Chef Robbie Bedell would like to dedicate this column to his dear friend, Kenneth Coolidge, who passed away at 35 on Feb. 7, 2014.
In the past few years, our little corner of the state has seen many new restaurants. Some of them come, and some of them go. I like to try them all, with the hope of highlighting the chefs. Today, I’m happy to share recipes from my new favorite restaurant — the Jetty Deli & Coffee Shop, located at 97 Garfield Parkway in downtown Bethany Beach, on the walkway beneath Mango’s restaurant. Both indoor and outdoor seating are available.
Before I highlight a restaurant, I eat there at least twice to see if the food is consistently good and if readers of this column will want to eat there. If I don’t like the food, I don’t go back, and you are none the wiser. I ate at the Jetty three times — two breakfasts and one lunch — before asking Chef Robbie Bedell if he would provide recipes for a column. As you can see, we both hit the jackpot!
I took an immediate liking to this accomplished young chef. He’s kind, caring, considerate, and when he sent the answers to my questions via email, he told me that his family is his “rock and support system. They are the power in my life. We have seen tragedy and miracle alike. My mother is my idol, and her soul pushes me in time of defeat.”
The mother in me welled up when she read that lovely tribute.
Robbie told me that his father passed away before he was born, so he gained strength and perseverance from his aunts and uncles and from his stepfather, Robert Fisher, who instilled in him a strong work ethic, sense of self-worth and pride.
Bedell was born and raised right here in Dagsboro. He played sports and said he was outgoing, but lacked confidence. In 1991, he took a job “working under the table” at the former Libby’s Family Restaurant in Fenwick Island and quickly took to the fast-paced environment and “wide variety of characters, both at the front and back of the house.”
When he entered high school, he felt like he didn’t fit in until he got a job at Casey’s Bar & Grill in Bethany Beach (now The Parkway restaurant).
“I felt for the first time that I was good at something and accepted by coworkers and customers alike. After that, I bounced around as a line cook in various local restaurants, but didn’t have any aspirations for the future,” he said.
Then, he took a job at Cripple Creek Country Club, under the tutelage of Executive Chef Charles Theologus.
“He changed my life forever,” Bedell said. “Not only did he take me in and mentor me, he saved me from really going down the wrong path and probably saved my life. He didn’t coddle me. He said that I had a gift but had no idea how to use that talent or even focus on how to use it. He taught me the meaning of tough love and, over the next three years, we worked side-by-side. I got serious about my craft. I gained confidence and I learned that caring for others made caring for myself a lot easier.”
Bedell also learned that being in charge is about much more than making schedules and placing orders.
“It’s about those who work for you and how you make them feel and the environment that you create for them,” he said.
In 2004, after Theologus moved on to other ventures, Bedell decided to honor his mentor by enrolling in the same cooking school — L’Academie de Cuisine in Gaithersburg, Md.
When asked if he has a signature dish, Bedell said, “No, but I have a signature style that people have come to expect of me, both personally and professionally. If your heart and mind can’t meet at the same time in the same place, then it will show on the plate.”
He also loves to cook at home for family and friends. He is a single dad to 8-year-old son Cole, an upcoming third-grader at Southern Delaware School of the Arts in Selbyville, Del. “We make a great team.” he said, “Me as a single dad who cooks, and him as a food critic!”
Chef/owners who work around the clock must find a way to keep the balance. Bedell plays softball for the Ocean View Dirty Dozen, in the men’s 18-and-up league. He’s proud that they have been league champions.
“This is the same group of friends I played with in Little League,” he said.
He also enjoys fishing with his buddies Matt, Dave and Billy.
“I also work out and meditate at Assawoman Wildlife Refuge in Frankford, with my late friend Kenny looking down on me,” he added.
Bedell praised his team — partners Matt Merrick, and Matt and Jackie Burns, and their families.
“We are learning how to blend our lives and our futures one plate at a time,” he said. “This journey has made us a part of our community, and we couldn’t be more thankful or blessed.”
