On this episode of “Hot off the Press” Chef Pete and fellow celebrity chef “Mess Lords” Celina Tio and Sikey Vlahos broadcast from Whidbey Island, Washington, where they brought some Southwest to the Northwest serving up pork chili, fish tacos and cocoa bread budding to sailors stationed at Naval Base Kitsap-Bangor.
The event, sponsored by Navy Entertainment, was part of this year’s Mess Lords tour where a group of celebrity chefs team up to help boost the morale of those in the United States Armed Services. As a founding member of the organization, Chef Pete and crew offer cooking demos, culinary shows, entertainment, and of course good eats to the men and women who selflessly serve our country.
Chef Pete was joined by James Beard Award-winning chef Celina Tio, owner of The Belfry in Kansas City, Missouri, and formerly Julian, her first proprietary restaurant which is set to close this summer. Tio said she plans to turn her focus to The Belfry, which she recently reopened, and expand its role to include more private and special events.
After earning a degree in hotel and restaurant management from Drexel University, Tio started cooking at Philadelphia's Ritz-Carlton hotel. By age 23 she had become the chef of the hotel's Grill Room. Her culinary career also includes time at Walt Disney World and seven years heading the kitchen at Kansas City’s renowned American Restaurant. Tio has competed on Bravo TV’s Top Chef Masters, as well as Food Network’s The Next Iron Chef and Iron Chef America.
Sikey Vlahos and his family emigrated from Greece in 1971 when he was just 7 years old. After graduating high school in 1984, Sikey and his mother opened Voula’s Offshore Café in Seattle, and the restaurant is still thriving after more than three decades under the family’s ownership. Featured on Guy Fieri’s Diners Drive-Ins and Dives and known as one of the best breakfast eateries in Seattle, Voula’s serves up American diner classics with a Greek twist.
On this episode of “Hot Off the Press” Chef Pete catches up with longtime friend Lucy Buffett at the world-famous LuLu’s at Homeport Marina in Gulf Shores, Alabama, while on a little break from her summer-long tour for the release of her second cookbook Gumbo Love: Recipes for Gulf Coast Cooking, Entertaining, and Savoring the Good Life. In this delicious love letter to the Gulf Coast's vibrant food culture, the restaurateur and beloved younger “crazy sista” of music legend Jimmy Buffett, has put together a collection of over 100 recipes showcasing the Caribbean, Cajun, Cuban, Mexican, Old Florida, and Creole influences of Gulf Coast cuisine. Incorporating stories from Lucy's childhood growing up in Mobile, Alabama, adventures traveling the seas as a cook, time spent working as a chef in New Orleans, and her philosophy of relaxation, gratitude, and seizing the day, Gumbo Love entertains and inspires as it serves up recipe after recipe, each tastier than the last.
And of course, the coastal-inspired cookbook wouldn’t be complete without a few of those refreshing frozen concoctions that help us hang on! The Bama Breeze, inspired by Jimmy Buffett’s song of the same name, is a favorite of locals and tourists alike:
THE BAMA BREEZE
1 Lime, cut into wedges
1/2 ounce simple syrup (recipe included below)
3/4 ounce ruby red grapefruit-flavored vodka
3/4 ounce coconut rum
cranberry juice, enough to fill the cocktail shaker
How to Make It
Put 2 lime wedges in the bottom of a metal cocktail shaker. Add the simple syrup, vodka, and rum.
Muddle gently, avoiding the lime rinds, which can add a bitter taste.
Fill the shaker with ice and cranberry juice. Pour the mixture back and forth between the shaker and a large mixing glass a few times.
Pour the drink into a glass, add a straw, garnish with a lime wedge, and enjoy the Breeze!
To make the Simple Syrup:
Combine 1/2 cup sugar and 1/2 cup water in a small saucepan. Bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and let cool to room temperature. Once cool, pour the syrup into a storage container. It will keep, refrigerated, for a long time.