He’s an Exuma native who has done good, and he heads up one of the top restaurants in the country that you want to dine at for great food with”true-true”Bahamian flavor and flair from the appetizers through to the desserts, including signature martini items from the bar.
Chef Norris”Boxer”McPhee comes out of his corner fighting with the cuisine his staff serves up at Iries Island Seafood Restaurant at the Our Lucaya Beach& Golf Resort in Freeport, Grand Bahama, offering menu items like Creamy Grouper Chowder, Pigeon and Root Vegetable Broth, Sweet Corn and Plantain Fritter, Thyme and Coconut Breaded Queen Conch on Skewers, Grilled Wild Mutton Snapper Fillet, Cast Iron Roasted Deep Water Nassau Grouper, Slow Baked Rock Lobster, Guava Tiramisu, Roasted Mango Cheesecake and Sugar Banana and Coconut Filled Layer Cake–to name a few of the items offered on the menu.
“The food at Iries is just different, says the 59-year-old chef who has been at the resort for the past 13 years.”There’s a mixture of Bahamian flavors in Irie’s, and if you want to experience the tastes of The Bahamas, this is the place you need to eat at,” he says.”It’s a classic menu with lovely Bahamian influences.”
Chef McPhee who has worked at the helm of a number of the resort’s dining outlets says Irie’s hold a special place in his heart because of the local flavors they serve up and their use of fresh herbs to get the flavors just right. It’s flavors he says that build as you stroll through the menu, providing excitement to the mouth with each bite. This from the man who loves French cuisine and cooked it, along with Italian food for the majority of his years in the kitchen. Even though, he says when it comes to the tastes of The Bahamas and infusing it into foods, there’s nothing like it.
“It’s mind-boggling,” he says with an easy smile as he says everything on the menu is great, but if he had to choose, his absolute favorite dish as an entree he says would be the Iries Trio(a combination of jerk-roasted salmon medallion, Kalik-marinated seared shrimp and poached jumbo scallops with a pigeon pea and conch rice cake in a lobster reduction).
For his starter, the Creamy Grouper Chowder(deep water Nassau grouper finished with field potato and okra)or the Sweet Corn and Plantain Fritters are a must. He describes both dishes as fabulous.”The Creamy Grouper Chowder is finished with blanched okra that is shocked to keep the green color and crisp texture, then crisped shoestring potatoes, to garnish, a little roux to put body to it, but not too much. It’s simple, but delicious, and one of my biggest sellers. The flavor is extraordinary. It’s a smooth chowder.”To ensure his chowder is just right at all times Chef McPhee makes the soup for the Creamy Grouper Chowder first, sautes pieces of grouper for a few seconds, but is careful to now allow the meat to overcook, then puts the dish together.
“For the fritters, the corn and plaintain are chunked and put into the batter and fried, and there’s cinnamon in there, with a hint of sweet with the plaintain . . . just fabulous.”
When the cuisine at Iries was switched from Caribbean cuisine to one influenced with more local flavor and flair, Chef Boxer says his thoughts were of Bahamian from start to finish.”Even with the Slow Baked Lobster, we brush it with a plantain and herb butter, for deliciousness that is unmatched anywhere. Everything goes into a pan, fresh and raw–even down to the vegetables like carrots. They’re tossed with a little butter and boom, boom, boom, it’s on the plate. The sweet potato[the type of yam they use]we pre-boil, flash fry them in olive oil and that’s it.”
The flavors they produce, he says also have to do with perfect timing of the components of each dish which he says are easy to prepare. If you try any of their dishes at home, Chef Boxer says to ensure that you have everything mise en place(everything in place) and ready to go, and you will be able to prepare a dish that is easy, but flavorful and delicious to the eye as well as the mouth.
The menu at Iries is expected to continue to evolve with Bahamian flair with plans to introduce local pasta dishes to the menu–think conch ravioli, penne pasta with lobster and the utilization of lots of fruits like papaya and mango.
The focus at Iries isn’t only on the food, attention has also been paid to the atmosphere you get when dining. Instead of one big open room, the restaurant is broken down into five smaller rooms, with thoughts of patrons dining in homey, comfort–just as you would your own home. There is also an option to dine in or eat on the patio, or at their bar.