the pastry shop, it’s always a joint effort and getting their input and everyone feels a part of the final product.

Since I came here-they never used to actually taste hardly anything, and I constantly have them testing, because you see that you make it all the time, you think it’s the best, and you think well I don’t have to taste it. Since I’ve been here, we’ve been doing a lot of new things, a lot of things I’m changing, so they have to taste. Really the main thing I did was change their presentation on items, because you have to watch what’s happening in the world especially in the culinary field, and you have to adapt to the modern ways-new ways of presenting items, it’s simple, but still aesthetically looks nice, The first thing I did was adopt a new way to present things-like a chocolate cake, by coating it with a chocolate glaze and glazing half a chocolate strawberry and striping it, and you change the whole plate. Before they would have simply iced it with buttercream, pipped a rosette of whipped cream and put a strawberry on top. It was just basic. I always tell them I like the desserts to look sexy, so I always try to envision, because that is what you sell.

Long term vision

Once you develop your personal style and style of the resort, my thing is to be consistent. As this field things change, adapt which you want to be able to do, and because the field is changing every year, with new styles and new techniques, and that is soemthing I wold love to adopt in here, and it’s all about being creative. I always tell them to go on-line and look up things and pull from it and find new ways to do things, because that’s the only way to enhance your skills in this field.

Coming into the holiday season, you want to give them something fresh. Even with the desserts I started changing things on them. China Beach has a completely new menu, so all of their desserts are new like the Spicy Chocolate Mousse, Mango Panna Cotta.

Iries we haven’t changed as yet, but I have changed the presenation wise. Churchill’s is starting new so all of their desserts are new.

Philosophy?

I like my pastries to look like art. I like people to think should I eat it.

How do you encourage more females to go into pastry?

Society makes it seem that the culinary world is male dominated, once you have a passion for this field, you have to continue to strive and set goals for yourself. I went off to school, ensured that I was properly trained and everyday I continue to train myself so that I can excel, and having that mindset. My mother raised us to always be independent and that it’s not a man’s world and that we can do just as well as they do.

Her all-time favorite dessert is tiramisu, which she can eat by the spoonfuls at a time, and then it would be a creme brulee.

This hotel is beautiful, and she prepares her dessert to match that beauty. In spite of people’s more conscious weight thoughts she finds that somehow they don’t have enough dessert, meaning she certainly has enticed them. I find that somehow we never have enough desserts,a nd the desserts have really been doing well. On a daily basis it varies depending on banquet business, but on an average day she says they do about 100 pieces.

Advice to those who are scared to cream sugar and butter

People are intimidated by baking I think, they just look at it and say I can’t do that, but with anything you do, it’s confidence, and if you have confidence, you can do it, because really if someone gives you a recipe, just follow it and it really should come out if that recipe is right once you follow it according to a recipe. Once you have the basic principles to baking, such as when you’re doing a cake, how to cream your butter and sugar, or not adding liquids to quickly so you don’t break your mixture, or gently folding in egg whites, there’s basic principles, once you know that, theres nothing you can’t bake, especially once you have a recipe.

My life is very busy now which is good. I like having the opportunity to try new things and actually teach the staff new things, so it’s fun and exciting. Baking is fun. Pastries have to have that visual appeal, by having good contrast in colors, nice crisp or crunch, whether a brandy snap or cookie or chocolate, you want it to pop. And when you put it in your mouth you seal the deal with the taste.

Favorite chocolate: milk chocolate Valhrona milk chocolate

Favorite cake: Chocolate-I’m a chocolate lover, my next favorite cake is red velvet.

Favorite duff flavor: Strawberry

Favorite ice cream: Pralines and cream, sweet, salty and nutty

Favorite bread: Sourdough-a nice wheat sourdough

Favorite nut: hazel and macademia

Favorite cookie: Cranberry-oatmeal

Favorite flavor to use in pastries: Coconut-it’s mild, but sometimes you’re not sure if it is cookie.

