Flying Fish

The Finest Dining In The Caribbean

The Finest Dining in the Caribbean.  AAA 4 Diamond Award winner 2014 & 2015, Named #2 Restaurant in the Caribbean by TripAdvisor 2014, Named #9-2014 & #8-2015 Restaurant in the Caribbean by Caribbean Journal, Named  #11 Chef in the Caribbean by Caribbean Journal, Fodor's Recommended, TripAdvisor Traveler's Choice Award, Top 5 Restaurants Worth Travelling For by Fort Lauderdale Daily

 

Happy New Year

Happy New Year to all of our followers, supporters, staff, friends etc.   Every year around this time we come to some realizations about our lives, our work lives our situations as we see them... Also, every year we have a company staff meeting to air grievances that are growing to nip things in the bud.  However, this year, we are taking stock of our lives.  We are almost finishing our fourth year at Flying Fish.  We have achieved recognition we could never have imagined but have not achieved any financial success.  

We live in a strange market.   For the most part you work 5 months of busy season to survive the next 7 months of slow season.  This year has been our best year since we began this and hopefully we will see our first profit in our existence.  While most people don't think it wise to discuss your businesses financial status, I think it helps people understand what we deal with every day.  We are not looking for sympathy of any kind.  The reality of doing business like we do business in the Bahamas and especially Grand Bahama is that you must never expect to do well.  You simply hope to survive and do better the next year.  We have done better every year since we started but still struggle.  We have always tried to do the right thing.  We always have tried to make our people feel better about their lives.  

However...Here's the reality.  I am a chef who was trained by chefs who beat us into submission.  I have still got issues with anger and outbursts of emotion.  And they never had to apologize for their behaviour.  They were intentionally trying to weed out the weak.  Those that crumbled under that pressure certainly would never survive hard intense services on really busy nights.  We didn't want those weak people around when it counted.

However, times are changing.  One thing we have been very good at is changing.  This is a difficult one for me but we will change.  We have come to the realization that as times change, only those willing to adapt survive.  We have also come to the realization that we are also in need to change the old school need to work ourselves to death as well as our staff.  This year we will work what we need to make it happen but enough to stay energized.  We will make a conscious decision to make a living, but more importantly, make a life.  We will travel more.  We will spend time with friends as often as possible.  We will do everything in our power to continue to be energized and creative and to help to nourish the creativity of our team.  

I have been cooking now for 23 years professionally, and I feel like the game has changed.  I am most interested now in continuing our creativity.  It will be imperative that we spend time creating every day.  Every week the team will have their own input into my mind.  And me into theirs.

The thing about that is....90% of my kitchen team has little to no experience.  Even my right hand man and Chef de Cuisine Tito, was entirely trained by me.  It is so difficult to try and harness youthful ideas that have no basis for reality.  However, I remember something that changed my life forever.  When I was an apprentice my chef at the time asked us each to come up with a dish, The best one went on the menu.  That dish is my Calamari with Brown Butter.  Without that dish, my life would be completely different.  I think it's important to foster growth like this.   However, I had already run restaurants when I got that opportunity.  

It is difficult to find the balance between giving people the opportunity to contribute to the creativity of the kitchen and keeping the quality of the food at its highest level.  How do you keep people from becoming upset or offended when their ideas don't make the cut.  We will have to see how this plays out but I will definitely do my best to give everyone a say.  My senior team of Chef Tito Edden, who is my right hand, Chef Chelly Brown, who runs our pastry section and one of my dearest and oldest kitchen friends Shanin Weber-Hughes have all had their stamp on our menu.  90% of all the food still comes from me.  But we all are getting a say.  It's important for people to have a feeling like they are contributing in a meaningful way.  It is a big issue for us, to manage everyone in a way that keeps people motivated.  However, it is more important that the future of Flying Fish is to be the best restaurant the Caribbean has even known.  In that regard, we will continue on our path to be the best on the table and in the workplace.

Have a great 2016,

Chef Tim

Personal Ramblings Of The Chef...

