Q&A by Janice Randall Rohlf
Dave Roberts is co-owner and founder of Truro Vineyards of Cape Cod and South Hollow Spirits.
Q&A by Janice Randall Rohlf
J’aime Sparrow and her husband, Christian, own Sunbird Kitchen in Orleans, a neighborhood cafe open year-round, serving seasonally fresh food and craft beverages with creativity and good vibes.
1. Why did you choose to open a restaurant? We started our business with a food truck, which was a way for my husband and me to collaborate and pool our individual talents and interests, mine in food and service, and his in design and marketing. We both worked in our respective fields for over 10 years in San Francisco. Once we successfully tested our concept with the food truck, the cafe was a logical next step. I was familiar with the rewards and challenges of the business and excited to put all that I had learned into practice. And Christian was able to use the opportunity to flesh out the overall Sunbird brand experience in a more permanent space.
2. What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar path? The restaurant business is extremely challenging. In our case, success came with diligence, patience, incredible amounts of hard work and a like-minded, dedicated team/flock. Be ready to rarely have a day off, take a vacation, or make ‘lots of money.’ You really have to love what you are doing--customer service, food preparation, management/teaching, marketing, bookkeeping, etc. You have to be present in your business everyday in order to maintain consistency and vision. You also have to be prepared to wear any and all hats to get your business off the ground. Finally, you have to be very patient. Growing a strong and viable business takes time. For most, it does not happen overnight. Be patient.
3. In your business, what has been your proudest moment? I can’t honestly say that there is a single moment. What I am most proud of is the overall brand experience we continue to create for our flock--our guests, our staff, our community, our families and ourselves. Our business has always been a collaboration. First between Christian and myself, then, as time went on and layers were added, between us and our partners, Karen Densmore and Garrett Smythe, and finally a collaboration with our community--guests and staff. We always wanted ‘Sunbird’ to be about Sunbird, not an individual person. It is a singular experience that cannot be imitated, an experience that relies on the vision, dedication and creativity of more than just one person. That said, our ability to provide a great Sunbird experience relies heavily on our staff. We maintain very high expectations for execution and take a hands-on approach, leading by example every day. Whether you are taking an order, making a coffee, cooking/prepping food, or washing dishes, we make every effort to inspire and guide our staff so that they can effectively deliver a thoughtful and authentic guest experience with lots of layers. Our guests have come to expect to enjoy great food, an inspiring space and kind service from Sunbird. I’m so proud that our whole team believes in consistently providing that.
4. How has the CCCI helped you get your business off the ground (if they have), or how would you have benefited from a similar organization when you were starting out? I was not assisted directly by the CCCI. Getting a fledgling food business off the ground is a difficult task. The support this organization provides would certainly have been welcome had it been available to us 10 years ago, and we're so glad to see it assisting others just getting started.
5. What one thing/service in the food industry do you think the Cape is missing? When we moved home to the Cape nine years ago, after 10 years in San Francisco, we missed a lot that was readily available on the West Coast. The Bay Area is a mecca for the local food movement. Access to local food and growers, robust farmers markets, an interest in serving farm to table as ‘fast’ slow food was just beginning to emerge here on the Cape. Today it’s a whole different story. There are many fantastic local businesses that have embraced and helped bring this movement to the Cape. Local farmers and farmers markets, groceries, restaurants, cafes, food trucks, publications, etc. have all made the Cape an even better place than it already was. There is little I think we are missing these days. More importantly, though, I think we are getting better at bringing the best of who we are and what we all do here as a community, to market. It makes us very proud to be a part of it all, and is motivation to continue to do our part.
6. What keeps you busy outside work? I’m a pretty boring person. Sunbird is always a work in progress and most of my ‘free’ time is spent working to improve and grow our business. Christian and I try to sneak away for hike dates or city sprints whenever we can. Otherwise, I get outside early each morning for a bike ride or run, and I read at night.
7. Describe your perfect day of eating on Cape Cod? That’s a hard question. I am surrounded by food every day of the week for hours on end. It’s hard sometimes to separate work from pleasure. I truly love basic ingredients. The simpler, the better. I’m not one for ‘fancied up’ food. I think in general it should be fresh, delicious and as approachable as possible. We source tons of produce from Chatham Bars Inn farm in the summer. Fresh raw peas, garden greens, radishes, beets ... they need little embellishment and provide me, personally, with the greatest eating pleasure.