Favorite icing: Italian buttercream

Favorite tart: Key lime-I’m not too much a coconut or pineapple tart

My palate is more of a tangy. I like tart-type things.

Decorate a fresh fruit cheesecake

First you want to add the sturdier pieces of fruit, we have pineapples so we add that first, there’s no perfect way of placing them, just place them on there. Next we can add the fresh strawberries, because they’re pretty solid too. You always want to put the more delicate fruit on the top. A few pieces come next just for color, next we add berries to fill in the spaces. A good trick to do when you’re doing a fresh fruit cake or cheesecake is to pre-cut the cake, so that once you apply the fruit, you don’t have to worry about cutting it afterwards, cause it’s already done. Then the blueberries are going to be our fillers, going into all the little spots that may be open, so you place them in nicely. Since we have star fruit, slice a few and add them in because they give good dimension, and finish off with an apricot glaze to give the fruit nice shine and helps the fruit stick to the cake. You can get apricot jam out of the store, put a little water into it to dilute it, because sometimes it tends to be thick, and you heat it up in the microwave until it’s loose enough and drizzle it over until it covers all the fruit. and you get flavor. She finishes with a shower of coconut shavings around the edge with coconut shavings, because the white is going to finish balance the colors. And it’s quite simple to do. People can bake a fruit cake and add fresh fruit and it looks absolutely spectacular.

And these are fruits you can regularly get. I also use melons, honeydew, cantaloupe, watermelon

Wintroy Fowler 32, head butcher at Our Lucaya-he oversees four staff in the butcher shop

For the property, the butcher shop department takes care of the staff meal, China Beach, we have, Prop Club, Iries, Willy Broadleaf and Churchill’s and banquet, so that’s seven major outlets that we take care off. Whatever special cuts they need comes through us. How important is the butcher shop to what the guest sees on his plate in the final analysis?

It’s important because of the quality, we can bring in packaged meat, but we don’t know the quality and the age and we don’t know if it’s a fresh cut. We guarantee fresh cut, quality and good service. We cut all of the properties meats. We butcher pork, strip loins, tender loins and cut steaks out of them. Tenderloin is eight and four ounce, strip loin is 10 to 14 ounce, according to the restaurant’s needs.

What do you butcher on a daily basis?Chicken, conch, fish, Nassau grouper, occassionally salmon, tenderloin and strip loin.

I have a lot of brothers(14-15)and sisters(15)also and most of my brothers are in the construction field, my daddy was a builder, and I just didn’t want to follow that trend of the construction line. I got a job at Club Fortuna in the stewarding department for like six months and I noticed they needed a butcher, and from I saw the butcher working, I knew htat was what I wanted to do, so after I’d finish my work early I’d go over and help him and he trained me. Six months later he moved to the head chef position and I moved into the butcher’s spot. I worked there for three years, the time I was there and the different cuts I learned there helped me when I came over to Our Lucaya in 2001 and I stayed here for six years, and we had like seminar after seminar and the more I got the more I wanted, so after a period of time I went over to the food store, where I worked for three-and-a-half years, and it was there that I got to see the difference between the hotel and food store. In the hotel I I was exposed to more variety of cuts. The foodstore, depends on what area you’re in, you’re exposed to only a certain type of cuts. On a regularl people going to the foodstore only looking for lamb chops, pork chops, ribs and chicken, and just a little dazzle of the red meat. But at Our Lucaya, you get portion per ounce.

I also have culinary experience which also helps me with the cutting. While at Club Fortuna I dabbled in Italian dishes like making shrimp fettucine, roux and sauces and grilling a steak, so it helped me in the butcher area because I know how the meat should sit on a plate for presentation. In the hotel, butchers cut for the plate.

Are butchers looking at it as just a job and not a career?

Butchers are a dying breed. This post I’m in at Our Lucaya was open since last October, and I just reach back in July 2010.

Whats the most difficult part about this job?

