Chef Lindsay Autry Shares Southern Classics with a Mediterranean Twist

VIDEO PRODUCED BY NATHAN MIKITA

On this episode of Foodable’s Smart Kitchen and Bar, Chef Lindsay Autry gives us a taste of her fall menu while discussing her farm-to-table restaurant, fall flavor inspiration, and even her childhood with our host, Paul Barron.

Chef Autry’s cooking journey started at a young age. Her family owned a peach orchard, and she began competing in food competitions, hosted by the 4-H youth organization, around age 9. They lived an authentic farm-to-table lifestyle, which means that for her, farm-to-table was a way of life.

“For us, that was the way it was. You got up, and you learned how to raise the [animals], so you learned the appreciation of it, and then you said goodbye to them and moved on,” says Chef Lindsay.

Now, as the executive chef of The Regional Kitchen and Public House in West Palm Beach, FL, she brings that farm-to-table experience through her restaurant and her dishes.

“We’re called The Regional because we’re embedded in our community. We support local businesses not only with farms and purveyors but also the woodworkers that build our booths, the lighting, and everything else. I like to call it The American Kitchen,” says Autry.

Although the restaurant is located in sunny South Florida where it’s summer year-round, it doesn’t discourage Chef Lindsay from creating her fall menu. She wants chefs to be creative and not conform to what a magazine thinks or what people think you should be eating in fall. Her creativity shines beyond the typical fall dish such as butternut squash soup, and she focuses on the flavors she loves. Her menu centers around southern cuisine with a Mediterranean touch to give it more depth of flavor.

Sometimes her menu may get a few head scratches when a patron sees a traditional dish with a unique ingredient. However, Lindsay concentrates on making her cuisine more approachable with easy to understand descriptions. Also, the staff knows how to answer if someone asks the question of, “why did you use this ingredient in this dish?”

“Our staff explains to our customers, ‘the chef grew up cooking with her grandma who’s greek,’ and for whatever reason, that always makes them trust you a little bit more,” says Chef Lindsay.

Watch the video above to learn how to make Chef Autry's fall dishes!

Pickled Shrimp

Ingredients:

  • 1 pound medium pink shrimp; shell-on preferably

  • 3 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning; divided

  • ½ tsp. celery seeds

  • 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil

  • 3 lemons; zested and juiced

  • ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped

  • 2 tbsp. fresh dill, picked into small pieces

  • ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes

  • 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped

  • 12 dried bay leaves

  • ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise

Directions:

Bring 2 tbsp. of Old Bay seasoning and 8 cups of water to a boil in a 4-qt saucepan. Add shrimp, reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink (about 2 minutes). Drain and transfer to bowl of ice water to chill. Drain again. Peel and devein the shrimp if using shell-on.

Combine all remaining ingredients, including 1 tbsp. of Old Bay in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the chilled shrimp and toss to mix well.

Store shrimp an liquid in a glass jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.

Sweet Tea Brined Fried Chicken

Ingredients:

  • 6-8 pieces of chicken – your choice on the cut

  • 2 cups buttermilk

  • 2 whole eggs

  • 4 cups all-purpose flour; divided

  • 2 cups wondra flour

  • 2 cups cornstarch

  • 6 cups vegetable oil for frying

  • 1 quart freshly brewed tea

  • Zest of 1 lemon, removed with a vegetable peeler

  • 1 cup sugar

  • 1/2 cup kosher salt

  • 1 quart ice water

Directions:

Combine the tea, lemon zest, sugar, and salt in a saucepan and simmer for 2 to 3 minutes, until the salt and sugar are dissolved. Remove from heat, add the ice water and cool completely. Submerge the chicken pieces in the liquid, cover, and refrigerate for 24 - 48 hours (a sprig of Rosemary is great to add).

If you don’t have time to brine - season the chicken with salt on all sides and set on paper towels to absorb the moisture while you prepare the other ingredients.

Prepare 3 containers for your breading.

  • 2 cups Plain all-purpose flour

  • Buttermilk and whole eggs whisked until blended

  • Mix of equal parts - AP flour, wondra, and corn starch

Pat the chicken dry with paper towels. Coat each piece lightly the plain flour and shake off the excess. Dip in the buttermilk and egg batter, and finally in the breader.

