Travel and Lifestyle

September, 2011

Chefs Tell: Hilton Head Island

Waynette Goodson and Tara Titcombe

Local chefs bask in the Island’s bounty, serving up farm-fresh veggies and straight-off-the-docks shrimp. Perhaps the most notable chef to hit the Hilton Head scene, Robert Irvine (of Food Network’s Dinner: Impossible) delivers innovative dishes at Robert Irvine’s eat! “I chose Hilton Head to open eat! because of the people,” he says. “Hilton Head is a great melting pot of Carolinians, northern transplants, and Europeans, which gives the island a unique customer base and cultural balance.” At eat!, dinner isn’t just a meal, it’s an experience. Share tapas like the braised chicken pizzetta; then dive into Irvine’s favorite, the Korean short ribs with pineapple kimchee.

Irvine’s eat! is one of more than 200 restaurants on this small island (just 42 square miles). To him, it feels like home. “The Island first made me feel welcome,” Irvine says, “and now eat! has become part of the island family.” So pull up a chair at to connect with the Culinary Insider, and be sure to check out our recommendations.

The Jazz Corner

Chef Mark Gaylord has worked in a kitchen since he was 11 years old, and today, at the age of 44, he has found a home at The Jazz Corner, known for great jazz, blues, and gourmet dining. Think Roasted Chicken & Sweet Potato Chowder followed by Mustard & Herb-Encrusted Swordfish, with Key Lime and Blueberry Soufflé for dessert.

Acclaimed as one of the top 150 great jazz rooms in the world by DownBeat magazine, The Jazz Corner sets the stage for world-class musicians. Expect The Jason Marsalis Vibes Quartet and international songbird Daline Jones this month.

Meanwhile, the restaurant boasts world-class Southern cuisine. Chef Gaylord’s cooking philosophy? “Start with good ingredients. You can’t go wrong,” he says. “We pride ourselves on getting the freshest ingredients.” Good eats and live jazz nightly — perhaps the perfect note.

Bacon-Wrapped Pork Tenderloin with Blueberry Demi-Glace and Peach Butter

For the pork tenderloin:
2 pork tenderloins, trimmed and cut into 4 portions
4 cloves garlic, chopped
1 large shallot, chopped
1 tbs. chopped rosemary
1 tbs. chopped cilantro
2 oz. olive oil
8 slices applewood-smoked bacon

For the blueberry demi-glace:
1 oz. clarified butter
2 shallots, split and thinly sliced
1/2 cup port wine
1 oz. blueberry vinegar
1 oz. blackberry brandy
3/4 cup veal demi-glace
1/4 tsp. Chinese 5-spice powder
1/2 tsp. salt
1/4 tsp. black pepper
2 tsp. light brown sugar
1/2 cup dried blueberries

For the peach butter:
2 cups frozen peaches
1/4 cup granulated sugar
1/4 cup peach schnapps
1/4 tsp. ground cinnamon
1/2 tsp. salt
1/8 tsp. cayenne pepper
1/8 tsp. ground nutmeg

1/4 lb. unsalted butter at room temperature

Preheat oven to 375 degrees. Coat pork tenderloin with all ingredients and tightly wrap 2 slices of bacon around each portion. Heat a sauté pan over medium-high heat and sear pork until bacon is crispy. Turn pork and repeat. Turn one more time; then place pork in oven.

For the blueberry demi-glace, heat clarified butter in a saucepan over medium heat and sauté shallots until translucent. Add port wine, blueberry vinegar, and, blackberry brandy and bring to a simmer. Add all remaining ingredients and bring back to a simmer for five minutes and remove from heat.

For the peach butter, place all ingredients except butter into a sauce pot over high heat and reduce the liquid by one-third. Remove from stove, let cool for 10 minutes, add to food processor, and puree while slowly adding the butter. Refrigerate.

When pork is cooked to desired temperature, remove from oven and let stand for 3–5 minutes. Slice each portion into 3 even pieces; place over blueberry demi-glace and top with peach butter.

Michael Anthony’s Cucina Italiana

Chef Michael Cirafesi first learned the art of Italian cooking from his grandmother. That experience became the powerful force that lead to his life’s vocation and love of all things Italian. Chef Cirafesi adheres to the Italian philosophy that food should be simple — a few flavors perfectly blended together on a plate where food is the star. Today Michael Anthony’s is synonymous with traditional Italian cuisine. The restaurant serves up a fine-dining experience to discriminating diners; the cooking school provides instruction to those with an interest in classic Italian dishes; and The Market offers quality ingredients to home cooks for their own creations. Michael Anthony’s is a complete source of epicurean delight.