By Chef Alan
Cod Fish is a delicious white fish popular on the Atlantic Coast of the United States. It’s easy to eat because it has layers of flesh next to one another with very few bones getting in your way. In fact, all parts of the Cod are eaten including the head and cheeks and internal organs such as the liver. The smooth meat of the Codfish is beautiful to look at and so very tasty to eat.
Cod can be broiled, baked, fried or braised. It can also be eaten in other ways. For example, as early as 985 the Vikings learned to eat codfish by hanging it in the frosty winter air on their boats. This created a hard wood-like plank which could be eaten like hardtack. In contrast to the Vikings, the Basques located in the Northern reaches of Spain had salt which enabled them to dry and salt cod and survive longer voyages. Further, the Basques had the advantage of a brighter sun in the Mediterranean waters where they fished thus being able to dry up their sea salt more easily in order to create sea salt which was used to dry foods and avoid food spoilage. (See Mark Kurlansky’s Cod:A Biography of the Fish that Changed the World)
Will Cod fish remain as accessible as it has been historically? Scientists and fishermen differ on this but the fish has become increasingly rare due to a number of modern day technical changes including the aggressive bottom fishing of trawlers where Atlantic Cod spend the majority of their time. And the physiological nature of Cod which leaves them less able to escape the nets which catch them. Finally, the nature of Cod is not an aggressive one. Unlike Blue Fish or Striped Bass, Cod does not fight for its’ food. It lives on the bottom of the sea and feeds itself by eating anything and everything its’ wide-open mouth consumes. It could sadly be the end of an era if the Cod population disappears. We can only hope it’s not too late. Here’s a simple recipe you can make which is easy to assemble in less than 25 minutes,
Roasted Cod Fish with Onions
1- Heat the oven to 425F. Using a metal sheet tray, place a large piece of aluminum foil into the tray; pour all the oil into the pan on the foil. Place onion slices on the oiled tray.
2-Place tray in oven and roast until onion slices are brown – about 7-10 minutes.
3- Cut piece of cod into three equal portions. Place each of the 3 slices of cod on top of the 3 slices of onion.
4- Sprinkle the paprika, tarragon and garlic over all the fish. Add one tablespoon of butter on top of each piece of cod. Sprinkle the parsley over the fish and place one thin slice of lemon on top of each piece of fish. Cook for 15 minutes leaving the temperature at 425 F. Your knife should easily slip into the side of the fish and come out without any moisture showing.
1- Wash the chard thoroughly and dry in salad spinner. Remove largest 3 outer leaves and remove the center vein in each of the 3 leaves. Cut across the 3 leaves to form ribbons of chard.
2- Pour the olive oil into a large frying pan over medium heat. Put the cut leaves into the frying pan and add the minced garlic and shallot. Sauté over medium heat for a few minutes using tongs to toss the strips of chard 2-3 times.
3- Shake the soy and the mirin into the frying pan. Toss all ingredients over medium high heat. Using tongs, place strips of chard on each plate and top with piece of cod.
By Chef Alan Zox
Seafood Reubens are becoming more and more popular on Cape Cod. Not to be confused with Corned Beef Reubens, the seafood version has a delicious range of options. But all of these seafood dishes have a common thread which involves the briny scent of the sea which means they are still fresh. If they smell too much like fish they are not fresh. When fish is fresh or frozen shortly after they are purchased or caught, they are delicious eaten roasted, grilled, fried or sautéed. Try these sandwiches with cod, tuna, soft shell crab or halibut. They are all wonderful.
Cooking a Seafood Reuben is easy if you simply coat your fish with crushed Ritz crackers, and then place 2 tablespoons of butter on top. Preheat the oven to 400 degrees for 20 minutes and remove. I used panko in the recipe below because it’s made of rice and is gluten-free, unlike Ritz crackers. I also enjoy using sauerkraut with seafood Reubens, but it may not work for you. Coleslaw seems to work better for many people. Just follow the instructions below and you may discover a new way to savor Father’s Days. Enjoy!
