Wednesday, March 20, 2013

Anguilla's Chef Nick and The Straw Hat Restaurant Bringing a taste of the Caribbean to the world

Anguilla Chef Nick Dellinger and his team at The Straw Hat Restaurant: Bringing the taste of the Caribbean to the World.

Anguilla the Small Caribbean island know for its soft white sand beaches and celebrity spot for the rich and famous Aka Atlanta House Wives,and Oprah, Is also one of the top Caribbean island destinations for exotic Caribbean culinary flavors and tropical dining. Join us as we feature one of the island Chef Nick Dellinger and his Team at their Restaurant the Straw Hat. And if you can't make it to Anguilla anytime soon, here he share his delicious easy recipe for Snapper Crudo. Go ahead dig in !!

Well first I'll tell you a little about Straw Hat. Yesterday we celebrated our 16th season in business. Yay! We are a fun, upscale but not pretentious beach restaurant. We offer an eclectic take on traditional west Indian and Caribbean cuisine. We are open seven days a week for breakfast, lunch and dinner, from November 1st to September 30th. We are located on the lovely Meads Bay in AXA. I feel like we have something to offer everyone.

A little about me; I was born and raised in the mid west united states. Southern Illinois exactly. I learned from a very young age to appreciate and work hard for food. My grandmas both cooked and instilled their love and passion for healthy, homegrown food in me. My grandfather gardened and managed a restaurant and a bar. Later in life my mother and step father owned a diner style restaurant in Des Moines Iowa. This was my first real taste of the restaurant lifestyle. It really fit for me.

When I was 18 years old I went to a community college for a degree in culinary arts. I simultaneously took on an apprentice position at the best restaurant within 200 miles. It is called Tom's Place in Desoto Illinois. The chef/owner is Lasse Sorensen, a Danish master chef who studied directly under Paul Bocuse. A few days after I started, Lasse lost his sous chef. He looked at me and there it began. He taught me everything he knew, from baking sourdough bread made with a starter of crushed tomatoes from our garden and rain water to foie gras torchons to building a pole barn. Lasse taught me to be very versatile, an idea that also fit well with me. He taught me that if I could do every job, then no matter what I would always find away to succeed. I worked for him for two years and then made my way to Portland, Oregon.

Portland is a culinary hub in the US and Oregon in general has an abundance of beautiful local product to work with. I spent five years there and during that time I work for several really talented chefs, learning and fine tuning my skills every step of the way. Fast fingers focus, finesse, treat food the way you want to be treated, keep it simple but nice.. these were my mantras. I worked hard and ate well. I eventually started my own private dining company, PUSH Private Dining, specializing in customized in home dinner parties. It was a blast. I did something new everyday, unfortunately I was young, didn't have a lot of credit and didn't want a partner so I put the business aside for the time. I was also recruited by a chef I had worked for to come to Las Vegas.

I was 25 years old and I started as a sous chef for Michael Mina at his lauded restaurant in the MGM Grand, NobHill Tavern. Vegas was crazy, fun to see, but not my cup of tea. Regardless I learned and I committed myself to staying for a couple years. I learned how to manage people and food cost on the highest scale possible. I taught my team the lessons I had learned and we put out some really phenomenal food. I was promoted within the first year to Executive Sous Chef at Michael's restaurant in Aria Hotel and Casino called American Fish. This is where I learned how to butcher 500 plus pounds of fish a day with complete care and attention to detail. Every single aspect of that restaurant had to run perfectly. We were on a grand stage and you had to really focus and do your best. After two years I decided both Las Vegas and the ultra corporate life were not for me. I didn't know what I wanted to do, so I started looking online for jobs across the nation. One day I found a listing for a chef position in Anguilla. I applied they hired me and I left everything behind.

I started at Koal Keel restaurant in AXA which is now closed. I was only there for five months before they decided to shut the doors. Fortunately I found a new home at Straw Hat. Since then I have been building an amazing team. We work hard, we learn a lot everyday. We do as much as we can in house. We make our own ice creams, bake bread and pastries every day. Its a lot of work, our food is worth it. I built a large garden during our off season so we have fresh lettuces, herbs, peas, radishes and other specialty items at our finger tips. I am teaching them the art of total utilization, finesse, care, that food can be fun and sexy!!

Food is my expression. Its my fun, its my passion. It holds memories and provides future. You will only truly get to know me if I cook for you. It is the one way I completely understand how to communicate. It has been my whole life for as long as I can remember and I wouldn't have it any other way.


Local Snapper Crudo- (this is so easy and so delicious)

Serves 4

20 oz fresh Snapper- sliced very thin

4 oz Dehydrated Nicoise Olive

4 oz Candied Lemon Peel

Fresh Radish

Fresh Garden Arugula

Olive Oil

Salt and Pepper

Lemon Juice

Candied Lemon- Peel two lemons and julienne the rinds. Place in a pot of cold water and bring to a boil, strain. Repeat this six times and on the seventh time use 1/2 cup water, 1/2 cup sugar and a splash of lemon juice. Cook at a slow simmer until the liquid becomes thick and the peels become almost translucent. Cool and they are ready to use. (these are great in a lot of dishes)

Dehydrated olives- Place olive in a dehydrator, dehydrate and crush into a powder. A microwave on half power will also work if you do not have a dehydrator

To set up the dish; Divide the snapper between four plates, season with olive oil, salt pepper and a touch of lemon juice. Atop the snapper scatter the candied lemon, dehydrated olive, arugula and radish.. Viola.. Its fresh, simple and absolutely delicious



Executive Chef | Straw Hat | Anguilla

Meads bay | British West Indies|264.729.7445

264.497.8300| www.nick@StrawH

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