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Chef Talk: Will Manson of the BeachHouse

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Will Manson of the BeachHouse.

Will Manson of the BeachHouse.

Will Manson, the chef and kitchen manager at the BeachHouse Restaurant (200 Gulf Dr. N., Bradenton Beach, 779-2222, beachhouse.groupersandwich.com), has been excitedly watching the restaurant evolve since its renovations began in September. The 1993-built Bradenton Beach landmark has undergone décor and menu upgrades to reflect its commitment to sustainable dining, and Manson looks forward to reintroducing the place to his regulars this winter.

Managing the busy kitchen at the BeachHouse, especially in season, must be an exercise in multitasking. How do you handle it?

When I get to work, I usually go through the kitchen and dining areas, greeting the management and staff. It’s a good way to get an overall picture of the day so far. Any problems tend to be brought to my attention immediately, and I like to put the “fires” out before I begin any food production or service. If everything is under control, I’ll assist my food preparation department by cutting the day’s fish and beef. The sous chef and I will meet to discuss menu features, employee issues and the evening night cook lineup. For hours, we cook and serve nonstop, occasionally having a few moments between waves to restock and catch our breath. The whole process is a juggling act. The night usually ends with thanking every employee for a job well done.

Do you have much time to spend with your family, or to relax?

My day usually starts by taking one of my daughters to school, and some days, it’s the only time I get to see her. If I don’t have to go into work early I’ll get some exercise, and handle a few errands and chores. When I have some free time, I’m taking care of my family’s needs and spending time with friends.

As the restaurant moves toward a more farm-to-table approach, how does that affect the produce and seafood offerings?

Our restaurant is invested in local, organic farms to show our guests we’re committed to bringing more farm-to-table menu items: Lettuces, greens, vegetables, berries and heirloom tomatoes. We’re also involved with our local fishermen to bring in the freshest local products possible. Many of our fish are even caught that day. We’ve been introduced to an age-old food preparation technique involving local mullet. The golden roe of the fish is removed and meticulously salt-cured until it is a perfect texture. The food is called bottarga and it is used as a spread or grated lightly on flat breads and pasta.

How will the BeachHouse renovations benefit customers?

If all goes well, our kitchen is near completion. We made the best use of the space and I have no doubt we’ll be able to provide our guests with the best seafood preparation and still maintain a family atmosphere. There is a plan in place to make our deck an upper deck, which will be serviced by a second-story kitchen and bar. There will be nothing like it on the West Coast of Florida, and it will be built in the fall.

Why should healthy, eco-conscious diners choose the BeachHouse?

The locavore movement drives many of our buying decisions and menu offerings. Providing locally grown produce and freshly caught seafood is part of our core mission, and we’re very in tune with the trends. Providing fresh, local products—whether it’s on our food menus or from our bar—makes for an authentic experience for our guests.

CRISPY SALMON OVER WARM POTATO SALAD WITH LUMP CRABMEAT

Ingredients:
4 6-ounce skin-on salmon cuts
1 ounce extra virgin olive oil

Method:
Score salmon with 1/4-inch cuts and sear skin-side first in a hot pan with oil. Turn fish and finish. Present fish skin-side up and balanced on potato salad.

For potato salad:
1 pound red bliss potatoes
¼ bunch scallions, chopped
8 ounces crab lump

Method:
Boil potatoes until tender. Allow to cool. Drizzle extra virgin olive oil, salt and pepper, and crush potatoes with a fork. Fold in scallions and lump crabmeat. Place a scoop of potato salad in the center of the plate and surround it with roasted heirloom tomatoes. Drizzle olive oil over the tomatoes.

Last modified: January 28, 2014
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