Recipe: Seafood Reuben with cod or soft-shell crab
Mayonnaise Recipe Yields 1 ½ cups ¾ cup canola oil
Q&A by Janice Randall Rohlf
MacGregor “Mac” Hay is the owner of the Wellfleet Harbor Seafood Company and Mac’s Seafood, which owns and operates fish markets in Eastham, Wellfleet and Provincetown. In addition to Mac's on the Pier, the company's signature seafood restaurant located at the municipal pier on Wellfleet Harbor, it also operates Mac's Shack and Mac's Fish House in Provincetown, as well as a catering business. In the last year, Mac’s Seafood purchased Chatham Fish & Lobster, adding a seafood restaurant, wholesale seafood company and two more retail seafood markets to its company.
Why did you choose this career?
I have always had a passion for food and loved the sound of a buzzing restaurant, plates clinking in the background. When I had the opportunity to open my own seafood market and restaurant, I felt confident because I grew up fishing with my grandfather. I knew how to filet fish, shuck clams and oysters, and the basics of seafood cooking. I had worked a number of summer restaurant jobs so I also had an idea of what it took to run a seasonal business. At least I thought I knew.
I don’t think it was a conscious choice to choose the restaurant business. I think it was more of a drive to do something that I truly enjoyed that didn’t feel like work.
What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar path?
Don’t. Just kidding. This business requires that you be “all in.” There are very few breaks and little time off, as it is all-consuming. There is so much advice I feel like I could share that it’s hard to narrow it down. I think having a five-year plan or goal is important. I often ask myself how I want things to be in five years and then make decisions based on those goals every day. Someone once said to me, “If you aren’t directing the ship where you want to go, don’t complain when you land in a port you don’t like.”
Other advice: Surround yourself with talented and driven people. Reinvest most of the profits from the business for a number of years if you want the business to grow. Don’t look at money as the “goal” but rather a tool to run a successful business. Don’t be afraid to borrow money.
The key to the restaurant business, and probably most businesses, is hospitality. If you want to go into this line of work, know what hospitality means and extend hospitality to co-workers, customers and the vendors you work with.
In your business, what has been your proudest moment?
It took me about 10 years, but I remember a moment when everything I had been working so hard to attain came together. It was a moment when everywhere I looked everyone and everything was actually working exactly as I had hoped. It was as though the perfect moment had been achieved. It was short-lived, but I felt a real sense of accomplishment.
How has the CCCI helped you get your business off the ground, or how would you have benefitted from a similar organization when you were starting out?
I haven’t tapped into the resources of CCCI but am happy to now make a connection!
What one thing/service in the food industry do you think the Cape is missing?
I think the Cape isn’t recognized enough on a national level for the quality of its food Cape- wide.
What keeps you busy outside work?
I love spending time with my family, fishing, doing some gardening and playing music.
Describe your perfect day of eating on Cape Cod?
I have chickens, and I start my day with fresh eggs, either poached or fried on toast. If it’s my day off, I’ll head out on my boat and hopefully catch a few fish, either bluefish or striped bass. (And if I don’t catch anything, I’ll stop by one of our markets and pick up some fish!)
For lunch I’ll stop by the restaurant and have some sushi, oysters and clams, then get ready to cook dinner. I like using the grill for everything. I’ll do a number of different sauces and marinades for the fish, but I like to keep it simple for the most part and let the freshness and flavor of the fish shine through. I’ll grill potatoes, onions, peppers, corn and anything else in season. While things are on the grill, I’ll shuck some oysters and clams and serve them with lemon and cocktail sauce or a mignonette. I also like doing lobster on the grill with some tarragon butter. A nice meal with some potato salad, fresh grilled fish and veggies, a salad made from garden greens and finished off with a homemade strawberry pie is a fantastic end to a perfect day of eating on Cape Cod.
And if I don’t want to cook, I’ll head to one of the restaurants and order off the menu!
Q&A by Janice Randall Rohlf
Richard Peal is manager of Leroux Kitchen in Falmouth, one of six locations, all in New England. He recently celebrated his third year at this cook’s paradise on Main Street, filled with everything you might need or want to make magic happen in your kitchen and have fun doing it.
