By Jody Steele
Reflecting on the last few months of social distancing at Ocean Reef Club, a few memorable “silver linings” emerged. The Virtual Happy Hour with Sean Carroll, Director of Beverage & Wine Operations, and the Virtual Cooking Classes with four of Ocean Reef’s talented chefs are events we looked forward to as the weeks flipped by. Longing for entertainment and missing family and friends, my husband and I discovered more than just some new recipes.
On to the Ocean Reef website on Tuesdays at 5:00 p.m., we headed in to “Happy Hour” with Sean Carroll who skillfully demonstrated how to concoct the Club’s most popular cocktails. Showing how important it is to use a jigger and measure with care made it all look easy. So we followed Sean’s lead and then pretended we were at the Beach Bar drinking our very own Lagoon Lemonade. All ingredients were available at Port O’Call or Wynn’s so we were prepared. Of course, then we had to order Sean’s nifty lemon/lime squeezer to complete our set of bar tools.
Sean shared that Members from afar joined the Happy Hour and commented that they almost felt they were at The Reef. After a few of the classes, selected beverages were available for purchase with one weekend topping off at 28 gallons of the famous Reef Cup being delivered to Members residing at the Club.
All of these Virtual Happy Hours with accompanying directions are still available on the Ocean Reef website just in case you missed one or need a refresher. Looking ahead, you might see more of our supreme mixologist during the holiday season on the virtual site with that clever grin and expert command of the cocktail shaker.
Virtual Cooking Classes
We participated in many of the cooking classes by ordering the ingredients box that arrived on Wednesday afternoons like an enormous present. Packed inside, with the recipe, was everything we needed for the dinner. Labeled and measured accurately, we admired our array of ingredients and dreamed of the next evening’s dinner.
Executive Chef Andrea Van Willigan and CH Prime Chef Shelby Confer looked carefully at the readily available ingredients at our Farmer’s Market to utilize the convenience of fresh components, some favorite Ocean Reef recipes, followed by a few of all of the chefs’ special dishes to design these fun virtual classes.
Along the way, we learned some new cooking tips and revived some old ones. We did not expect to expand our kitchen gadgets though. However, we eagerly ordered the microplanes, a fish turner, and a digital cooking probe to name a few. Now we can chiffonade like pros. We are adept at butter poaching our shrimp, making our own chimichurri, and using our cast iron skillet to sear filets, heat in the oven, and finish on top with a butter basting. And we added an herb garden to our porch to continue the fresh accents to our meals.
We thank Chef Philippe Reynaud, Senior Director of Culinary Operations, for teaching us how to make an Ocean Reef Classic Yellowtail, to Chef Andrea for sharing her expertise in brining and roasting a chicken, to Chef Shelby for directing us in the making of honey hoisin short ribs, and to Chef Autumn Beach for leading us into the mysteries of an achiote skirt steak. Our repertoire of delicious dinners has certainly been expanded with the guidance of these talented chefs.
The virtual cooking classes and recipes also can still be accessed on oceanreef.com if you missed them. We are hoping for more during the busy holiday season ahead.
So these are just a few of the “silver linings” that came our way in the months of social distancing at Ocean Reef Club.