Passenger Pick of the Month
Located in the popular waterfront dining district of Morgan's Harbor, Osetra Bay is a great spot for diners to experience the true essence of the Caribbean. Early in 2014 the restaurant, with its two lounges, will celebrate their four year anniversary. As this month's Passenger Pick of the Month, we wanted to learn more about the story behind Osetra Bay, so recently we caught up with manager and partner James Sedgley.
PP: James, lots of exciting changes at Osetra Bay. Tell us about them.
JS: Certainly the most exciting change is the welcome arrival of our new Head Chef, Tobias 'Tobi' Larcher. Tobi has worked in award winning European kitchens for 15 years and was most recently the lead chef for VIP's attending the 2012 London Olympics. And I'm excited to introduce him to our Passenger Pick family.
PP: This is an exciting change. Congratulations, Tobi! Tell us what inspired you to start cooking?
TL: I always wanted to work in the front of the house and be a waiter. So when I was 14 I went to hotel school in Austria and did a 3 month practicum one summer at a hotel. There I found my passion. We were working with knifes, taking apart whole animals. This is where I fell in love with cooking. I was able to create something, and I was given control when I was so young. I quit hotel school, and went to cooking school when I was 15, and I have never looked back.
PP: Of all the kitchens you've worked in, which inspired you the most?
TL: I worked in Germany at Meerbar and Bug, different restaurants in the same company. Everything was fresh there, the only foods frozen was the ice cream! The fish there was amazing, it was every second day brought in. Chef Wang there taught me a lot, but mostly how to respect the ingredients. We changed the menu every day, and it made you always think about the food, and how to best use the ingredients.
PP: Which style of cuisine do you enjoy the most?
TL: I grew up in the Austrian Alps near the border of Italy. So growing up I had a lot of the Mediterranean influence in my food. I really enjoy the focus of fresh local ingredients that the Mediterranean cuisine has. It can be fast to prepare but you must use the best quality of products, I love that.
PP: As the new head chef at Osetra Bay, what menu changes can guests look forward to?
TL: Local, local, local. I really am looking to use as many local ingredients as I can. I want to do a lot of specials that highlight what Cayman has to offer. I want to include a lot more Caribbean fish and seafood into our menu too. I want the food to be elegant, but accessible to our guests.
JS: Tobi and I have made substantial, very positive changes to the menu. We've increased the portion sizes, lowered the prices, added a children's menu and opened for Sunday Lunch.
PP: Tell us more about this Sunday Lunch, sounds intriguing.
JS: We're well known for our high-end, fine dining. On Sundays we take off the white table clothes, exposing our beautiful teak tables, put up the canopies for shade and enjoy a fabulous traditional-style English roast.
PP: James, when you said "English roast", you broke into the biggest grin. This must be a passion of yours.
JS: Being from the U.K. myself, I grew up eating a traditional roast nearly every Sunday, so a well-done roast is a welcome taste of home. Comfort food at its best.
PP: From a food standpoint, what exactly are we talking about?
JS: We're talking about perfectly roasted potatoes cooked in traditional goose fat, golden and crunchy on the outside, light and fluffy in the inside; fresh garden vegetables; glorious Yorkshire pudding stacked high on the plate; perfectly cooked juicy prime beef; and pouring of rich, silky-smooth gravy. Tobi and I put this together utilizing tried and tested traditional roast recipes from home.
PP: Sounds fantastic! What led you to introduce this?
JS: We introduced Sunday lunch for several reasons. First, we had so many guests ask for a Sunday roast because they all knew I was English, and knew how to do it on a scale, but couldn't find it the way they liked it on the island. That being said the most important thing about the British Sunday lunch is the company and location where you enjoy it.
PP: So is roast the only thing on the Sunday Lunch menu?
JS: Oh, not at all. We also have Schnitzel, a rib-eye, blackened Mahi, seared Snapper, Seafood Linguini, but most of our Sunday lunch guests tend to go for the roast.
PP: This is quite different from the many Sunday brunches on island.
JS: There are a lot of Sunday brunches here, I have been to them all, and they are just fantastic. This is intentionally different. It's nice to sit down and be served and do something more traditional on a Sunday instead of waiting in lines.
PP: James, passengers love your signature drinks and desserts. What is your favorite creation?