As we approach the end of another year we always like to take stock on what we have accomplished in the previous year and whether we have improved over the same time.  2015 was a good year for us at Flying Fish.  From a business standpoint it was our best year since opening and will hopefully finally start seeing returns on the investments.  Professionally, it was also a good year for us as we were able to do much more travelling than we've done in years past including big trips to Spain, Haiti and our 2 week working cruise of the Caribbean.  We have been very fortunate to have seen a great many things and experienced more life changing moments this year than in any year before this as well.  

The restaurant is starting to really garner a great reputation internationally.  We see it when we travel.  People know who we are and what we do much more than ever before and we seem to have made good strides in solidifying the reputation of quality throughout the region.  Because of that we moved up one spot in the Top 50 Restaurants of the Caribbean list to #8 from #9 in the year previous.  

We also were awarded our most precious award, the AAA 4 Diamond award for the second straight year.  That one is very special to us.  It is very difficult to be presented with that award as many of my chef friends can attest.  It is exceptionally hard to do it twice in a row.  The pressure to maintain is very difficult on everyone.  All the while, we know that awards and acknowledgement do not pay the bills.  So we tread a tightrope of creativity with commercial viability in a difficult market.  

We have been fortunate to have been able to survive our first three years, now well into our 4th, by being flexible on the presentation but remaining true to the core values and creativity that allows us to be recognized by the rest of the world.  

None of this is possible alone.

We have such a wonderful group of people who treat Flying Fish as if it were their own.  Who keep everything rolling along smoothly, even when we aren't here, allowing us to travel and gain more exposure and more experiences to draw inspirations from.  Without our core group of senior staff stepping up to do the job, it would not be possible.

That being said, i like being in my kitchen.  We have had so many opportunities to talk about expansion, and there are many concepts that I would love to try my hand at.  But right now I think I am most content in making this place the best place to be.  We will work diligently over the next year to make Flying Fish the best restaurant in the Caribbean and hopefully we will attain our dream of being in the Top 50 in the world.  

We are looking at Grand Bahama closely to see what's coming down the pipeline.  We will be doing some infrastructure changes next year, hopefully the biggest is a new kitchen....But we shall see what the New Year brings.  It will also have me renewed in my goal to finish a book of Flying Fish food and my personal ramblings.  It is important to us the we continue to improve every day.  Just a little bit better than the day before.  

Thank you for your support and patronage.  Without it we wouldn't be here.  I was everyone the Happiest and Most Joyous of Holiday Seasons and the very best for the New Year.

Tim        

Flying Fish represented on Holland America Cruise Line

Chef Tim & Rebecca took to the high seas as culinary guests of Holland America cruise line.  As a special feature of the m/s Oosterdam, 12 days in November, the ship hosted “Sip, Savor & Sail” themed events. 

Tim hosted cooking demonstrations in the ship’s Culinary Arts Center (presented by Food & Wine magazine) for a full house.  His signature grilled calamari with brown butter, capers, roasted garlic & tomato was an instant hit.  The next cooking demonstration was sweet pea risotto with crispy skin snapper.  

Rebecca co-hosted a premium wine tasting event with the ship’s cellar master outlining some of the m/s Oosterdam’s fine wine collection and a magic of food and wine pairing session.  Rebecca also had 2 deep at several of the ship’s bars for rum cocktail mixology and tropical cocktail mixology classes.

Chef Tim’s popular Mahi Mahi with coconut rice, mango salad and sweet chili sauce was featured in the main dining room gaining rave reviews from hundreds of passengers.  Tim hosted a 3 course Calypso Brunch to a sold out dining room featuring beet cured wahoo, butter poached lobster eggs benedict and banana bread French toast.

Tim & Rebecca hosted “Sip & Savour” events featuring a daily hors d’oeuvre and a skillfully paired glass of wine.  The duo also entertained guests with a Question & answer panel discussion on topics like how they met to how they conduct business to what kind of pan to use for cooking certain items.

