1093 N. Collier Blvd., Marco
Blu Fusion, 1093 N. Collier Blvd., Marco Town Center. Phone: 389-4545
Began working at present restaurant?
About 6 months ago
Who or what inspired you to become a chef/cook?
I actually ... well, I formally started when I took home ec at Bartlett High School in Anchorage, Ak. I knew I was suited to it. On the other hand, you could say I fell into it because my parents both worked at the Anchorage Air Force Base and I was the one usually cooking dinner. We lived there nine years, but I was born in Florida — an Air Force brat at Eglin Air Force Base. Florida has always been my home, when we returned to the states we came to Ocala because my uncle was a state trooper there.
What was your first restaurant job?
I was a dishwasher at Shoney’s in Anchorage, but I worked my way up to the line in three of four months. .
How long have you been cooking professionally?
Thirty-three years, and 20 or so years in the Naples area. In Ocala, I worked at a restaurant owned by the O’Neal Brothers — Patrick and Ryan — a lot of famous people enjoyed my cooking. Then I worked for Red Lobster and opened restaurants for them across the U.S. I also was banquet chef at The Olde Marco Inn with Steve Jones
How would you describe your cooking style?
I went through the school of hard knocks, but I was fortunate to work with excellent chefs who took me under their proverbial wings. I’d call it versatile — the best of American and international cuisine with a personal twist to make it my own.
What is your most popular dish?
Right now my summer specials menu I recently started, it’s got a nice balance of seafood and meats. This week, for instance, I’m offering baked stuffed sole, grilled tilapia, shrimp scampi, beef pot roast and pasta or quarter roast duck with marmalade sauce and chicken Dijon. Everything priced under $15 and that includes fresh sautéed veggies and choice of starch. Then, we do sell a lot of steak, but we’re also famous of our specialty braised meat dishes like Osso Buco. Not everyone likes seafood.
Where do you like to eat out on the island?
I really prefer to eat at home, but sometimes for special occasions I’ll go to Tara’s and take my daughter. She likes their steak.
What is your favorite snack?
I try not to eat between meals.
Do you cook at home? If so, what would we always find in your freezer?
Yes, there’s always food in my house and steak in my freezer. I like to cook outside because I love the aroma and it keeps the kitchen clean.
What is your specialty? Why?
Seafood, but my signature dish is lobster bisque that I really make from scratch including the lobster stock.
What annoys you most in the kitchen?
Disorganization — I like to know where everything is at.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
The creativity and the cooking — I wouldn’t be doing it if I didn’t like it. Then, of course, it’s always nice to hear that people keep coming back because they enjoyed their meal.