Francisco “Paco” Cazarin
Dolphin Tiki Waterfront Bar & Restaurant
Angler’s Cove, 1001 N. Barfield Dr., Marco Island. Phone: 239-394-4048. Hours: 11 a.m. to 9 p.m. Monday through Saturday; 8 a.m. to 9 p.m. Sunday (8 to 11 a.m. breakfast only)
Began working at present restaurant?
Back in 1999 in the beginning of season.
What is it about food that made you decide to cook for a living?
’Cause I really love what I do and where I work. It’s a perfect combination and our customers are a wonderful bunch of people. But I first got interested in food and cooking in San Diego when I was working for this chef and he encouraged me showed me how to be creative with food.
What was your first restaurant job?
I was 15 when my family left Mexico and moved to San Diego. I worked in several restaurants there before I came to Naples in 1998 and began working at Dolphin Tiki in 1999.
How long have you been cooking professionally?
About 18 years.
What is the most unusual dish you ever cooked?
Nothing really. Our guests bring me the usual Gulf fish, mackerel, grouper and snapper that they catch and ask me to cook — nothing fancy — grilled or fried and we serve it with cole slaw and choice of fries or onion strings.
Are you planning changes to your menu for the summer season?
I’ve created our summer menu earlier, but looking ahead to season we’re going to feature baby back ribs and snow crab actually I’m running it as a special for Friday right now and it’s very popular item for dinner, and we’ll also feature more local seafood cooked different ways and served as a platter or in sandwiches.
What is the most popular dish on your menu?
Right now it’s the steamed snow crab. I serve it with drawn butter and lemon wedge with a choice of potato, stuffed, baked or fried or onion strings.
What is one food that you’ll never eat? Why?
Cow’s liver. The odor when it’s being cooked really gets to me.
Who would you like to cook a meal for? Why?
Here at Dolphin Tiki I like to think that all our customers are special and that every dish I cook for them is just as special.
What is your most essential cooking implement? Why?
My chef’s knife.
What is your favorite TV cooking show?
‘“The Iron Chef.” I like to watch it because the chefs give me new and different ideas that I can use to create my evening dinner specials.
What would you like to be doing if you weren’t a chef?
You know, I’d probably want to be one of the chefs – on TV’s “Chopped” or ‘Top Chef.” I know I can put a dish together with the best of them. I don’t get nervous and I don’t need to follow a recipe to create a dish.
What annoys you most in the kitchen?
I really hate to run out of something or one of my specials. I should be flattered that the dish turns out to be popular, but then I don’t like to disappoint a customer.
What do you enjoy most about your profession?
I’m happy when I go out to the Tiki bar to serve a dish and I don’t hear any complaints. When a customer compliments me, that makes me happy because then I know they’ll be coming back to eat here at the restaurant.