1. Why did you choose to manage a cookware store?
After working 20 years in the publishing industry, helping authors realize their creative dreams, I jumped at the chance to the help home cooks find creative success in their kitchens.
2. What advice would you give someone wanting to follow a similar path?
Take the time to think about what type of people will help you reach your goal. Then go out and find them. Also, trust your gut.
3. In your business, what has been your most proud moment?
Finding quality locally produced food, buying it and selling out before I thought we would.
4. What one thing/service in the food industry do you think the Cape is missing?
A culinary incubator is needed on the Cape. As a retail manager, I am always looking for locally made shelf-stable food products. On the Cape, it's difficult to find those little niche food makers. If there were a central location where they could get guidance in both business and production, it might encourage more people to venture into this area.
6. What keeps you busy outside work?
Cooking at home and sailing.
7. Describe your perfect day of eating on Cape Cod.
It would be a fall day, with a nice 15 to 18 mph southwest breeze. Start the day on Chappaquoit Beach in West Falmouth with a cup of coffee and an egg bagel with cream cheese from Cape Cod Bagel, followed by a morning session of sailing. At around 1 p.m., break for lunch at the Pickle Jar in Falmouth. Maybe some more sailing in the afternoon, and finish the day with dinner at Water Street Kitchen in Woods Hole.
(Adapted from Ina Garten)
By: Alan Zox
Mother’s Day is a time to remember and to celebrate the mothers in our lives. It’s always fun to make a special meal or to eat at a delicious restaurant when the weather is starting to turn warm and temperate.
Mother’s Day in the United States was given birth by Anna Jarvis of West Virginia in the early 1900s. It was conceived in collaboration with the department store owner John Wanamaker who held a special Mother’s Day event. Jarvis started a letter-writing campaign promoting a unique day for mothers. By 1914, President Woodrow Wilson signed a measure officially establishing the second Sunday in May as Mother’s Day.
Ironically, however, as time passed, Ms. Jarvis became disenchanted with the commercialization of the holiday. In fact, by 1920 she had become the holiday’s biggest critic. Rather than giving candy, flowers and greeting cards to their mom, Ms. Jarvis worked diligently to see Mother’s Day removed from the calendar.
Here’s one of my favorite chocolate cake recipes, which is always popular on Mother’s Day. For me the holiday has become one of my most enjoyable.
Mother’s Day Chocolate Cake
(Adapted from the celebrated cook Ina Garten)
2 Tbsp butter
1¾ cups all purpose flour or gluten free flour 2 cups sugar
¾ cups cocoa powder
2 tsp gluten free baking soda
1 tsp baking powder or gluten free baking flour 1 tsp salt
1 cup buttermilk
½ cup vegetable oil
2 extra large eggs
1 tsp vanilla
¼ cup brewed coffee
Chocolate Frosting Ingredients:
6 oz. semisweet chocolate
2 sticks unsalted butter – room temperature
1 extra large egg yolk
1 tsp vanilla
1¼ cups confectioners’ sugar
3 tsp instant coffee dissolved in 1½ tsp water
1.Preheat the oven to 350 degrees. Butter two 8-inch round cake pans. Using parchment paper, trace two outlines of the cake pans.
2. Spray pans with cooking spray and then place a sheet of parchment into each of the cake pans. Butter and flour the pans again with parchment in the bottom. Sift the flour, sugar, cocoa, baking soda, baking powder and salt into the bowl of an electric mixer. Using paddle attachment, mix on low speed until combined.
3. In a separate bowl or large cup, combine the buttermilk, oil, eggs and vanilla. With the mixer on low speed, slowly add the wet ingredients to the dry ingredients.
4.Slowly add the brewed coffee. Mix just to combine. The resulting batter will be thin.
5. Divide the batter evenly between the two pans and bake for 35 to 40 minutes. Check to see if done with a toothpick. If no crumbs stick to toothpick the cakes are done. Cool in pans for 30 minutes. Turn them out on a rack to cool and carefully remove parchment paper.
6. Measure your chocolate for the frosting, and place in a heat-proof bowl set over a small pot of simmering water. Stir until melted and set aside until cooled to room temperature.
