Cooking with Chef Ian Fairweather | Gamble Creek a chef's playground

June 18, 2014 

Fresh strawberries for shortcake, grilled eggplant Parmesan, Russian kale, green beans, fennel, fresh herbs, spring mixes for salads. These were some of the thoughts that rushed through my mind when Sandbar owner, Ed Chiles, told me he was buying Gamble Creek Farm, and it didn't stop there.

This past season we saw production of peppery arugula, leafy Bloomsdale spinach, colorful Swiss chard, and red and golden beets. As a result of Ed's purchase of Gamble Creek and 3 Boys Farms, our crew at the Sandbar now has first pick of the freshest produce in town -- right from our own farms. It was a great experience for me as a chef to be out at Gamble talking to Eric Geraldson, longtime local farmer, about what and when certain items would be ready to harvest. This gave me inside knowledge of what was being planted and what would soon be available to harvest.

This opportunity allowed me to be creative and think about how I would use these items to prepare delicious features for our guests. This is what people want chefs to be doing -- going out to local farms, meeting the farmers and finding out what is available, for us to really know what we are serving to them.

People want to know where their food is

coming from and they want it to come from local sources. We get that, and we go to great lengths to make that happen. Being here on the Gulf of Mexico, we are able to get freshly caught seafood such as snapper, grouper, shrimp and stone crabs. Now we are tying in great, fresh, local produce. That is a win-win for us and our guests.

It was our first season owning the farm. We had some growing pains, but we are learning from these and gearing up for the farm's fall production. It is a really exciting time because Gamble is really in its infancy. The farm has so much potential to grow and expand not only for the Sandbar, Beachhouse and Mar Vista, but for other restaurants, food banks, food service organizations, schools and non-profits in our community. We are excited about the future and what we will be bringing to our guests that is local and fresh.

PEACH AND PECAN SALAD

1 peach, cut in half take seed out and grill

3 ounces arugula

One half of a buratta cheese

1 ounce toasted pecans

2 ounces blackberry coulis (see recipe below)

1/2 ounce olive oil

In a bowl toss arugula with olive oil, on a salad plate laddle coulis on plate and spread it around forming a circle. Place arugula in the center of plate, add the buratta to the middle and place the grilled peaches around arugula. Sprinkle pecans around the salad and enjoy. Serves one.

-- Chef Ian Fairweather

Blackberry coulis

1 pint blackberries

3-4 tablespoons sugar

Place berries in a pan on low heat and add sugar. When mixture begins to boil, place in blender and blend until liquid. Strain mixture through a sieve to remove pulp.

-- Kansas City Star

Chef Ian Fairweather, Chef and the Sandbar Restaurant on Anna Maria Island, can be reached at 941-778-0444.

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