Keeping a clear head, because if you don’t have a clear head in the butcher’s department, you will lose some fingers, he said showing three cuts on his hands. Having a clear head means not thinking about your day to day problems, just thinking about what’s at hand and dealing with it. Once you sharpen your knife once in the morning, don’t think that halfway through cutting whatever product you cutting beef, chicken or pork, don’t think, you won’t have to resharpen it again. Having a sharp knife in the meat department is very important, because it gives you a cleaner cut, and lets you work faster with less pressure.

He likes all parts of the cow, but His favorite part of the cow is the prime rib.

Basically every animal has the tenderloin, a muscle that is never used. The backbone covers the tenderloin, so because the muscle is never used it’s so tender and that’s where the tenderloin comes from. Once cooked right it will melt in your mouth like cotton candy. If you have whole carcass, a cow cut into is just slightly diferent.

The best part of the lamb comes from the same area as the cow-from the spinal area-the rack of lamb

There are five of the best meat in the world-the number one is ostrich, it’s one of the best. Second to that is the venison, the third is the beef tenderloin, the fouth is rack of lamb with prime rib rounding out the top five. If I go to a restaurant and the chef is in a good mood or bad mood, or if he’s just learning, I don’t care what position he’s in, or how he feels, whatever’s going on, if he cook that good or bad, he can’t mess that up. It’s still coming out good.

How important is the butcher’s job to any restaurant?

It will make or break. A butcher will make or break any organization. If the butcher knows what he’s doing, it’s not just about cutting meat, when it comes down to butchering.

The biggest steak he cuts for Churchill’s is 22 ounce, and it’s the Porterhouse. The smallest cut is a four ounce filet.

What I do for the hotel, my job is to make sure everything comes in fresh and is top quality, and whatever I cut reach the guests’plate fresh. Whatever meat comes into this hotel.

A lot of butchers don’t know how to test fish. They can tell you all day about testing meat, but can’t tell you about fish. Take sea bass, the fish should never be slimy once you run it across it, and fragments of the fish should not come off. Fresh salmon press your thumb into the meat and it should spring right back. If the gill is brightish pink it’s a good salmon, if it’s dark it’s old.

Meat-If you looking for fresh cut it’s bright red. Aged meat won’t be a bright red. It will be dark.

What do you say to people in meat departments around the country to educate themselves more and to not look at it as a job, but as an art.

I thank goodness for the seminars I had at Our Lucaya, because they’ve brought me from one level to a higher level, so they’ve exposed me as a butcher. Butchers should not be complacent. Take the opportunity to travel from job to job to learn new things. The first job I went to I picked up how to cut up ribs, pork chops, lamb chops, chicken. When I got to Our Lucaya it broadened my horizon. If you can get a chance to get into a hotel, get into a high-end resort, and if they have a meat department learn what they know, to resign yourself to a foodstore. They only cut for the area they’re in. In the hotels you get variety.

I have seen the finished products of basically all the meats that come through here, and I have tasted from the Porterhouse for Churchill’s to the sushi in China Beach to the conch chowder at Sunday Brunch, to the cracked conch and porkchops. I am a steak man, so the aged bone-in rib eye is the cut for me. He can eat the full 20-ounce steak, but says afterwards he’s full.

When you go into the foodstores to purchase meats, you must be extremely critical?

He doesn’t purchase pre-cut meats. He purchases meat in bulk and cuts it himself. He purchases whole chickens, ribs by the slab, steak by the striploin.

PROP CLUB SPORTS BAR AND GRILL

Chef Kirkland Russell 43,-head chef-What I try to do with the menu at Prop Club was not to lose the theme of it being a sports bar, recognizing that most of our customers who will come into the restaurant have experienced a sports bar somewhere. What I’ve tried to do was look at the concept used in some of the more high-end sports bars–TGI Friday’s, and I looked at them and saw how to make the menu competitive and appealing to the international customers, but adding local infusion into the dishes. Our grouper dip you would find in the average sports bar, you would have a nacho dip, where you would get your standard . . . and I said we may be good add some nice grouper to this dip, so you would have a nice hearty dip with tortillas, trying it, it was so good, we said we needed something else to absorb the flavors other than the tortilla chip, so we used fried some naan bread to go along with the tortilla, and it’s served bubbling hot in a cast iron pan. A good mound of tortilla chips and naan bread is served with it. It’s not only one of the top sellers, but we have people who come into Prop Club, come back for the grouper dip again and again, and the locals love it. It’s something I would always recommend and I never received a negative comment about it. It’s easy to make if you can make an alfredo sauce, you can make this grouper dip. It’s basically the same concept of making a cream pasta dish.