The Jetty Deli is open seven days a week, from 7 a.m. until 5 p.m., serving breakfast (full cooked menu from eggs to waffles and breakfast sandwiches to scones, donuts, bagels, etc.), lunch and dinner. (They currently close at 5 p.m., so that will be an early dinner.) However, they plan to remain open until 7 p.m. on Labor Day weekend and will revisit later closing times next year.
Catering is also a specialty of Bedell and Matt Merrick. They have many years’ experience providing food for weddings, parties and golf outings at Bayside Golf. If you provide 24 to 48 hours’ notice, catering is still on their to-do list. The Jetty phone number is (302) 616-2169, or visit online at www.jettydeli.com.
Before we head into Chef Bedell’s recipes, those who know me know that I’m not a traditional breakfast fan. I eat whatever’s in the fridge, perhaps leftovers from last night’s dinner, such as a lamb chop and coleslaw, or pizza and a salad. So, I was delighted when Robbie told me that if I want fish tacos for breakfast, go for it. If I want a waffle for dinner, go for it. Whoa! My kind of place!
When I arrived for lunch at the Jetty, the place was packed. I stopped by a table and introduced myself to two women — Jan Stanko and Linda Chin — both high-school teachers in Columbia, Md. They were enjoying a vacation together before heading back to begin the new school year. They raved over their fish tacos.
When I told them about my column and that I hoped to highlight the Jetty, Jan told me to order the fish tacos. She said she’d love to know how the chef got the taste of Parmesan cheese both on the inside and outside of the taco shell. I did order them, and Chef Bedell has graciously given me the recipe for this very popular menu item.
I’m in contact with Jan and Linda and have told them how to access this column (and others) online at www.CoastalPoint.com. Enter Marie’s Kitchen in the search box, and up come the columns — photos and all. So, for Jan and Linda, and me, here is Chef Bedell’s Jetty Tacos recipe.
Allow prep time for the tasty Parmesan tortillas. After coating in oil and Parmesan cheese, they must dry before filling. The fish and tortillas in the list of ingredients are enough for just one serving, so if you want more, multiply quantities for additional servings.
• 6 ounces fresh, cubed rockfish, mahi-mahi, or preferred white fish, for two tacos
• 2 flour tortillas per person
• 1/2 cup olive oil (not extra virgin) and additional for coating tortillas
• 2 cups shredded Parmesan cheese
• 1 teaspoon Jetty Spice, which is a mild seasoning that compares to store-bought Creole seasoning (Marie prefers Tony Chachere’s Original Creole Seasoning. It contains no MSG.)
• Shredded cabbage
• Fresh salsa or Pico de Gallo (Jetty recipe follows)
• Shredded Cheddar/pepper Jack cheese blend
• Garlic/sweet chili mayonnaise Boom-Boom sauce (See Marie’s note following recipe.)
• Fresh lime wedges
Method for Jetty Tacos:
Using two separate paper plates, evenly spread olive oil on one and Parmesan cheese on the other.
Place each flour tortilla lightly in oil, just enough to coat both sides. Do not soak or leave tortilla in oil.
Then, lay tortillas in the Parmesan cheese, covering shell completely. You want the shell covered, but not weighed down, by cheese.
Place coated tortilla shells in a cool, dry place, on deli or parchment paper, so that the cheese and oil can dry. Do not refrigerate or tightly wrap.
Toss cubes of white fish in Creole seasoning. In a sauté pan, heat 1/2 cup olive oil to medium heat. Then place seasoned fish cubes into the pan and cook to desired doneness.
Spray another sauté pan or griddle with non-stick spray. Heat to low temperature and place tortillas in pan. Watch closely for tortillas to bubble up and begin to brown. Flip over and brown the other sides. Tortilla brands vary, so watch carefully; do not burn.
Once shells and fish are complete, fill the taco shells, beginning with fish, then cabbage, salsa, cheese and sauce, or serve sauce on the side, with a wedge of lime. Yield: Two shells equal one serving.