JS: Of course it would have to be the pistachio soufflé with ice cream. Like everything at Osetra, every single thing is made from scratch. Nothing out of a jar and nothing from a bottle, nothing from a packet. We make our own bread and even churn our own butter. Yes we do! The soufflé is no exception. It's the perfect end to a perfect evening.
PP: Tobi, James mentioned you cooked for the Olympics, what was that like?
TL: I worked for the Vancouver 2010 Olympics in Whistler at the sliding center, cooking for the volunteers, and the Olympic Family. During the London 2012 Olympics I worked in the Athletes Village cooking for the Athletes. At the Olympics there are people who travel from all over the world just to work there; it has a very "united" atmosphere. I learned a lot about high volume cooking, strict standards control, and a lot about management.
PP: What's your one must-have, can't live without ingredient?
TL: To eat, would absolutely be Sriracha I but it at home on most of my food. To cook with, would be thyme, I love all herbs but I think thyme is my favorite.
PP: If you had to pick a last meal, what would it be?
TL: Talefspitz-Austrian boiled beef with horseradish and creamy spinach. My mom makes the best.
PP: What would be your food heaven, and food hell?
TL: My food hell would be when everyone would just use fake food ingredients. Use only fillers, salt, and msg to flavor their food. It's not natural, and I don't want to eat that. My food heaven would be to get fresh local produce from any season, at any time of the year. I want to get summer foods in the middle of winter, or vice versa I think that could be fun.
PP: What's your top tip for the home cook?
TL: Keep it simple.
PP: If you had to really impress someone, what would you cook them and why?
TL: Instead of going fancy, I think I would cook schnitzel. I have been cooking this for as long as I can remember, and its comfort food. Everyone loves comfort food every now and then. It is delicious with parsley potatoes, and cranberry sauce and it is part who I am.
PP: James, tell us about the background of the team who created the Osetra Bay experience.
JS: Michael Alberga, a local lawyer and businessman and I joined forces to conceive and design Osetra Bay for dining pleasure. I have 18 years of fine dining directorship in London and wanted to bring the most exquisite gastronomical experience to the Cayman Islands. We enlisted the help of Cayman's premier builder and designer, John Hurlstone, to create a unique venue that embodied the rustic elegance of St. Tropez and the relaxed ambience of South Beach.
PP: Where did the inspiration of "the rustic elegance of St Tropez and the relaxed ambience of South Beach" come from?
JS: Cayman is an exclusive destination that has discerning visitors with eclectic tastes from all over the world. So it's the perfect place to entertain and challenge the pallets of a variety of guests. It also means that one has to be versatile and appeal to the people of both Europe and the Americas, as they both have different approaches to their cuisine and preferences.
PP: We've noticed some wedding showers and birthday celebrations in the times we've eaten here.
JS: Yeah, Osetra Bay is a beautiful venue for hosting weddings, showers, birthdays an other special events.
PP: If someone was experiencing Osetra Bay for the very first time, what would you suggest as your very favorites?
JS: The first timers have the world as their oyster. If you haven't dined at Osetra Bay before, you have a choice. Either you can throw out the diet go for the entire menu (take a while though!) as each dish is as good as or better than the next. Or you can plan to come back several times!
Osetra Bay resonates with your senses with an elegant atmosphere that says sophistication and style without pretentiousness. The inside decor utilizes lighting, space, color and design to communicate tranquility and serenity, with a touch of excitement. When you enter, you feel that "the rustic elegance of St Tropez and the relaxed ambience of South Beach" in a backdrop of white linen and first class service.
There is a little bit of magic to be had when you sit down for a meal that is prepared with the intention of being the best you've ever had. In fact, passengers say, "it's the kind of dining experience you want to save for your very last night on the island." Even better, make it your first night on the island, that way you will be giving yourself the chance to go back for a second time during your stay!
Osetra Bay is open for dining Monday through Saturday from 6 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. Sunday from 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. The bar and lounges are open Monday through Friday from 6 p.m. to 1 a.m., Saturday from 6 p.m. to 12 a.m. and Sunday 12 noon to 2:30 p.m. Reservations for can be made on line by visiting www.osetrabay.com, or by calling (345) 623-5100 or (345) 325-5000.