Saute shallots or onions or whatever you’re using as your base, add fresh herbs, garlic and basil and if you want to put a little thyme in it, that’s fine. And you can substitute tilapia, snapper, bass-whatever fish you want even conch or chicken. It’s a very versatile dish and it’s simple, saute onions, deglaze it with a little wine if you want, add your fish saute it, add heavy cream, bring it to a boil, add cheeses(Parmesan and Cheddar cheeses) are actually what thickens the dish. I like to add the spinach last.

West End Ribs-When we say BBQ ribs locally, everything is out of the bottle and a wet sauce that’s brushed on. But what we wanted to do was bring some real authentic ribs to the restuarant where we created our own dry rub and serve it that way, and the BBQ sauce is used as a dipping sauce.

Cooking times?

Baby back ribs will cook quicker, and in a bar, you don’t mind your fingers getting a little dirty, the three down ribs(pork ribs), that is a better meat for a sports bar, because it has more meat on it. The only difference is it has a little gristle. And then the beef ribs take a little more time. Average cooking time is a minimum of an hour for the baby back ribs, the three down ribs, an hour and a half, and the beef ribs two hours. Living in Miami, I used to get some ribs from these guys who had this big smoker outside, and they would cook ribs all day-24 hours and I always felt that tasted better, and I never ate it with sauce. The only time I ate it with sauce was if I ate a rib sandwich. Also I went to a lot of Miami Hurricanes games and when guys there eat ribs, so that’s where I was introduced to dry rub ribs.

Using a dry rub, you actually get the real flavor of the meat. When you put the sauce on it, you don’t taste the meat you taste the sauce. So even if you dry rub your meat and dip it in the sauce, you actually still taste the meat and you get a better appreciation for the meat. To do this you don’t have to have a grill and the ribs can be made in the oven.

It’s served with pineapple coleslaw as they try to keep it a little tropical. We also serve this same slaw as a topping for our grouper sandwich-so we dredge the grouper in flour, pan-fry it, top it with the cole slaw and squeeze an orange aioli on top. And you taste the flavor because we put a lot of pineapple in the slaw, and it’s good, when I first tried it everyone was like boy you think this will work, they tried it and liked it, and to me it tastes better than putting raisins in the slaw. He also has spinach in the slaw to make it a complete salad. Curry Chicken BLT-I wanted a chicken sandwich, and I wanted a basic BLT sandwich, but not using the processed chicken or turkey, and not just the regular bacon and lettuce and tomatoes. I had this dish for curry pasta dish-same concept, marinate the chicken in milk or heavy cream and some curry, and I said try to the coconut milk and the chicken tasted so good, we threw some bacon, lettuce and tomates on it, we tried it and it tasted good. Most dishes mind you are trial and error and experimenting. And if you understand flavors, you know this would go good with this or that and boom you have a dish. Anything with bacon tastes good to me and actually the different flavors with the curry, if you like curry it tastes like the meal and gives you a little Indian thing going on in your mouth.

Worked at Our Lucaya for 10 years. He likes working buffets, because he likes to create, but has worked in almost every outlet on his property. Likes working in Prop Club because it gives him the opportunity to do some things.