Pour the oil into a large cast-iron skillet and heat over medium heat until a pinch of flour sprinkled into the oil immediately bubbles or a deep-frying thermometer registers 325°F. Alternatively, fill a deep fryer and pre-heat to 325°F.

Working in batches, fry the chicken pieces, adjusting the heat as necessary to maintain the oil temperature. Cook for 5 minutes, flip, and cook for 7 minutes more.

*If using a deep fryer, remove the chicken once it is crispy and floating. Let cool for at least 1 minute and return to fryer for additional 2 minutes (will come out much crispier and ensures the carry-over cooking happens).

The juices should run clear when the thickest part is pierced, and an instant-read thermometer should register 165°F.

Cava Acquires Mediterranean Fast Casual Chain Zoës Kitchen

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The Meditteranean brand Cava announced that it will be acquiring its competitor Zoës Kitchen for $300 million, or for roughly $12.75 per share.

Will one of these fast casual chains become the Panera of the Mediterranean market?

It appears as though Ron Shaich, Panera Bread's founder, and former CEO is betting on it. 

The Cava Group is getting its fund investment for the acquisition from Act III Holdings which is led by Shaich.

When it comes to the Mediterranean category, there's a lot of potential for growth. The fast casual segment has become saturated with pizza, Mexican, and burger concepts all competing for the same millennial consumer. However, there is a small percentage of Mediterranean fast casual chains competing in this space. 

Cava, which is a spin-off concept from the full-service restaurant Cava Mezze, has grown over 70 percent over the past three years. There are now 327 Cava stores. 

We visited Cava back when it only had 25 units. Check out the video below to hear Cava Founder and Chef Dimitri Moshovitis as he shared with us some of the tricks to Cava’s success.

Although Cava is on the rise, not all Mediterranean-style restaurant chains, including Zoës have been as successful. 

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"Competitor Noon Mediterranean, formerly Verts Mediterranean Grill, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection earlier this week and even Zoes has struggled," writes "CNBC." "In the first quarter, Zoes posted a net loss of $3.6 million, and saw sales its restaurants open at least one year fall 2.3 percent. Zoes saw a stretch of same-store sales declines throughout 2017, which followed a period of rapid expansion that resulted in high employee turnover at its restaurants and managers who had less experienced than needed."

Does Cava Group have what it takes to take Zoës Kitchen to the next level? 

“This truly allows us to reach guests in all markets, whether it is the coast or in-between,” said Brett Schulman, CAVA CEO in an interview. “We’re looking forward to learning more about the Zoe’s business and understanding how we can apply a lot of the digital capabilities we’ve built through the years at CAVA."

Read more about the big fast casual merger at "Reuters." 

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group set to acquire Barteca for $325 Million in Cash

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group set to acquire Barteca for $325 Million in Cash

Del Frisco’s Restaurant Group, the Irving, Texas-based company known for its upscale steakhouses, announced it will be acquiring the Barteca Restaurant Group for $325million.

Announced Monday, the deal is expected to be complete by the end of the second quarter.

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Diets As A Belief Structure May Be Causing Consumers to Eat Out Less

Diets As A Belief Structure May Be Causing Consumers to Eat Out Less
  • Vegan, Paleo, Ketogenic, Mediterranean, TLC, and Dash Diet all have common principles.  

  • Restaurants should consider do more for these diet trends. 

It didn't seem long ago when losing inches off the waist was pretty much the sole goal of the dieting masses. Today? Well, "diet" is going deity; each "diet's" dogma filling people's stomachs with a sense of purpose and for some even hope.   People with epilepsy and diabetes are told the Ketogenic diet has massive and sustainable health benefits. It is reported that staying true to the Mediterranean diet with help you live longer and have fewer health issues on average. For us, restaurant people... let's not forget the biblical flood of people that changed the foodservice landscape forever with gluten-free requests and needs.   And, of course, there is the vegan diet, which is the best example of the "diet" becoming more about "this is what I stand for and believe" and less about the waistline.  In short, the consumer of today is less likely to frequent restaurants that don't consider their "diet" and restaurants the flock is growing. 

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