Reef Eats Debut With Brand New Kitchen
by Terry Baxter
You could hear the excitement and pride in Chef Philippe’s voice as he showed me around the just-completed Ocean Room kitchen. “We have gone from the oldest kitchen at Ocean Reef to the newest,” he said. “We have slain a dinosaur.” Chef Shelby, who has worked in every kitchen at Ocean Reef, was equally enthusiastic. “It’s one hundred percent better,” she said. “We now have an open, functioning kitchen with the back line built for production. With versatile new equipment, the menus can be more versatile.” The new Combi ovens cook with dry heat or steam, or both. The Sous Vide water oven cooks with precisely temperature controlled circulating hot water, while the vacuum-sealed steak or chicken retain all their moisture and nutrients. To finish, the steak is seared on the grill, and the chicken is crisped in the Combi oven. Not only does the new kitchen make food prep more streamlined, it is more energy efficient with LED lighting and a huge, variable speed exhaust hood that adjusts automatically to the heat level.
The kitchen had its test drive on Monday night when Reef Eats, the new replacement for room service and in-home dining, began deliveries. With one phone call, members had access to a selection of favorites from restaurants across the Reef. The menu includes best sellers of the Islander, Gianni, Raw Bar, Burgee Bar, Palm Court, Reef Hut, Reef Lounge, Pizza and Sushi selections, and a kid’s menu. There is also a sneak preview of a couple of items from The Ocean Grill menu (the sub for CH Prime, coming in a month or two). A team of six chefs under the direction of Chef Josh and Chef Shelby prepare the orders. Special aluminum to-go containers hold the heat for up to forty-five minutes, but delivery by the colorful Kia Reef Eats fleet only takes a fraction of that time.
On the Saturday before the opening, Chef Philippe gathered all the chefs, order-takers, delivery drivers, senior Club culinary staff, and interested managers to do a dress rehearsal. Every item on the Reef Eats menu was prepared and packaged as it would be for delivery. One by one, Chef Shelby described each dish, reviewed the potential allergies (gluten, shellfish, dairy, etc.), and talked about ingredients and presentation. After everything was thoroughly critiqued, the participants lined up to taste favorites new and old. I actually discovered a new favorite. I know most of you are well ahead of me, but I had never noticed the Tuna Pizza from the Islander. Apparently, when I go to the sushi menu, I order as soon as I get to the Melanie Roll. So I tried the Tuna Pizza for the first time…a crisp flour tortilla, spicy aioli, avocado, ripe tomatoes, yellowfin tuna, truffle oil, cilantro, sea salt. Yikes, I loved it. A day like this run-through, reminded me how much time and effort the entire team devotes to producing such a high level of service to members. Inspiring and remarkable.
Chef Shelby reported that opening night, “Went very well, with positive feedback from members. Volume wasn’t crazy, but steady throughout the night. Top sellers were the Ocean Room Grill Brick Chicken, and Gianni Ristorante’s Pappardelle Bolognese.” Fair Patricia was yearning for the Reef Lounge Kobe Sliders, but she had to try the Ocean Room Grill Burger once she read the description (Short Rib and Brisket Patty, Braised Cipollini Onion, Mustard Ale Cheddar, Brioche Bun). I’ll let her reaction after the first bite be our review, “Oh my god this is good.”
The full Reef Eats menu is available online at oceanreef.com/OrderReefEats or call 305-367-5898.