Recipes cards were provided for participants and there were no cards left at the end of the events!  This Sip, Savor & Sail themed week put Grand Bahama and Flying Fish on the map for lots of travellers from all over the globe.

Pairings in Paradise: Selecting Wines, Infusing Cocktails and Satisfying Palates on Grand Bahama Island

Pairings in Paradise: Selecting Wines, Infusing Cocktails and Satisfying Palates on Grand Bahama Island

By Rebecca Tibbitts, Sommelier, Flying Fish

It was 2007 when I became a Sommelier: I wanted to deepen both my knowledge and enjoyment of fine dining, an industry in which I’ve worked much of my adult life.  I’ve always found it a joy to explore and experiment with different wine styles and pairings, using aromatic infusions and uniquely tropical flavours to delight (and often surprise) our guests at Flying Fish.

For a restaurant on a small island, catering to guests with global palates does come with some challenges. With balmy-to-hot temperatures all year - although great for a Nova Scotian like me – it does require extra care for our wines. Shipping and cellaring at the optimal temperatures is, of course, critical. And using wine cooling gadgets like frozen sleeves are especially important in the peak summer months, where crisp, clean white wines are usually the preference du jour.

Because import duties can significantly raise the cost of wines we bring onto the island, I like to choose clever, “not found everyday” wines that our guests will see on the menu and think, “what a unique wine I hadn’t thought of!

This also presents me with another challenge, as I don’t have the luxury of doing tastings before placing orders with négociants and wine suppliers. Thus, I’ll rely on my knowledge of the myriad wine regions, styles, wine makers and varietals before ordering.  Thankfully, only a few of the wines have been a disappointment.

Deciding on pairings
When deciding on the pairings, my first priority is meal progression. Then I’ll I consider flavours, region and style. Once in a while, I’ll try to sneak in wines that surprise guests, especially diners who say they don’t like a particular type (e.g., “I don’t like Chardonnay”). I help them understand that grape varieties can vary a lot based on their terroir, and that it might actually be the barrel (steel, oak, or an oak barrel previously used to age Cognac) and not the grape – that created an earlier, less-than desirable impression. I really encourage our guests to keep an open mind about trying new wines.

I’ll often start off with a bottle of bubbly to introduce the Bahamian dining experience. Sparkling wine gets our digestion juices flowing and readies the palate for more. I prefer sparkling wines made in the traditional style, méthode champenoise, as the bubbles are a bit more robust compared to other effervescent styles.  Cava, traditionally from Spain, is another favourite for flavour and price, but Rosé champagne tops my list!

Wine styles that suit the surroundings

When it comes to white wines, a trusty “go-to” is Viognier. Originally from the Condrieu region in the Rhône Valley, this full-bodied grape variety has been gaining popularity with both wine makers and drinkers in North America. Its low-acidity with limited oak ageing makes it perfect for rich seafood and shellfish dishes. Yet, because it’s not a widely known grape and style, I still have to persuade some of our guests to order it. Those who do almost always order another bottle!

Another white from Europe, the Austrian Grüner Veltliner is also a great wine for our Bahamian climate. It’s fresh and lively without the sometimes overbearing or overly perfumed citrus, grapefruit and melon notes of a Sauvignon Blanc. I’ll also recommend a cool-climate Pinot Noir from Oregon or Washington State to accompany some of our main course dishes.

For the World Gourmet Society Festival pairings, I chose wines that gradually progress from lighter to fuller bodied through the course of the meal. As Bahamian food typically involves lots of starches in one sitting, I wanted to ensure the wines would not “bog down” the courses by feeling too heavy or overpowering. The fried chicken dish, for example, features a light red that goes very well with the peas and rice more so than with the actual chicken. My favourite combination, however, was the incredible Bahamian stone crab, which I paired with a Viognier – it was vigorous to match the richness of the crab, and provided just the right amount of complexity to match the mustard’s spiciness and lushness of sauce’s egg yolk.

Infusing Bahamian flair

Grand Bahama Island, where our restaurant is located, has been the inspiration for a number of infused cocktails. As even the most basic spirit can take on deep flavours, I have focused on introducing local Caribbean flavours that will compliment the dishes we’re creating in the kitchen.

