Chef Q&A: Darwin Cevallos of Sasso’s International Cuisine & Seafood

Sasso's executive chef Darwin Cevallos displays one of his unique seafood creations, panko-encrusted black grouper pan-seared and served on a Peruvian purple potato cake atop a bed of steamed haricots vert and sauced with lobster beurre blanc, and garnished with mango and English cucumber relish and yellow pea shoots.

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Sasso's executive chef Darwin Cevallos displays one of his unique seafood creations, panko-encrusted black grouper pan-seared and served on a Peruvian purple potato cake atop a bed of steamed haricots vert and sauced with lobster beurre blanc, and garnished with mango and English cucumber relish and yellow pea shoots.

Sasso's

961 Winterberry Drive, Marco

Restaurant: Sasso’s International Cuisine & Seafood,

961 Winterberry Drive, Marco Island.

Phone: 393-4960

EXECUTIVE CHEF

Began working at present restaurant: About seven months ago

Where did you do your training?

Johnson & Wales University College of Culinary Arts, Providence Campus, where I graduated with a Bachelor’s Degree in Culinary Arts.

What was your first restaurant job?

Russell’s Restaurant in Boston, it was my first job when I came to the United States from Ecuador.

How long have you been cooking professionally?

Almost 30 years. After I left Russell’s, I was employed by the Sheraton Hotel Corporation and they sent me to Johnson & Wales. I worked for the company for several years as a corporate executive chef and traveled everywhere to their major resorts.

How would you describe your cooking style?

Unique! I have a global sensibility about food and my creations reflect that cultural awareness — not to be confused with the current fusion fad!

What is your most popular dish?

Everything on the new menu I created? Okay, maybe not, but a lot of our customers order my Grilled fresh Swordfish served on lightly sautéed Calamari with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives in spicy Marinara Sauce. Also very popular, Panko-encrusted Black Grouper pan-seared and served on a Peruvian Purple Potato cake atop steamed Haricots Vert and sauced with Lobster Beurre Blanc, with Mango and English Cucumber Relish and Yellow Pea Shoots Garnish. You know, our fresh black grouper melts in your mouth no matter how it’s prepared.

Where do you like to eat out on the island?

Not often now, but when I first came to Marco Island I liked to go to different restaurants and sample the cooking of local chefs.

What is your favorite snack?

I love fresh calamari sliced thinly into rings then lightly sautéed in butter and finished with a dash of white wine.

Do you cook at home? If so, what do you cook for friends or family?

No, my wife does the cooking at home.

What annoys you most in the kitchen?

Shortcuts — none are allowed in my kitchen: Do it right or not at all!

What was your worst kitchen disaster?

I have to say it was at a restaurant in Naples very popular with locals — the whole kitchen was a disaster, messy and dirty — I left after two weeks because the management wouldn’t or couldn’t clean it up.

What do you enjoy most about your profession?

I really enjoy cooking, and I like having the freedom to create interesting dishes. Here we serve a lot of fresh pasta, and every Thursday I create a different kind of Sushi. The customers really love my special Weekend Pairing Menu — unique dishes I make, from soup and appetizer to entrée and dessert, each one paired with a different wine — featuring dishes that aren’t on the regular menu.

• • •

Sasso’s Seafood Menu features Chef Cevallos’ Grilled fresh Swordfish served on a mound of lightly sautéed Calamari, and served with Artichoke Hearts and Kalamata Olives in spicy Marinara Sauce along with choice of Caspian Salad or Soup.

Executive Chef Darwin Cevallos’ new menu creation, Pan-seared Yellowtail snapper topped with Blue crab includes steamed Haricots Vert and Hawaiian Jasmine Rice, finished with Citrus Beurre Blanc sauce and garnished with Fruit Chutney.

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