Meet the Chef: Caitlyn Fisher

Executive Chef, The Shoals Club, Bald Head Island

Caitlyn Fisher

Chef Caitlyn Fisher had an “aha” moment while still at school during a presentation for her Spanish class. She had to choose a word and bring in objects that correlated with a childhood memory. For some reason, she thought it would be a good idea to make chips and fire roasted salsa for 30 kids. “Even though I had never tried to cook anything before, I created the best salsa I’d ever tasted and just like that I was hooked.”

A graduate of Sandhills Community College in Pinehurst, NC and trained by Executive chef Curt Shelvey. She went on to work for European chef Mark Elliott of Elliott’s on Linden, a ‘farm to table’ restaurant in Pinehurst and it was there, where she learned to shape her style of cooking and master the basics. “Elliott has played a huge role in my career for the 6 years I spent there,” said Fisher. “It taught me that being a chef is more than just cooking, it’s a lifestyle.”

With breathtaking views of the legendary Cape Fear Point, the Shoals Club takes its name from the Frying Pan Shoals that extend some 20 miles from the sandy shores that houses the club. As executive chef at the club, Fisher creates a menu that focuses on local ingredients as much as possible. Getting her inspiration from the atmosphere on the island itself and creating dishes that have a tropical flair, while maintaining a light, yet hearty vibe. “There are so many great staple local ingredients. I love cooking with asparagus, strawberries and soft shell crabs. Once those ingredients start coming around, you just know warm weather is on the horizon. There is also so much more you can do with strawberries than meets the eye. Most people expect desserts when it comes to berries, but I love putting a spin on savory recipes using unlikely ingredients.”

Taking a ferry to and from work every day may not seem ideal to most people, but it is one of the best aspects of the job for the young chef. It offers spectacular views and sunsets, but it also gives her the chance to prepare or decompress from the hectic life of a chef.

“When you’re surrounded by people on “vacation”, it’s easy to forget that you’re at work. On the flip side, literally being separated from the mainland offers many complications and obstacles others may forget about or not realize. Like how we receive food from vendors by barge, weather permitting- and what happens when the weather doesn’t comply. There are so many moving parts and employees that play a role in just getting to work. If one area lacks- we all feel it, which is why teamwork is vital and constantly stressed at the Shoals Club.”

 


Best Comfort Food: N.Y. style pizza

Signature Dish: Shoals Club Crab Cake with chili mango sauce

Favorite Foodie City: New Orleans

Most Loves To: Bake and attend Food Festivals


Chef Caitlyn Fisher’s Thai Coconut Broth Recipe

Steamed Mussels in a Thai Coconut Broth with tomato, peanut, cilantro and crusty bread

Yield: 2 portions

 

2 dozen PEI mussels, beards removed

1 cup dry white wine

2 cups Thai coconut broth (recipe follows)

1 cup heirloom baby tomatoes, cut in half

1 Tbl peanuts, toasted & chopped

2 slices crusty bread, such as ciabatta or baguette

Cilantro for garnish

Good quality olive oil

Thai Coconut Broth

Yield: 2 quarts

6 c fish stock

1 ½ c coconut milk

½ c orange juice, fresh squeezed

¼ c lime juice, fresh squeezed

6 scallions, sliced thin

4 sprigs fresh basil

1 c cilantro, chopped

1 ea yellow onion, minced

2 ea jalapeno, minced without seeds

¼ c garlic, chopped

1 knob ginger root, sliced thin

¼ c honey

¼ c sriracha sauce

1 t turmeric powder

1 t cumin, ground

1 stalk lemongrass, sliced

To taste salt & pepper

Method:

In a medium saucepan sauté onions, garlic and jalapeno in olive oil until soft. Then combine remaining ingredients and simmer for 1 hour. Strain broth and season with salt and pepper.

Preparing the Mussels:

In a large sauté pan over medium-high heat, add a tablespoon of olive oil and live mussels. Give the mussels a gentle toss in the pan until they start to open, then deglaze with white wine. Once the wine has reduced by half, add the warm Thai coconut broth from the above recipe. Cover the pan until the remaining mussels have opened and at the last minute, remove from heat and toss in a few tomatoes and toasted peanuts. Garnish with grilled bread and fresh cilantro leaves.