 Mango is probably the most quintessential of Caribbean ingredients, and our cocktail list features a mango cilantro margarita – which is one of the most popular cocktails we serve. Another favourite is the “cool breeze” cocktail, a spicy and refreshing mix of coconut vodka, freshly muddled pineapple with coconut water, and jalapeno pepper.  Are you thirsty yet?

 We’re also lucky to have John Watlings, a Nassau distillery that produces artisan rums and vodka, in the Islands. We feature two of their products: the Red Turtle Vodka for our “dirty turtle martini” with blue cheese-stuffed olives, and the Watlings rum mixed with pineapple juice and another local liqueur, Nassau Royale, to create our “Bahamian Sunset.”

A truly unique experience in the Bahamas
The location of our Bahamian island provides our guests with fine dining (and drinking) opportunities that are unique and cannot be found elsewhere – not even in the Bahamas!

It’s always a thrill to create satisfying food and dining experiences in a place that feels like paradise, I honestly couldn’t think of anywhere else I would rather be doing this. Ultimately, my goal is to maximize our gorgeous setting and the local fare as the foundation of inspired – and inspiring - food and drink creations that will fulfill and enrich our guests’ palates time and again.

Happy Holidays!

Christmas has passed and New Year's is upon us.  It’s a very busy time for us.  But I wanted to take a few moments to reflect on all the things I’m grateful for and things that I hope for in the coming year.  No resolutions for me.  I don’t believe in them.  Success is not made by resolutions.  In order for a resolution to exist, you needed to be previously complacent about something you now wish to change.  I’ve learned to just do it the first time and save a lot of energy.  It’s one of the greatest lessons I teach my team. 

 

I am so humbled by what we have achieved at Flying Fish this year and the year still isn’t over.  I know there is still one more, big list to be revealed in the next week or so and I’m hoping for a very good result.  More on that in a moment, but first, this is our 2014 in a nutshell:

 

We started 2014 with a wonderful review from Foder’s.  It’s one of the world’s largest travel books and is used by millions of people annually.  The highest accolade in the book is to be “Foder’s Recommended” and we were fortunate enough to get that distinction early in 2014.  We knew we were in for a big year from this point forward but had now idea just how big.

 

In February I was named #11 of the Top 25 Chefs of the Caribbean by Caribbean Journal magazine.  It is the top magazine in the region for all things Caribbean.  I was so floored by this honor, as our restaurant didn’t make the Top 50 list that was released just a month before.  Apparently we made our way onto someone’s radar just after the restaurant list was released to get such an honor. 

 

In April, we were stunned to be awarded with a 4 Diamond Award from AAA.  It is equivalent to 1-2 Michelin starred restaurants, as a lot of other 4 Diamond recipients in larger cities have the stars as well.  This was probably the biggest award of the year for us.  The criteria are insane.  Judging takes 3 months.  Every aspect of the restaurant is judged from the phone mannerisms to the décor. From the plates and cutlery to the style of service.  From the chairs to the music.  Every aspect of the restaurant is heavily scrutinized.  This award is so important to many that even the celebrity chefs I have met this year don’t have it in their restaurants.  We are the first in Grand Bahama history to earn it, and the third in the history of the Bahamas.  There are less than 30 in the entire Caribbean.  That’s crazy.

 

In early May I was invited to the inaugural Minority Chef’s Summit in Nassau to benefit the Culinary department at the College of the Bahamas.  Chefs from around the world came together to work with the students, collaborate, discuss, demonstrate and learn from one another.  It was 1 of the highlights of my year.  Great relationships came from this event.  So many great chefs have become great friends because of it and a core group of students who were involved have started to realize what it takes to be a top level chef.  I’m looking forward to doing this again in the upcoming year. 

 

At the end of May we hired a new PR team to do all the things we were starting to have trouble getting done while running this place.  It was the best thing we did for our business this year.  The team at ThinkInk is spectacular.  We have had so many incredible opportunities and so much media attention because of their hard work to get us noticed.  Sometimes it really is better to leave it to a professional.