Carpaccio di Manzo
Beef Carpaccio

8–10 oz. beef tenderloin
1 5-oz. package arugula
2 tbs. capers
shaved Parmigiano-Reggiano
juice of 2 lemons
extra virgin olive oil
sea salt
freshly ground black pepper

Tightly wrap beef in plastic wrap and place in freezer for 2–3 hours or until firm. Remove beef from freezer and unwrap. While still frozen, shave into paper-thin slices using a mandoline, meat slicer, or electric knife. Arrange slices of meat on 4 plates. Place arugula in center of plate and top with shaved Parmigiano. Lightly salt beef slices and then drizzle with lemon juice followed by extra virgin olive oil. Garnish with capers and freshly ground black pepper. Serve immediately. Serves 4.

HH Prime

Chef Simon Warren believes in keeping things simple and using the best quality ingredients at HH Prime in the Hilton Oceanfront Resort. His prime ribeye is only seasoned with kosher salt and black peppercorn, and then basted in butter. The secret is in the selection: HH Prime only serves prime aged steaks chosen from the top 2 percent of all USDA beef, which is then dry aged for 14–21 days. “We offer a great product,” Warren says. “And we have a modern restaurant with live music five nights a week. It’s a huge draw for locals and guests of the hotel, which is a very charming and beautiful property.” Diners also enjoy fresh seafood and an ocean view. Sign us up!

Jumbo Lump Crab Cakes with a Dill Mustard Sauce

For the crab cakes:
1 lb. jumbo lump crabmeat
1/2 oz. chopped chives
1/2 oz. red bell peppers
4 oz. mayonnaise
2 oz. Dijon mustard
5 oz. panko bread crumbs
juice and zest of 1 lemon

For the dill mustard sauce:
2 oz. Dijon mustard
2 oz. whole-grain mustard
4 oz. mayonnaise
juice of 1 lemon
juice of 1 orange
1 tbs. chopped fresh dill

For the crab cakes, mix together mayonnaise, mustard, and lemon juice and zest. Add chives and bell peppers. Gently fold in crab meat; try to avoid breaking it up. Then gently fold in bread crumbs and store in refrigerator for at least 1 hour. Form into patties and pan-fry in butter until golden brown.

For the dill mustard sauce, mix mayonaise, mustard, and lemon and orange juice together. Add chopped dill, and season with salt and pepper to taste.

Serves 4.

Hudson’s Seafood

What’s for dinner at Hudson’s Seafood? Whatever came in on the boats that day. “We’re on the water, and this morning the boats brought in local black bass, so we’re serving that tonight,” says chef Chris Carge, whose cooking philosophy is to “keep it local and simple.” This formula has worked for Hudson’s since it began as an oyster-packing facility in the early 1920s. Today, boats still dock there and unload shrimp daily. Diners go for the fresh catches, especially the blackened local mahi-mahi — served with a side of Southern hospitality. Fresh fish, friendly service, and a sweeping view of Port Royal Sound. Y’all are sure to come back!

Blackened Local Mahi-Mahi with Spinach, Jumbo Lump Crab, and Parmesan Crust

4 mahi-mahi filets, 7 oz. each
Hudson’s Blackening Season
2 oz. fresh jumbo lump crabmeat
1 cup spinach
2 tbs. mayonnaise
2 tbs. Parmesan

Preheat oven to 350 degrees. Lightly season fish with blackening season. Sauté in pan on both sides for about a minute. While fish is cooking, in a mixing bowl add mayonnaise, crab, spinach, and Parmesan. Remove fish from pan and place spinach mixture on top. Cook in oven for about 8 minutes. Serves 4. For the full recipe, go to

SERG Restaurant Group

Talk about a full plate (full of fresh seafood and local produce, of course)! As the corporate chef for SERG Restaurant Group, Nick Unangst is a partner in Frankie Bones Restaurant & Lounge, The Black Marlin Bayside Grill, and WiseGuys, as well as the executive chef and managing partner at Skull Creek Boathouse. “Working with SERG has given me the opportunity to create distinct dining experiences at each of the individual restaurants,” Unangst says, “while assuring that customers find consistent quality and value.” Locals flock to SERG restaurants not just for value, but for atmosphere. “It’s like we get to host a party every night,” Unangst says. A party that serves up flavors of the South like the signature Seafood Throwdown, the Boathouse version of traditional Lowcountry Boil.

South Carolina Peach Salsa

3 1/2 cups peaches, peeled and diced
1/4 cup small green onion, chopped
1 tbs. ginger, peeled and grated
2 tbs. cilantro, finely chopped
1 small jalapeno, seeded and  minced (add more for a spicier salsa)
2 tbs. red bell pepper, finely diced
2 1/2 tbs. rice wine vinegar
salt and pepper to taste

Mix all ingredients, refrigerate 3–4 hours before serving. Serve with grilled fish, chicken, or pork. Yields 3 1/2 cups.

