760 N. Collier Blvd., Marco
Guy Harvey’s Island Grill: 760 N. Collier Blvd., The Esplanade. Phone: 642-2248
Began working at present restaurant?
When the Island Grill opened in December 2006.
Who or what inspired you to become a chef/cook?
WouId you believe wrestling? I was 13 when I started catering these roadside barbecued chicken fundraising deals for high school in Canandaigua, N.Y. Our boss was into wrestling — a bunch of us were too — so to keep us motivated about wresting he only hired kids in his wrestling group. Then I graduated and tried college. I was always in the dorm kitchen cooking because I enjoyed doing it. I also worked in a few local Greek restaurants during that time: But after trying a year in college — that was enough!
What was your first restaurant job?
It was a family-owned Italian place called Polimini’s back in Canandaigua, followed by a lot of restaurants in between as I worked my way down the East Coast. I stopped in Georgia and worked in Applebee’s and Friday’s for a while. Then moved on to Jax and Longhorn’s where I asked to be transferred to the one in Naples and worked there three years. During that time I was living on Isles of Capri and traveling back and forth from Naples. I wanted to get closer and Erin’s Isle had an opening so I worked for Mike Ward six months from June to December 2006. He had his own system but I learned a lot from him.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
If that means was I getting paid to cook? I suppose since high school. If you’re asking when did I become an executive chef? I worked a week to set up before Island Grill opened and actually I was hired as a line cook. Then the executive chef left to attend to his family business, which opened the door for me. I took over as executive chef in June 2007.
How would you describe your cooking style?
American Freestyle — a mix of everything I’ve learned. Actually, it’s fun because I can create different seafood dishes and keep the menu fresh, according to what’s available. I’ve created a new dinner specials menu that changes weekly, and we’ll be presenting a brand new lunch menu soon.
What is your most popular dish?
I’d say our Redfish Portofino — it’s a blackened filet of redfish topped with lump crabmeat and an orange lobster sauce. We serve it with fresh vegetables, and choice of potato , rice or black beans. Actually, we’re not allowed to serve, or put on our regular menu, many popular fish because they’re endangered or over-fished, but there are a few that we can serve as specials. It’s neat, I’m cooking and helping the environment at the same time. Incidentally, a percentage of our proceeds go to fund the Guy Harvey Research Institute based in Fort Lauderdale, and Guy will be coming to the Island Grill this Saturday, from 6 to 8 p.m. and will be signing autographs.
Where do you like to eat out on the island?
Everywhere to see what they’re doing, but I really cook a lot at home when my girlfriend asks me to cook a meal for the two of us.
What is your favorite snack?
Chocolate covered doughnuts and Almond Joy bars.
Do you cook at home? If so, what would we always find in your freezer?
Mostly ice because I like to use fresh ingredients when I cook.
What is your specialty? Why?
Roulades — beef pounded thin, stuffed and rolled then braised, that I serve with spaetzles — my grandma was Old School German and her food was the best.
What annoys you most in the kitchen?
Probably organization — it’s very important. I like to reach for something and find it where it’s supposed to be.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
When I have a free moment —not that we’re slowing down any — I like to look out into the dining room and read expressions on people’s faces. I can tell if they’re enjoying their meal and that really makes me happy. You know, if you go up to a table and ask if they’re enjoying their meal, they’ll always tell you it’s delicious, but I’ll never serve anything I wouldn’t eat myself.