 

July 10th was a career groundbreaker for me. I was fortunate enough to be invited to join Chef Anthony Lamas to cook at James Beard House in New York City.  For those who don’t know, JBH is the “Carnegie Hall” of the food world.  Only the best chefs get to cook there.  It was an incredible experience and working with Anthony helped me to see what it takes to get to the next level.  He’s become a great friend and a great person to bounce ideas off of.  He’s been so successful in his career that it’s nice to have someone at that level to talk to about how to proceed. 

 

August meant another trip back to New York City to do a charity event featuring top Caribbean chefs from around the region.  It was a fun event and I met some very important people on that trip.  The first being Michael Laskonis who was the chef responsible for the single best bite of food I ever ate more than 5 years ago.  He’s now the director of culinary education at the Institute for Culinary Education in NYC.  I was stunned when he walked into the prep kitchen we were working in.  Nice, down to earth guy who gave up his job at one of the finest restaurants in the world to teach kids to cook.  He is one of a kind.  Next is DeAnne Gibson, the director of culinary tourism for the Ministry of Tourism.  She is such a sweet person and would give you the shirt off her back.  She toted 30 pounds of conch and 192 lobster tails to New York City for me for the event and only 48 hours after lobster season had opened.  It was an amazing display.  I love working with DeAnne and look forward to working with her again soon.

 

September we took to the road on a culinary road trip of the South.  In Charleston we met up with my friend Kevin Mitchell, who we met through the Minority Chef Summit.  He is the director of Culinary Arts at the College of Charleston.  He gave us some great insight into the food and restaurant scene in one of the most beautiful cities in America.

 

After that it was off to Louisville, Kentucky for a collaboration dinner with my good friend Anthony Lamas again, this time at his restaurant Seviche.  We did a 9 course tasting menu, trading off courses, with Rebecca pairing wines with each course.  It was a big hit with those who attended.  I look forward to doing another of those here.

 

In October the media really started; we were named 1 of the “5 Top restaurants worth travelling for” by Fort Lauderdale Daily.  There were also many features in different magazines and an interview in USAToday.  It was a whirlwind month that would just get crazier as November hit. I was also given a wonderful award from the Ministry Of Tourism for my contribution to Bahamian Culinary Arts, as part of Culinary Tourism month in a ceremony in Nassau.

 

November brought us another special award from right here in Grand Bahama.  We were awarded the Grand Bahama Chamber Of Commerce Developing Entrepreneur of the Year award for 2014.  It was very special to win an award that was chosen by the business community of Grand Bahama.   To be recognized by your peers is always special.  Mid month we were named the #2 Restaurant in the Caribbean by TripAdvisor for 2014.  We also received a Traveller’s Choice Award: the only Bahamian restaurant to receive one this year. 

 

The end of the month we held an event that I will always remember.  My 3 best culinary friends in the Bahamas came to the restaurant to do an event with me.  A spectacular 13 course meal that left everyone speechless.  It was an unforgettable night with many young cooks joining us in the kitchen for the experience.  It was definitely one of the highlights on my year.

 

It’s now December.  There’s one list left to come out.  The Top 50 Restaurants list from Caribbean Journal will be released in the coming days.  Last year we were very disappointed that we didn’t make the list.  I know this year we will be on it but the question remains, where will we be?  We are hoping for the Top 5 but I’ll be happy in the Top 10.  That is my Christmas wish: to end the year with a bang!  My team deserves it.  They’ve worked so hard this year to maintain the standard, even with me being away from the kitchen so much.  That speaks volumes about how good they can cook.

 

I hope for an even bigger 2015.  There are so many opportunities coming in the coming year.  We hope to grow even bigger and continue to be a catalyst for the return of Grand Bahama.  We hope to see all of our friends and colleagues here in Grand Bahama flourish in the New Year.  So from us here at Flying Fish to all of you in Grand Bahama, Happy Holidays and all the best for the coming year!

 

 

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