I grew up in a family of cooks. My brother owns a restaurant, I came from a large family of nine, my father was a cook, and I don’t know much of my mother actually cooking or of her food, until we got real old and my father got sick. I’m the baby of nine so I grew up eating everyone else’s food. By the time I was 16 I was cooking–by accident. Mary Nabb was given a mandate to organize a culinary program on Grand Bahama to mirror the one in Nassau, they advertised for a few months, but did not get enough applicants-she got only four, she was told they could not invest the kind of money they wanted for four persons. One day she said to me-Kirkland your family has a restaurant how would you like to do a program to learn how to cook and we’ll pay you$60 per week, the money was the draw for him. Russell ended up being the valedictorian of the two-year program which is now known as the apprentice program now. She came to my home afterwards and told my parents she was sending me to school in Miami and they had to pay for it-the next week she had taken me to Miami to see the school, after I graduated, she gave me two weeks at home and then flew me off to school. Russell has been cooking ever since.

He loves local food and his favorite dish is corned beef and white rice. I like grouper-I like big fish, don’t care what kind of fish it is, I like big fish. Every other month he says he has to cook a pot of peas soup and dumplings. He’s even made this classic Bahamian dish with chicken which he said was off the chain. I don’t think no one in The Bahamas can make peas soup and dumplings better than me, and I’m a man who has traveled The Bahamas. I go to the U.S. out of force-which is my two kids, Kirkland Jr. and Charissa, when they say they’re tired of going away with everyone else but me.

Okeaver Gray chef de partie in China Beach

You need Nori sheets rice, bowl of water with a slice of lime squeezed in so your hand doesn’t smell fishy, shrimp, tempura flakes, pickled ginger, black sesame seeds, wasabi, BBQ eel, Tabiko(salmon roe)eel sauce-all of which can be found in the food stores. I’ve been making sushi for six years. She learned under former master sushi chef Michael Lee who had her simply washing his knives for the first six months and handing the utensils to him, then she moved on to making rice and stirring rice for four months straight before she ever rolled her first bamboo mat around a sushi roll. The average person can make sushi at home once you have all the ingredients. The hardest thing is cooking the rice, but once you have the rice down pat, and cooked rice, you can make sushi. To cook the rice, you have to wash it, after removing the cloudiness, it would be best if you cooked it in a rice cooker and just cover the rice using the water. When cooking the water if you add three quarts of rice, add three quarts of water. You want it to be sticky, so don’t add any butter or oil. A little vinegar, sugar, and salt gives the rice a nice seasoning and glaze, and you put it on after the rice has finished cooking. You fold it into the rice.

Step 1-Take whole Nori sheet, fold in half, and cut in half and use a half.

Seto 2-Moisten hands lightly and grab a big ball of rice(about a handful or one-and-a-half tablespoons of rice)lay it onto the Nori sheet and press the rice around to cover Nori sheet, pressing rice into sheet as you go.

Step 3-Sprinkle black sesame seeds(about a teaspoon)(use whatever color sesame seeds you have)on top or rice for that nice roasted flavor

Step 4-Turn over

Step 5 Put three slits on the back of the shrimp, turn over and press and stretch and pull to straighten out shrimp.

Step 6-Tempura batter and quickly fry shrimp about 1 minute

Step 7-Add shrimp to roll, in the middle, give two big roll and roll tightly, and lighlty press down and ensure that it’s tight.

Step 8-Cut eel in three pieces and heat for about a minute, because the eel is already cooked and barbecued.(go to specialty store and you can find eel. Remove eel from package, cut in half then cut on an angle into three nice pieces, and warm for about a minute in microwave or in the oven. Lay the eel pieces on top of the roll.

Step 9-Take a piece of plastic wrap, lay over roll and apply a little pressure to meld everything together, then add Tabiko to the top of the roll, then sprinkle tempura flakes on top(mix tempura batter at home take a spoon and sprinkle it into hot oil to get tempura flakes(tempura batter is simply tempura flour and water mixed together). Give the roll a tight roll. Place plastic wrap over entire roll, apply pressure with bamboo mat. This is a great seller-the Dragon Roll.