7. To bowl of stand mixer or using hand-held mixer, beat 2 sticks of butter on medium-high speed until light yellow and fluffy. Add the egg yolk, the dissolved instant coffee and vanilla, and continue beating. Gradually add confectioners’ sugar. Beat the frosting to remove clumps. Continue beating at medium speed until frosting is smooth and creamy. Then add melted chocolate and beat until combined.
Frost the cake:
Place the first cake on a flat plate. With an offset spatula, spread with frosting more than a ¼-inch thick. Place the second layer on top, and spread frosting evenly on top and sides of the cake. So good…
Contact Chef Alan with any questions or comments about the cake. Look forward to hearing from you.
By: Chef Alan Zox
March 27, 2019
Grilling and smoking fish are two cooking methods that create wonderful flavors and delicious meals. But they are distinct and unique from one another. Knowing the differences will enhance your cooking skills and delight your families and friends.
Lightly smoking your fish for no more than 5-10 minutes will at a low temperature of 200F- 225°F will yield delicious results. Using a piece of tin foil or a special grill smoking box containing alder or apple wood chips placed on top of white coals will do the trick. You can shorten the cooking time even more by poaching or braising your fish beforehand in a Court Bouillon flavored with fresh herbs and then following up with a few minutes of smoking. Alas, there is no set recipe to follow. The flavor you are after will depend upon the time your fish is in your covered smoker, the type of fruitwood chips used, and the variations you experiment with in your bouillon.
Grilling or steaming your fish are more familiar techniques than smoking for many cooks since grilling and steaming take less time than cooking at a lower temperature. And that may be why salt-water fish, like burgers and beef steaks, are normally grilled.
Several facts about cooking fish are essential to enhancing seafood cooking prowess. For example, only selecting fresh fish that have firm flesh and a moist appearance is certainly the most important factor. Avoid fish that smells too “fishy”. Fresh fish should smell briny like salt water.
Several saltwater fish are ideal for grilling including Halibut, Salmon, Stripped Bass, Swordfish and Tuna among others. Derrick Riches, the grilling and BBQ consultant, recommends oiling your cooking grate to avoid sticking before you start grilling -- especially when cooking fish fillets. Using a grilling or fish basket makes the task of grilling fillets easier and prevents them from falling apart when turned. Thick cuts such as fish steaks hold together better and make grilling much easier. Seasoning seafood is not really necessary. I enjoy adding very few spices or herbs since the fish alone is so delicious. A pat of butter and a squeeze of lemon at the end of the cooking process are usually sufficient.
The length of time you grill your fish varies by taste but 10 minutes per inch is a good guideline. You can also tell when the fish is done by using a fork to flake the fish apart or use a thermometer – fish should reach a temperature of 145° F.
Here’s a recipe that children and adults enjoyed at a recent family reunion in Florida. I fed 17 cousins— all healthy eaters— a version of Paella that was simple to cook when using Southern Grouper. In more northern waters you can achieve a similar outcome with fish such as Halibut, Striper, Swordfish or Cod, among others. If you experiment with other kinds of fish please advise. I will post it on my blog!
Paella with Saltwater Flat Fish
For the Vegetable stock:
9 cups water
1 roughly chopped carrot
2 celery stalks chopped
1 onion chopped
1 bay leaf
1 teaspoon salt
½ teaspoon ground black pepper
For the Paella:
2 cups Arborio (also called Risotto) Rice
1 medium sweet onion diced fine
1 large carrot, diced
2 tablespoon extra-virgin olive oil
6 tablespoons unsalted butter
2 pinches of Saffron, dissolved in ½ cup water
1.5 lb flat fish fillets, cut into 3 x 2 inch slices
1 15 oz. jar of roasted red pepper, drained and roughly chopped
1 cup frozen green peas
½ cup chopped parsley
Lemon wedges for serving
Optional: 8 oz. fresh shrimp, or cleaned squid cut into rings
1- Make the stock by simmering the water with the vegetables, bay leaf and salt and pepper for 45 minutes. Strain, return to the pot, and cover to stay warm.
2- To a 12” frying pan or paella pan add the olive oil and 2 tablespoons butter and melt over medium heat. Sauté the diced onion and carrot until translucent before adding the saffron and rice and sauté until the rice is coated with oil and slightly crispy.
3- Add the heated broth to the rice a ladle at a time stirring well and simmering until the rice is al dente – firm to the tooth – about 20 minutes.
