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 #9When 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.”

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.