The Smokehouse

Perfecting the art of barbecue for more than a decade, The Smokehouse is the place for meat lovers. Think full racks of dry-rubbed baby back ribs, mounds of hand-pulled pork, and premium cuts of hand-trimmed brisket, all smoked for optimum taste. ’Cue guru Jerry Leonard says the secret to a great rib is “the right size loin back, a magical blend of rib rub spices, and a perfect combination of smoke, time, and temperature.”

But there’s more to The Smokehouse than just barbecue. The menu is stacked with steaks, burgers, award-winning chili and wings, garden fresh salads, and fresh catch options. Locals love The Smokehouse, awarding it Rib Burnoff Champion ten years in a row, nine-time Chili Cookoff winner, and four-time WingFest Champion. Bonus: A hip atmosphere complete with full bar, outdoor patio and fireplace, and dining room with a retractable wall to let in the fresh Southern air.

Marleys Island Grille

Taste the tropics at Marleys Island Grille, where the vibe is upbeat, the sangria is house-made, and the food is sublime, or rather sub-Key-lime. “I like to incorporate the tropical flavors of the Caribbean, but at the same time, keep things simple,” says chef Brad Blake. Ingredients like mango, pineapple, and jicama root accentuate dishes such as the Supa Dupa Groupa (a variation of the classic grouper Oscar, with diced crab, shrimp, and scallops in a Key lime hollandaise). “Marleys accommodates all aspects of dining,” Blake says, “whether you want a high-end dining experience with lobster tails and filet, or fish tacos at the bar at happy hour.” Cheers, mon!

Horseradish-Crusted Salmon with Red Onion Marmalade

4 fresh salmon filets, 8 oz. each
1 cup shredded daikon root
1 cup prepared horseradish
1/2 cup panko bread crumbs
1/2 cup mayonnaise
2 tbs. chopped parsley
salt and pepper to taste

For marmalade:
6 red onions, julienned
1 cup sugar
1 cup red wine vinegar
1 cup light corn syrup
1 tsp. cracked black pepper
1/2 tsp. salt

For crust, combine daikon root, horseradish, and mayonnaise, and mix into paste. Add in panko to help bind together; season with salt, pepper, and parsley, and refrigerate for 15 minutes. Generously rub salmon with crust; heat skillet to medium-high. Sear with crust side down, until crust is firm and golden brown. Flip fish, reduce heat to medium, and continue to cook until done. For marmalade, add all ingredients into a cold pot and bring to a simmer. Once simmering, reduce by two-thirds. Spoon over salmon and serve. Serves 4.

Chart House

Two decades ago, executive chef Eric Seaglund moved to Hilton Head and fell in love with Southern cooking. So you can expect local favorites like Lowcountry Carolina trout at the Hilton Head Chart House, along with signature dishes such as macadamia-crusted mahi, award-winning prime rib, and the original hot chocolate lava cake that the restaurant serves at 30 locations nationwide. “We focus on local produce, local seafood, and shrimp,” Seaglund says. But good food isn’t the only draw. “Our beautiful location overlooks Skull Creek, and you can watch the sun set from anywhere in the restaurant,” he says. “It’s breathtaking every day.”

Perloo Shrimp & Grits

16–20 shrimp
4 oz. applewood-smoked bacon
1/2 cup diced yellow onions
1/2 cup diced celery
1 tsp. chopped garlic
1/2 qt. heavy whipping cream
2 cups chicken stock
2 dashes Tabasco
1 cup fresh okra, sliced ½-inch thick

For the perloo sauce, heat a medium-size saucepot until hot. Add bacon and sauté until crisp. Add onions, garlic, and celery, and sauté on medium heat for 2 minutes. Add cream, chicken stock, Tabasco, and okra; bring to a boil. Reduce heat, and simmer over low heat for 10 minutes. Heat 2 oz. of oil in a separate sauté pan; add shrimp and cook for 1 minute. Add perloo sauce and cook for 20 minutes. Spoon grits into center of bowl; place shrimp on top. Serves 4.

For the grits:
1/2 cup olive oil
1/4 cup garlic, chopped
1/2 cup white onion,
4 ounces applewood-smoked bacon
1 3/4 qt. chicken stock
2 cups stone-ground grits
1 tbs. kosher salt
1 tsp. black pepper

Heat oil in a stock pot. Add bacon and brown, then add onions and cook until soft. Add garlic and cook until golden brown. Add chicken stock and bring to a boil. Slowly add grits and reduce heat. Add salt and pepper and stir occasionally until grits are soft.


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