Baltimore native Denise Vansant is serious about crab cakes

By Pam George  |  Photograph by Scott Nathan
From the August 2017 issue

recipeWhen Denise Vansant and her husband, Joe, moved to the beach full time in 2000, she was disappointed that she couldn’t find a crab cake that lived up to her standards. Not only did Vansant grow up in Baltimore — where crab cakes are a signature dish — but she was also raised in fine-dining restaurants.

Her father owned two: The Tail of the Fox in Timonium and The Golden Bull in Ocean City, Md. She often accompanied him on visits to the fishmonger to find the freshest products. In the 1930s, her grandparents owned one of the first diners in Cape May, N.J. Her uncle, born in France, was a chef.

Vansant has put her Baltimore background and her culinary know-how to good use at the Crab Cake Cook-Off, a highlight of the University of Delaware’s Coast Day festivities. She’s won two second-place awards, and will go for the gold again on Oct. 1 when the event returns to UD’s Hugh R. Sharp Campus in Lewes. She could also enter the Seafood Chowder Challenge, which targets professional chefs and cooks. A former history teacher, Vansant now owns Cave Girl at the Beach, which prepares seasonal, local and organic foods-to-go, which are available at the Rehoboth Beach Farmers’ Market.

Chimichurri sauce enlivens a grilling favorite

Intro by Pam George | Photographs by Scott Nathan
From the May 2017 issue

may-recipe Coastal Cuisine - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #18Seafood is a natural menu choice at the beach. But in Jonathan Spivak’s experience, coastal diners are just as interested in the unusual as the expected. He should know. The restaurant veteran is the former owner of Sedona in Bethany Beach, Fusion in Rehoboth Beach and Salt Air, which is located in Fusion’s Wilmington Avenue space.

Even as early as 1993, the year Sedona opened, he served wild game. And many coastal diners appreciate a juicy steak, even if they’re steps from the ocean.

Spivak, who lives near Bethany Beach in the Salt Pond community, is now the owner of Home on Your Range, which provides customized dinner parties, typically for six to 12 people. One of his favorite dishes to prepare is grilled New York steak with chimichurri sauce, which he often serves family style. The fresh green herbs are a vivid addition, and you can buy them from local vendors at farmers markets. The uncooked sauce’s lemon, vinegar and garlic create a bright note that’s perfect for spring. Serve it with red potatoes and carrots for an additional pop of color.

It’s not surprising that Spivak would create a pretty plate. He’s also an abstract artist, a passion that he pursued after being successfully treated for stage 3 lymphoma. (He sold Salt Air in 2011 due to his illness.)

Now that it’s time for everyone to dust off their grills, add this dish to your Memorial Day menu. Much of the prep is done before guests arrive.

The chimichurri sauce is also good with lamb, pork, chicken and, for die-hard pescatarians, a meaty fish, such as halibut.

Clams, Corn and Cashews

Intro by Pam George  |  Photograph by This email address is being protected from spambots. You need JavaScript enabled to view it.
From the July 2016 issue

Julyrecipe Coastal Cuisine - Delaware Beach Life - Results from #18City life didn’t agree with Jordan Miller. “I grew up on the beach,” says Miller, who was 2 years old when his family moved from Clifton, Texas, to Long Beach Island, N.J. “I left to work as a chef in multiple cities, but the beach was in my veins — I can’t kick it.”

When he spotted an online ad for an executive chef at Heirloom, then a soon-to-open restaurant in Lewes, he didn’t hesitate to contact owner Meghan Lee. Turns out they had much in common. Lee was the opening manager of Talula’s Garden in Philadelphia, which debuted in 2011. At that time, Miller was a chef at Milk & Honey Market in Philadelphia’s University City neighborhood. Both Lee and Miller share a passion for menus that change with the seasons and feature as many local ingredients as possible. They hit it off, and Heirloom opened late last year. Even on a winter weekend, it was challenging to get a table.