One year after his death, Leo Medisch remains a strong presence along the culinary coast

Intro by Pam George | Photograph by Scott Nathan
From the August 2014 issue

CC-Aug2014-byScottNathanOn Aug. 21, 2013, coastal Delaware’s restaurant community was saddened to learn that Leo Medisch, executive chef of the Back Porch Cafe in Rehoboth Beach, had died at age 60. Medisch had joined the Back Porch as a grill chef shortly after the restaurant’s opening in 1974, and over the years — as he became kitchen manager, chef and an owner — he symbolized Rehoboth’s celebrated dining scene.

But to many colleagues, friends and customers, Medisch’s talent went beyond the kitchen. Current Executive Chef Timothy McNitt, who joined the restaurant in 1997, says Medisch was “kind, gentle, funny, caring and thoughtful.” Above all, he was a friend.

McNitt, who moved to Rehoboth from Lancaster County, Pa., was hired to work in the Back Porch’s pantry to do prep work and make such items as bluefish-and-apple sausage and duck galantine. “They had a lot of trust in this country boy,” he says. “I loved every minute of it.”

Brined tomatoes, cucumbers or asparagus pair well with seared fish, or make a tangy addition to salads

Intro by Pam George  Photograph by Scott Nathan
From the July 2014 issue

PickledPlethora-byScottNathanPickling and preserving were once the purview of farmers and avid vegetable gardeners. No longer. Pickling is a hot food trend for 2014, according to two surveys: Allrecipes.com’s “The Measuring Cup Trend Report” and the National Restaurant Association’s “What’s Hot in 2014.”

Krista Scudlark, owner of Milton-based Backyard Jams and Jellies, has witnessed the popularity firsthand. “I can’t keep my bread-and-butter pickles in stock,” says Scudlark, who uses her father’s recipe. Some customers order by the case.

As of May, Milton-based Dogfish Head had gone through 97 5-gallon buckets of its branded pickles, sold at the company’s Rehoboth brewpub and from its food truck. (Each bucket holds 213 servings.) “And we haven’t even hit peak season,” says Mariah Calagione, vice president of the microbrewery. That tally does not include the packaged Dogfish Head pickles sold in Whole Foods and other stores.

 At the Matt Haley Companies, which has eight coastal restaurants, pickling is as routine as making soups. “We pickle anything when it’s in season,” says corporate chef Doug Ruley. “We’ve pickled ramps, green beans and asparagus, which we use in bloody marys in summertime. We also pickle a medley of carrots, cauliflower, zucchini, squash and onion.”

Tender asparagus spears signal the arrival of spring

Intro By Pam George
From the April 2014 issue

asparagusWhile strawberries are still ripening on the vine and green onions have their bulbs buried in the ground, one leggy vegetable is ripe for the picking.

Asparagus is the true sign that farm stands are open for business. In fact, the Fifer Orchards’ Dewey Beach location opens only when the asparagus is ready, anytime from March to mid-April.

Those in the know agree that area asparagus packs a tastier punch than supermarket spears purchased in winter or summer.

“It’s similar to tomatoes in that respect,” says Mike Fennemore, whose family owns Fifer Or-chards, which is based in Camden-Wyoming. “There’s a huge difference in the flavor profile. The asparagus you see in winter is from South America and has to travel a long way, then [is] kept in storage.”

Growing the popular veggie takes patience. Fifer farmers dig deep trenches to plant the “crowns,” the root system of a year-old asparagus plant, which is grown from seed.