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Articles by Lisa Knoll

Wild Orchid chef takes over Sam’s kitchen

It’s a new year. With the flip of a calendar comes a chance to renew, refresh and remodel.
    In Annapolis, the new year offers opportunity for two local restaurateurs to help each other.
    Andrew Parks, owner of Sam’s on the Waterfront, has announced his new executive chef, Jim Wilder. Chef Wilder recently closed his Westgate Circle restaurant Wild Orchid after a difficult three-year tenure.
    Timing is everything, so hopes Parks, who has struggled to consistently employ an executive chef in the eight years he has owned the waterfront restaurant built in 1986 by his grandfather, the original Sam.
    Each man endeavors to bring the best of his farm-to-table vision in this new marriage of culinary talents. Each restaurant has — or has had — the green restaurant certification.
    At Sam’s, Parks takes the front-of-house role with Wilder running the kitchen.
    In the past, Wilder has worked both ends of the operation, with 13 years at the helm of his highly regarded Eastport Wild Orchid his pinnacle, to the head-scratching move to the behemoth at the Severn Bank Building — a move that would be his undoing.
    Few understood Wilder’s decision to sell the warm and comfortable 40-seat Eastport café in 2010 and move to the 250-seat former Greystone Grill on the other side of town.
    That decision “was not based on sound business models. I had to keep my mind occupied,” Wilder said, after the untimely death of his and wife Karen’s son, Andrew Wall, from brain cancer in 2009. “It was the bottom. And I deal with depression by keeping busy. Depression drove me.”
    Building a dream kitchen provided a needed distraction from grief. It also afforded access and opportunity to expand Wilder’s Company’s Coming catering business, along with a large floor plan that offered him ideal accessibility for his wheelchair.
    The dream was not meant to be. The restaurant closed in July 2013.
    Parks has his own challenges keeping Sam’s profitable and relevant. Hidden within the gated Chesapeake Harbour Marina community, the restaurant is difficult to find. Warm weather brings boaters out and swells the population of Chesapeake Harbour, where many residents are summer only. Still, Parks estimates that 80 percent of his business comes from outside the community. Getting diners in the door is an ongoing pursuit. Parks hopes hiring a well-known chef will do the trick.
    Chef Wilder brings his most popular dishes to the menu. Butternut squash soup with crab, scallops Napoleon and pork tenderloin wrapped in bacon join Sam’s favorites: lobster mac ’n’ cheese, rockfish and Kobe burgers (half-price on Tuesday).
    The transition has been subtle thus far, though Parks is enthusiastic about a new winter menu and many collaborative surprises to come.

Got a tasty tip for a future’s Dish? Email Lisa Knoll at thedish@bayweekly.com.

Whole Foods’ confectioners compete to become Top Cake

Cutthroat Kitchen, Cupcake Wars and Top Chef: We’ve grown to love televised cooking competitions.
    Whole Foods Market’s Top Cake competition skipped television for an on-location reality show. To crown the Mid-Atlantic Region’s best cake decorator, Whole Foods invited real people to its Annapolis store to taste and admire. If you showed up early enough, you could even get a ticket to choose a cake to take home.
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Meet Secret Life of Bees author Sue Monk Kidd … at Sam’s Club

Sue Monk Kidd, author of the bestselling novel The Secret Life of Bees, is coming to Annapolis.
    She’s selling and signing her newest book, The Invention of Wings, not at familiar book haunts but at Sam’s Club, a newcomer in author appearances.
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Bakers Thomas and Pam Storm of Great Harvest Bread Company

What inspires you?
    We love all kinds of baked goods but particularly enjoy trying traditional breads from around the world.

What’s your culinary background?
    Thomas owned an ice-cream store in downtown Annapolis for 25 years before switching to bread.

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Chef Zachary Pope of Roundz ­Gourmet Market and Catering
 

What inspires you?
  I was inspired by working with great chefs in Washington, D.C.’s, fine-dining restaurants. They taught me to seek out unique ingredients and be fearless when it comes to creating. I’m also inspired by the wonderful fresh, local ingredients we have in this area.

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Crabs, Watermelon and Great German Fare

It’s time to get cracking. This Friday, August 2, the Annapolis Rotary Club and its 150-plus members roll out the brown paper for its 68th annual World’s Largest Crab Feast at Navy-Marine Corps Memorial Stadium (5-8pm).
    The feast is a highlight of summer, with all-you-can-eat steamed crabs, corn on the cob, crab soup, hot dogs, BBQ, soft drinks and beer.
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Lose weight eating the Paleo Diet

It’s bathing suit season, and there’s no better time to fret about our waistlines than when they are hanging over our bikini bottoms. With obesity a recurring topic and increasingly dramatic health issue, the pursuit of the perfect diet continues. The Paleolithic or Paleo Diet has been buzzing around since the 1970s (while the real cavemen were munching the tundra over two million years ago) but has gained recent popularity....

Father’s Day celebrations often revolve around cooking out.
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Camp Letts’ Wingstock Festival and Gordon Biersch’s Summerbrau

It’s not summer yet, but things are heating up. This Saturday, June 8, Camp Letts in Edgewater hosts the second annual Chesapeake Wingstock Festival. This tasty fundraiser supports Camp Letts’ Caring for Community Campaign, which provides kids in need with full and partial scholarships to attend camp. Seven local restaurants fire up their best wings for both judges’ and people’s choice awards....

Celebrate with a Maryland original, the Black Eyed Susan

The 138th Preakness race runs this Saturday, May 18, at Pimlico Racetrack in Baltimore. Maybe you have tickets and are watching the race from the infield where you can enjoy the party crowd and headliner Pitbull. The Kegasus is no longer invited to this party. Maybe you’ll be watching the race from the comfort of your living room or attending a party with friends.
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