Fresh – Vibrant – Seafood with Local Ingredients
We sat down with The Tides Resturant Chef Leanne Kelleher to ask her a few questions about her restaurant and to get to know her a little better. The Tides is Undoubtedly one of Vero Beach’s favorite destinations for dinner and has been for years. Above a dish, Leanne created for us – Pan Seared Snapper with butter, Poached Maine Lobster over Potato Puree and Haricots Vert with Roasted Summer Corn Salsa and Lobster Burre Blanc
How long have you been in Vero Beach and what brought you here?
I have lived in Vero Beach since 1982. I was seventeen when my family moved here and I finished high school at St. Edwards upper school.
Where do you source most of your ingredients? Locally?
Yes, I do use as many local suppliers as possible. The Tides is well known for its creative seafood specials and menu items so I use the freshest most readily available ingredients. Buying locally has always been important to me, not only because it provides my customers with a special dining experience, but also, equally important, it supports our local fishermen, growers, suppliers and the local economy in general. As a small business person, I know the effect local support can have on our success as we compete against nationwide chains.
How could someone prepare a meal like this at home?
To prepare this meal at home might seem complicated and maybe intimidating but it is really quite simple. The most important factor in its success is the freshness of the ingredients. The fish can be purchased cleaned and portioned and the lobster is just shallow poached in flavorful broth and butter. The corn is sautéed with peppers and shallots fresh herbs and the sauce is made from the lobster shells themselves, with cream and butter incorporated to finish.
Chef Leanne Kelleher in the Kitchen of The Tides Resturant Vero Beach
My signature creation is?
My signature creation is a difficult question but if pressed to say, I would have to say that The Tides crab cakes, the macadamia crusted yellowtail snapper and the peppercorn crusted filet mignon with caramelized onions and gorgonzola cheese are among the most requested.
5 Things you cannot work without in the kitchen?
A sharp knife, a wooden spoon, hot pans, a dry towel and a comfortable pair of shoes.
The most rewarding part of your job is?
Everything about my job is rewarding. I get to go to work every day at a restaurant that is everything I dreamed it could be and do something that I love to do, and when I go out in the dining room, it is full of people enjoying their lives with their friends and family and the experience that we provide to them just adds to their enjoyment. People are smiling and happy. What else could I ask for?
The other great thing about what I get to do is to employ people. I get a great deal of joy from being able to contribute to the lives of every one of my team members and hopefully get to impact their lives in a way that they feel proud of. This is a very difficult business for those who have families and children at home because the hours that they work are long and often the day doesn’t end until midnight. In addition, because I ask a lot of my team, the commitment and responsibility that they demonstrate day after day don’t come without its own personal sacrifice. Often we spend more time with each other than we do with our own families and for that, I have the utmost respect and gratitude for my people and it is the greatest thing for me to be able to be an employer with the kind of loyal dedicated staff that I have. Talk about rewarding. They are truly great people.
Fresh, Local Ingredients
The Tides is well known for its creative seafood specials
The best thing that’s been said about my food is?
The best thing that has been said about my food is that it is always consistently good. The freshness and quality don’t ever change and that is what makes The Tides what it is. Creative quality every time.
If I weren’t doing what I’m doing today I would be…
I honestly don’t know what else I would do if I wasn’t doing this. I wouldn’t be happy, I know that for sure. I love what I do, it is really the one thing I can see myself doing and I hope I can continue doing it for a long time to come. When I’m finished here, maybe I’ll teach the next ones up.
What is your favorite meal?
My favorite meal is meatloaf, my mother’s for sure. Mashed potatoes gravy, not ketchup, and creamed corn. I’m a New Englander of Irish descent. Meat and potatoes!
Do you cook at home?
I cook at home occasionally, and by that, I mean for occasions. Christmas or Thanksgiving, Easter maybe, but usually I prefer not to. But I do help chop and dice, or maybe stir.
How is being a restaurant owner different from working for someone else?
Restaurant owners don’t get to call in sick or take personal days. Twenty four hours seven days a week, whether you’re in the building or not, the only thing there is to do is think about your restaurant and the people who count on you. No time clock, no one to tell you what to do either but there are times when I would love someone to tell me what to do. I DO IT WELL, THEN PUNCH OUT AND GO HOME.
The most unforgettable meal you’ve ever had?
A dining experience unsurpassed, dinner at Villa D’Este, Lake Como Italy. It was the most spectacular late afternoon, eight-course delicious tasting menu from soup to salad, then pasta, fish cheese, meat, dessert and wine pairings for each course. Perfect, impeccable service and quite possibly the most beautiful setting in the world.
What is your background?
I began my restaurant career in Vero working summer jobs while in college, but my real leap into this industry came with my acceptance to The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York. While my mother and father always inspired me to be successful and educated, my inspiration and love of cooking and the excitement of the restaurant industry certainly came from my uncle, Butch Rado. My cousins and I spent many Sundays in the kitchen with him and the rest of our family cooking and enjoying the time we spent together. He was always teaching me and took a special interest in me and in my career and success. I feel him in my life whenever I experience a particular achievement and I hear the words of wisdom he often spoke. After the CIA I received a bachelor’s degree in hotel and restaurant management from Florida International University in Miami while working at some of the most notable restaurants in Coral Gables. I returned to Vero Beach in the early nineties and began building my career and was fortunate enough to meet Yannick Martin, the remarkably talented and incredibly kind chef-owner of Café Du Soir. He taught me invaluable lessons and instilled a sense of professionalism that few possess. After working with Yannick I began working with Chef Bruce Turner, where my education continued. He also has taught me countless things and where I once worked for him as his sous chef, he now works with me at The Tides. We are peers, friends, colleagues and a team. Bruce continues to be a very integral player in the success of The Tides.
Photos by Aric Attas
Originally Published on Vero Home Life & Design