Step 10-Before cutting the roll, dampen a sharp knife with water so the rice doesn’t stick to the knife and cut roll into eight pieces. Get a nice plate and decoratively spread pieces onto the plate. Drizzle eel sauce over finished roll for extra flavor. Add pickled ginger(to clear palate between sushi rolls) and wasabi for a little spice

CHINA BEACH

Tan Boonkhing head Asian chef at China Beach-I’ve been here almost six months(as of November)-Thai, Malaysian, Singapore, Chinese and Japanese cuisine. They can expect quality and I bring high quality food and experience to China Beach and the food served, to satisfy guest expectation. Also the flavor is very important in Asian food and I use a lot of spice. At capacity the restaurant seats 150 persons.

They’re expecting quality from the food and food that’s fresh. The grouper and the lobster dishes are the biggest sellers on his dish, and they were newly introduced to the menu. The grouper is made with Chinese wine, soy sauce, ginger, scallion and cilantro. People can do it at home, but they do need a steamer. If they don’t have a steamer, they can use a big pot with two, three inches of water and cover it with a plate. And serve with rice. The touch of ginger flavor and Chinese wine is very good and very healthy as well. If you don’t have grouper you can do this with any other fish that you can get as well.

The lobster is stir-fried in XO sauce that Chef Tan modifies a bit with garlic, lemongrass, dried shrimp and dried scallop. It’s a very strong flavor.

Chef Tan is from Brunei.

Yaku Udon is one of the Japanese noodle.

And Bahamians love the steak with Black Bean Sauce, the Tika Masala with naan bread and pappadum is another top seller on his menu.

The menu is limited so the chef keeps the quality high.

I’m expecting for my menu to have a lot of joy for the customer. Locals don’t take advantage of it too much. They appreciate what I’m doing with my menu. Those that aren’t coming are missing the flavors, the interesting Asian flavors. The chefs recommendation you should have the grouper and lobster and the Thai fried rice also.

This is five star Asian dining, high quality, because the staff are trained also.

Alvin Newbold is bartender in China Beach photos

Churchill’s

Reminiscent of the British-colonial era, the classic dark-wood furnishings and exquisite view of the ocean creates an elegant dining experience at Churchill’s restaurant. Churchill’s offers perfectly aged beef, fresh local seafood and classic pasta dishes, for a fine dining experience at Our Lucaya. Experience tableside dinning as the staff freshly prepares and serves favorites like Steak Diane, Steak Au Poivre, Crepe Suzette and Bananas Foster from a silver gueridon.

Irie’s

Fragrant spices of the West Indies delightfully assault the senses at Irie’s, the epitome of elegant dining with a local flair. Diners are treated to traditional Caribbean flavors with Bahamian-inspired, festival-style grouper and flavorful lobster dishes, one of which is soaked in rum.

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Willy Broadleaf

Taste a traditional Indian entre?e from the maharajah section or visit the Mexican courtyard themed station for a flavorful Latin dish at this international buffet-style diner.

China Grill

Take a break from a day of basking in the warm Caribbean sun and enjoy an oriental salad or teriyaki wrap at the beachfront China Grill. In the evenings, the candlelit outdoor patio is an ideal romantic getaway for couples seeking to rekindle their love.

Waves Bar and Grill

Enjoy fresh and tasty off the grill dishes, such as the serpentine beef burger topped with roasted Bermuda onions fresh and mushrooms at the Waves Bar&Grill.

Hammerhead’s

Hammerhead’s poolside location allows guest to select from a variety of tropical beverages and lunch favorites, without stepping out of the pool. Serving American classics, like the jumbo beef hot dog with sauerkraut and a pickle spear, Hammerhead’s offers familiar dishes with a splash of island flair.

Havana Cay Cigar Bar

Guests can commemorate their vacation by enjoying an authentic Cuban or Dominican cigar on the veranda overlooking beach, or with cocktails served at the Havana Cay Cigar Bar.

Plantation Coffee Kiosk

The Plantation Coffee Kiosk, with a menu of specialty morning coffees, fresh juices and convenient snacks, is a convenient stop for busy guests.

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