view counter

Features (News)

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.

Jan Miles was bred to captain Maryland’s ­historic clipper ship

The man who grew up to be the captain of Pride of Baltimore II, one of the great tall ships of our age, started his sailing career in Annapolis in the late 1960s.
    Jan Miles grew up in a family that sailed for fun, mostly overseas where his father was stationed as a foreign service officer. When the family retired to Annapolis, the teenage Jan had trouble adjusting to life in the states.
...

Once over lightly

Minimum-wage earners, marijuana users and safe drivers came up winners in the Maryland General Assembly, which wrapped up its session this week. And environmentalists are scoring a win — among many defeats — in fending off 20 bills to take back earlier action to control stormwater runoff.
    But seafood lovers lost their legislative fights.
...

Tuition just got cheaper at St. Mary’s College in Maryland

College is more likely to impoverish the family than get the kid a job. At least that’s what parents of this year’s high school graduates say.
...

Three years in, I’m planning ahead for optimal success

I didn’t move to Annapolis three years ago because our capital city hosts a barbeque festival. The Naptown barBAYq was one of those pleasant discoveries I made after arrival.
...

We have food pantries all over the state. Why not furniture pantries?

Bruce Michalec’s bank needs a new vault. Deposits are bigger than ever in the three months since Anne Arundel County Food & Resources Bank merged with the Maryland Food Bank. Soon, all the food will crowd out the resources.
    Michalec founded a food bank for Anne Arundel County in 1985. Soon, need and opportunity combined to bring other resources like furniture and medical supplies into the bank.
...

Middle schoolers’ contest takes on cyber-bullying

Some kids are bullies, some kids are bullied; but at some point, all kids see other kids being hurt. What would you do if you learned that a friend has received cruel and intimidating messages?
...

The answer’s just a phone call away

Way back when, starting in the 1930s, Americans got quick weather reports by dialing a phone number, usually ending in 1212. In the Information Age, those numbers have been giving way, replaced decade by decade by radio, television, Internet, PDAs and smart phones. The Baltimore-Annapolis area was one of the last places in the country to retain the service, with Verizon finally pulling the plug in June of 2011.
...

A garden named for this Maryland first lady is a fine place to encounter spring

Spring is here, calling us outdoors.     
    Sample the season at Helen Avalynne Gibson Tawes Garden, an out-of-the-way treasure hidden in plain sight at Maryland Department of Natural Resources headquarters in the Tawes Building.
    The gardens are known to local birders as a hotspot for migrating warblers in April, when waves of Virginia bluebells bloom along the walkways.
...

Win prizes with your photos of fish and water

Your friends and family tell you the photos you post on Facebook are great. Are your snapshots really as good as they say? Now you can find out. Two local organizations — Chesapeake Bay Foundation and Maryland Department of Natural Resources — are sponsoring photo contests seeking Bay-oriented entries.
...