4- Submerge the slices of fish and (if using) shellfish into the rice along with the peas and roasted red pepper. Add the remaining 4 tablespoons of butter, parsley and cook for an additional 6-8 minutes to warm up the vegetables and cook the fish. Serve immediately with lemon wedges. Enjoy!
Sometimes pursuing your passions in life takes a long time to put into action. Over twenty-five years ago I decided to take a leap of faith and expand my love of cooking by entering the Professional Culinary Certificate Program at the Cambridge School of Culinary Arts (CSCA). My goal was to gain professional experience and pursue a career that merged my love of cooking and my marketing background. After finishing the year-long intensive program I worked in a restaurant where I did prep and created some new desserts for the menu. I also briefly worked on Restaurant PR where I worked to translate recipes written for professional chefs into instructions that a home cook could utilize. And although I wasn’t able to create a permanent new career path, my passion for the culinary arts never left and several years later I was able to assist in the recreational cooking classes at CSCA.
Using my experiences with CSCA as a model, I’ve developed an interactive teaching approach which I’ve put to use giving cooking lessons in community recreational programs. For the past 10 years I’ve taught cooking classes to adults and children in Westford, Chelmsford, Marlboro and now in Harwich. In addition, I’ve also been able to conduct private classes for friends in their own homes. My classes have ranged from menus that feature ethnic recipes to lessons on appetizers and baking.
Two years ago, my husband and I retired and moved to Harwich. Since I wanted to offering the public cooking classes, I approached the Harwich Council on Aging about using their kitchen and I’ve been conducting classes on a regular basis. I’ve found that attending a cooking class is something many people enjoy during retirement years when they have time to experiment without the pressure of getting dinner on the table after a long day at work. Because culinary education can be intimidating for folks with its own language and set of skills, I decided to call my business Kitchen Confidence. My goal is to give people of all ages the knowledge they need to successfully produce delicious meals in their own kitchen while also having fun.
Recent classes have included appetizers and menus designed for one or two people. Classes are limited to eight people and are interactive in nature where I assist students with hands-on instruction including demonstrations on knife skills and helpful tips on using unfamiliar ingredients. As written recipes are often imprecise, I make sure to test each recipe before using it in class to be sure the instructions and ingredient measurements are accurate and easy to follow. Best of all after the cooking is done we get to taste the results! Starting in May I will be offering some new classes at the Harwich COA kitchen. For more information, be on the look-out for listings in the bi-monthly the COA bulletin or check out my Facebook page.
By Alan Zox
Visiting family in Chicago during St. Patrick’s Day shocked me when I saw the Chicago River, which winds along Wacker Drive, to be as green as a four-leaf clover. Other cities across America celebrate the holiday with the color green as well. Parades, hats, banners and clothing of all types are green as the Emerald Isle in tribute to St. Patrick’s Day.
Joining friends at local pubs on this special day is a time to enjoy a beer and a sandwich that are also bright green. I am generally OK with these menu choices but find myself less enchanted with artificial green food. So, I began searching for culinary options that more naturally reflect a green hue.
I have experimented with green risotto or pasta, or a side of asparagus or broccoli with mixed results even though I personally adore green vegetables any time of year. But one “green dish” stands out for me and everyone who eats it more than any other. This involves the joy of making a green laced breakfast or lunch with roasted poblano chili peppers that evoke warm, delicious memories.
The flavor of the pepper is not particularly hot in taste (about a 4 or 5 on a Scoville scale of 1-10) and everyone appreciates the flavor when roasted, peeled and added to something wonderful. So, I decided on poblanos and scrambled eggs that I had seen eaten in Oaxaca, Mexico. There is a simplicity to the dish and a natural flavor and appearance that is wonderful and filling. Also, the range of meals in which you can serve the scrambled eggs as an entree or a side dish is remarkable. Hope you enjoy it too.
Recipe: Roasted Poblano and Eggs-
(Note: Poblano chilis are available in most markets)
2 large roasted poblano chili peppers, peeled, deveined, stemmed and deseeded
8 large eggs, beaten to mix with a dash of milk
2 oz unsalted butter (4 tablespoons)
Salt and pepper to taste