Erik Walker, the culinary director for the Chiles Restaurant Group, introduced guests to a refreshing signature dish from The Sandbar at the Grand Tasting in January: Locally-sourced Mackerel Crudo with House-made Pickled Vegetable Escabeche. Insider Perspective: At an event like the Grand Tasting, with its bevy of hearty samples that leave guests quickly stuffed, The Sandbar’s light mackerel mixed with pickled veggies was a welcome respite for the palate
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Q: What are a couple of tips for prepping for the Grand Tasting?
A: Go big or go home. You never want to run out. Bring your A game.
Q: Do you have a wine pairing suggestion for the dish you served at the 2017 event?
A: Of course, a dry Riesling such as the Lola Riesling has enough acidity to enhance the flavors brought forth by the escabeche. Further, the flavor profile of the mackerel (minerals) is complemented by the Riesling, which is traditionally an old-world, mineral-forward wine.
Q: What have you learned from past Grand Tastings?
A: You need to push the envelope to get noticed. Some restaurants bring the same dish every year, and that is fine if that is what works for them. But we always try to outdo ourselves and be better than the last year.
Q: What were some of the best compliments you received about the dish you served?
A: We heard that it was the most creative and the most unique. We also heard that it was delicious but also edgy and forward-thinking. And that is representative of what we are doing with our menus at the restaurants.
Q: What is your favorite thing about the Grand Tasting?
A: Interacting with the locals and treating them to something new and exciting.
The Sandbar Restaurant | 100 Spring Ave., Anna Maria | 941-778-0444 | sandbar.groupersandwich.com.