Genuine Cayman “Lionfish” Episode Preview: Safari of the Seafaring Kind, Plus Cooking Up Invasive Species in Miami

Meeting of the aquatic minds: (seated left to right) executive chef Thomas Tennant, Jason Washington (Ambassador Divers,) Michael, and James Gibb (Department of Environment.)

For the past year and a half, chef Thomas Tennant has made it his personal mission to eradicate the invasive population of lionfish off Cayman’s shores by combining his love of scuba diving and cooking.  Through a partnership with Ambassador Divers, the Lionfish Safari was born and with it the opportunity for our customers to get their feet wet, take part in our sourcing of fresh ingredients at the restaurant and enjoy a delicious meal at the end of the day.  Genuine food and drink, Genuine Cayman.

“Our first lionfish tournament was at Taste of Cayman 2011, and we have sponsored about five since then,” Thomas recalls.  “I would say on average I receive 50-60 pounds per week at the restaurant. So that would come out to around 2,860 pounds  since then that we received. Some weeks are good, some are not so good and some are excellent for product.  We love the not so good weeks just as much as the excellent ones — less lionfish in the water!”

In tonight’s episode of Michael’s new series on-island exploring the bounty of local ingredients Cayman has to offer, chef Thomas leads the way to a day out on the water with Jason Washington and his team, and a sweet and savory reward at the end — a big, aromatic bowl of Lionfish Chowder, for which you will find his recipe below.  Those of you in Miami can look forward to sampling lionfish and many other more invasive species caught locally when chef de cuisine Bradley Herron participates in Fertile Earth Foundation’s UnderGROUND Miami event on June 23.  We’ll have more on that on The Genuine Kitchen next month!

Tennant and Schwartz in the mix, chowder-style!

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Let’s Do the Time Lapse at MGFD

Rooting around Twitter the other day, I came upon this time lapse from one of our TGHG flock who has since flown the coop to pursue culinary and other adventures in Alaska, but whose talent behind the lens still lingers to inspire us.  And we hope you, too!  Please enjoy MGFD’s back-of-the-house staff as they move to the beat of a genuine service under the watchful gaze of a Canon 7D with Gorillapod rig.  We are closed for lunch today in observance of Memorial Day, but re-open for dinner at 5:30 p.m.

Let’s Play What’s in the Walk-In: Wild Ocean… Trout?

Say hello to Bradley’s little friend.

On a visit to the restaurant this morning to drop check-stuffers for Harry’s upcoming Animal Pizzeria, I ordered a chopped salad to bring back to the office for lunch.  I forgot to ask for mine just the way I like it, with croutons (we make some of the most addicting ones ever in my opinion – more on our secret later) so I popped into the kitchen to grab some before leaving.  Low and behold, chef de cuisine Bradley Herron was cutting fish in his usual spot  — but with an unusual specimen.  It looked like trout!

“River trout?” I asked, now all curious as to where these slim, hooked-mouth beauties came from.

“Nope. Wild Ocean Seafood trout,” Brad replied. “About 30 pounds came in.”

Is it just me, or have you also only had trout out in the landlocked west?  If so, you can try something new and get a taste of trout from the Atlantic tonight with Bradley’s dinner special. I smelled it all the way upstairs in our mezzanine without even knowing it: simply dredged in flour, pan fried in brown butter and finished with lemon and capers.  I asked him to describe the fish and how it eats from chefs perspective.

“It eats like a trout,” he continued. “Soft, medium to fine flake, crispy skin. It cooks super quick, skin side down, quick flip and it’s done. I’d drink something clean, like a crisp white with this dish.”

Tweet Wine Director Eric Larkee for some winning contenders on our wine list, and read my interview below with Chris Merrifield of Port Canaveral’s Wild Ocean Seafood who shares a little more about his trout source.  Michael and I will get to spend some more time with him next week, when he and other key members of the fishing industry gather for the Southeast Fisheries Association Annual meeting in the keys.  We’ll keep you posted!

It is On! Genuine Cayman’s Pizza Episode Airs Tonight & Hedy FN Dishes on the Afterlife of a Vanilla Bean

It’s always fun when our genuinely talented team shines outside of the restaurant. Hedy and Michael are doing just that today — and making us proud in the process! Check ’em out.

The Afterlife of a Vanilla Bean As previously reported, Hedy is now blogging sweet somethings on’s FN Dish. Hedy’s posts on FN Dish go live every other Wednesday and highlight her bold, playful approach to nostalgic treats and the sweet side of comfort food. In today’s post, her second, Hedy wastes not and wants not with the majestic vanilla bean. The treasure does not lie solely in the sticky beans inside!

Genuine Cayman: Pizza Episode In his debut television series, Genuine Cayman, Michael celebrates two years on-island by sharing the stories of Cayman’s own farmers and food sources. In tonight’s episode, cheffie heads to East End to visit with Patrick Panton and harvest some delicious calabaza for a hand-formed, thin crust pizza. Just how we like it. Find the recipe below, with a clip of how it comes together in our kitchen at Camana Bay.

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