Can’t Stand the Heat?
Being a coastal chef has always been challenging, but staffing needs and shifting expectations can raise the stress level
There was a time when restaurant chefs were cloistered behind the kitchen’s swinging doors, working their alchemy in secret. Frequent guests knew the name of the manager, owner or even a longtime server. The average chef remained as reclusive as the Wizard of Oz.
No longer. Today, coastal chefs regularly appear on WBOC-TV. Radio station 105.9 FM has a restaurant-focused program, “Sip & Bite,” and chefs often appear on various morning radio shows. They challenge each other to high-profile cook-offs to raise money for charities. Every cooking demonstration, wine dinner and charity event is appetite-whetting fodder for hundreds of Facebook fans.
“Chefs have become modern-day rock stars,” says Doug Ruley, corporate chef for SoDel Concepts, which owns nine beach-area restaurants.
“With the birth of the celebrity TV chef, Food Network, bloggers and foodies, I can see why.” To be sure, many look as though they should be strumming a guitar instead of filleting a fish.
Diners now expect to see colorful tattoos, piercings and hip hairstyles.
But looks can be deceiving. “If only they knew how not so glamorous it is,” Ruley says. “You don’t want to be that rock star that is playing the same old song. You must evolve with the times and must also pay tribute to the past.”
The coastal real estate market remains strong, but the lure of newly constructed homes is creating a challenge for owners selling older ones
The deep dive that coastal housing prices took following the 2008 recession is long gone. Formerly underwater homeowners have seen their housing values bubble back to the surface, finally offering the opportunity to net them at least a small profit should they sell.
But making that sale isn’t as easy as they would like because the steady economic recovery has prompted a resurgence in new construction — triggering a clash between the new and the not-so-new, especially in the highly competitive mid-range portion of the market.
“If you look at mid-level, $400,000 to $600,000, that market is extremely strong,” says Justin Healy, broker/owner of Ocean Atlantic Sotheby’s International Realty. However, “new construction is hurting the resale market. People who are shopping look at the new construction — the buyer incentives, the warranties, the new appliances. As a result, a lot of resales are selling for less.”
In Abstraction, Very Real Success
Nina Mickelsen came late to painting, but is making up for lost time
From the September 2016 Issue
Nina Mickelsen points to an irregular swish of gold leaf on a magenta background with little pink and blue circles. “That’s ‘Sunset in Assateague Bay,’ ” she says. Mickelsen laughs heartily, obviously familiar with the need to explain some of her works. She gestures to “Ocean Breeze” and “Heat Wave,” and there is somewhat of a resemblance between the title words and the images. Sort of. She’s quick to add, “No, you’re right. These are abstracts. A natural artistic evolution.”
On another wall of her studio, bright, playful images depict beach balls, sailboats and seashells, part of her “Beach Fun” collection. Her works on wood, rough linen or canvas, depicting easily recognizable subjects as well as abstractions, all show the influences of her Finnish roots — strong color, clean lines, crisp images, often featuring a lot of white.