Mediterranean lamb dish showcases seasonal flavors and a mix of local and exotic ingredients

Intro by Pam George  |  Photographs by Scott Nathan
From the May 2018 issue

May-2018-RecipeBy May, chefs and foodies are celebrating the return of local vegetables, particularly asparagus, peas and tender lettuces. When it comes to meat, lamb is historically linked with the season. In Greece, for instance, lamb is the main attraction of the Easter feast. It’s also the star of the country’s cuisine.

The spring bounty delights Gary Papp, who with wife Lorraine owns Palate Bistro & Catering. “I embrace what my local growers are bringing to me,” he says.

Lately, he’s been experimenting with Middle Eastern spices and vegetarian dishes. Lamb meatballs with lemon-sumac yogurt — a Greek-inspired dish using fresh products — is a prime example.

At work or home, it helps to have two chefs in the kitchen. Lorraine is a celebrated pastry chef. The couple met when she hired Gary to be the sous chef at a restaurant in Bucks County, Pa. A friendship turned into a romance, and they catered their own wedding in 1990.

In 1994, friend John Donato and his partner, Twain Gonzales, were getting ready to open The Buttery and hired the Papps. The couple moved to the beach and both worked at the restaurant. In 2008, they left to open Essential Chef, which offered catering and consulting services. Gary also taught culinary classes. In 2016, they opened Palate in a Route 1 shopping center between Lewes and Rehoboth.

This recipe demonstrates that the Papps don’t skip steps. Home chefs can make all the components or just a few. You’ll find sumac, a spice common in Middle Eastern cuisine, at Jerusalem International Grocery in the Tenley Court shopping center on Route 1 near Midway. Pea shoots are often available in Asian markets, or you can substitute baby spinach.

This chef gives an elegant twist to a favorite that’s never out of season

By Pam George
From the April 2018 issue

RecipeApr-2018When Tom Deptula creates a new restaurant menu, at least one protein consistently makes it onto the page — and his choice might surprise you.

“You don’t always have to have a chicken on the menu, but you do have to have a salmon dish,” says Deptula, who has been the executive chef at The Clubhouse at Baywood in Millsboro for two years.

Partly that’s because salmon is so popular. The fish is loaded with healthy fats, it’s readily available and it has a velvety texture without a strong fishy flavor. For chefs, it’s also versatile: You can roast it, grill it, bake it, sear it and smoke it. It’s light enough for spring, particularly when paired with cheerful colors.

Deptula has featured pan-seared salmon with spaetzle at the restaurant, which overlooks the Baywood Greens Golf Course. It’s an elegant dish that reflects his time working at Victoria’s Restaurant and with Lion Gardner at the Blue Moon, both in Rehoboth Beach. Deptula is also an avid fisherman and hunter.

Putting a local spin on butternut squash soup

By Pam George  |  Photographs by Scott Nathan

OctRecipe Coastal Cuisine - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #15When Max Sopinskyy was growing up in Ukraine, meals were made at home from locally sourced ingredients. “We didn’t go to restaurants for lunches or dinners,” says the native of a small village near the Black Sea. “My mom and grandmom would cook three meals a day for me and my younger brother — every day.”

The family ate seasonal fruit and vegetables from their garden. For a time, they also raised chickens. “I knew how to grow vegetables and how to debone fish or chicken, because everybody around me knew how to do it,” he notes. “I never dreamed about cooking as a career. It was just an everyday activity.”

That changed in 2005 when he came to the United States and got a job as a dishwasher at Fins Fish House & Raw Bar in Rehoboth. Sopinskyy worked his way up the culinary ladder, from line cook to chef. “I was a quick learner in the kitchen,” he says. “I saw what other cooks or chefs were doing.” He also discovered how much he enjoyed working with people from different backgrounds. “I like being a team player.”