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.

Students give up spring break to help save the Bay

     Think back a few years. What did you do with your time and talents during spring break from college days? Be careful now. Maybe you shouldn’t answer in front of the children. Fortunately for those of us who love the Chesapeake Bay, a new generation knows how to break from the past and spring into action.

Marjory Stoneman Douglas’s ­Chesapeake connection

       The students at Marjory Stoneman Douglas high school in Parkland, Florida, have a patron saint to inspire them as they reconstruct their terror and grief into a national cause, rallying students around the country to end gun violence. Their school’s namesake was a champion for social justice activism for most of her long life.
Teens Crochet for the Bay to aid Patuxent Riverkeeper and American Chestnut Land Trust
      Think today’s teens always have their hands busy texting or playing video games? Not Angela Arnold and her pals at Huntingtown High School in Calvert County.
      Arnold, a senior, is vice president of a club of teens who keep their hands busy with crochet hooks and yarn. Crochet for the Bay, now an official nonprofit student group, crafts handmade products to raise money for Bay conservation.

Here’s a sneak peek

      Has your Chesapeake Bay license plate stopped sparking joy? Have its heron, crab and grasses against a field of blue lost their power to remind you, and your fellow motorists, to Treasure the Chesapeake? Is it just too familiar?

Chesapeake Church provides 1.7 million pounds of food annually

       Drive past most any place of worship in the middle of the day in the middle of the week and you might see a few more cars than at a Chick-Fil-A on a Sunday.
       But make a pilgrimage to the Chesapeake Church any day, most any time of the week, and you would think you’ve parked in front of a new coffee boutique at a ski lodge or …

An immigrant expresses her ­gratitude through the Peace Corps

      I am serving my country abroad, and my country is America. I can’t quite believe it. The words conjure pictures of soldiers, brave and resolute in uniform, or ambassadors, smooth and sophisticated. I am neither, and I am a novice American. I was born in Ireland, a British citizen from Belfast. I moved to the U.S. in the early 2000s.

Marine Aquarium Society hosts conference

      You may not find Nemo or Dory, but a local club hopes you still find inspiration in the wonders of a saltwater tank.
      The Southern Maryland Marine Aquarium Society is a dedicated cadre of marine hobbyists seeking to spread their love of saltwater tanks and to raise awareness of the delicate coral reefs they tend therein.

Maryland First Lady Yumi Hogan and 5th-grade artists will

       Yumi Hogan, artist and Maryland’s First Lady, looked carefully at each poster created by our state’s 10 fifth-grade finalists in honor of trees....

How young artists view our great estuary

       Each of us Bay-lovers sees the Chesapeake in a different way. Especially important is how young Marylanders see our great estuary, for its survival will soon be in their hands. 
       March has been celebrated in Maryland for 57 years as Youth Art Month.