Chef Bedell told me that he tasted Boom-Boom Sauce at a food show and dissected it to make his own version to top his tacos. Ken’s (the salad dressing company) makes a Boom-Boom Sauce, but it is only available commercially — not yet in supermarkets.
I did a little online research and found several recipes — some more difficult than others. I played with the recipes to come up with my own simple sauce and offer that recipe here for you. I used to use Sriracha Hot Chili Sauce but have switched to Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce, which has fewer ingredients than Sriracha and was the secret ingredient used in the original Buffalo wings created in Buffalo, N.Y., in 1964. Just call me a traditionalist!
Marie’s Boom-Boom Sauce
• 1/4 cup mayonnaise
• 1 tablespoon sweet bottled chili sauce
• 1 teaspoon Frank’s Red Hot Buffalo Wings Sauce
Method for Marie’s Boom-Boom Sauce:
Mix all ingredients and let sit awhile to blend flavors. Serve atop (or beside) fish tacos. Yield: 4 servings.
The Jetty’s Fresh Pico de Gallo
• 6 ripe tomatoes, finely diced
• 2 crisp cucumbers, finely diced
• 3 fresh jalapeños, topped, seeded, and finely diced
• 1 large red onion, finely diced
• Juice of 2 fresh limes
• 1 teaspoon cumin
• 1 teaspoon garlic salt or powder
• 1 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper
Method for Pico de Gallo:
In a large mixing bowl, combine tomatoes, cucumbers, jalapeños, onion and lime juice. In a separate bowl, mix cumin, garlic salt and pepper. Add this spice mix to the veggies and mix well. Let sit for five minutes. Drain excess juice before serving.
Chef’s note: This is a mild-to-medium salsa. For additional heat, add two more jalapeños or cayenne peppers.
Plan to make Chef Bedell’s red-skinned potato salad a day ahead of when you will serve it. Salt is omitted from the ingredients list, because the bacon, ham and ranch dressing contain enough salt for the whole recipe. For best results, refrigerate the salad for at least eight hours and serve cold.
Jetty Twice-Baked Potato Salad
• 5 pounds red-skinned potatoes (do not peel)
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1/2 cup ranch dressing
• 1-1/2 cups sour cream
• 2 ounces fresh chives, minced
• 1 ounce fresh parsley, finely chopped
• 1 teaspoon garlic powder
• 1 tablespoon fresh black pepper
• 1 red onion, diced
• 1/2 pound cooked bacon, diced and divided
• 1/2 pound capicola or black forest ham, diced and divided
• 2 cups shredded Cheddar cheese (pepper Jack or Colby Jack work well, too.)
Method for Twice-Baked Potato Salad:
Reserve a small amount of the diced bacon and ham to use as garnish for the finished salad.
Boil potatoes until three-fourths cooked, or until soft to the touch. Cool completely, then dice to desired size.
Mix mayonnaise, ranch dressing, sour cream, chives, parsley, garlic powder and pepper. Whisk until smooth. Add this sauce to the potatoes and add onion, bacon, ham and shredded cheese. Mix well. Garnish with reserved bacon and ham. Yield: Enough for a big party.
This salad should also be made a day ahead of when you plan to serve it, to allow time for marinating and time for all ingredients to blend.
The Jetty’s Famous Chicken Salad
• 3 pounds boneless, skinless, fresh, never-frozen chicken breasts
• 2 tablespoons minced fresh garlic
• 1/2 cup olive oil
• 1 teaspoon sea salt
• 1 teaspoon cracked fresh pepper
• 1 cup mayonnaise
• 1/4 cup creamy pepper-Parmesan salad dressing
• 2 stalks celery, finely diced
• Reserved chicken drippings
Method for Chicken Salad:
In a large mixing bowl, place chicken breasts, garlic, olive oil, salt and pepper. Mix well to coat chicken. Marinate overnight in refrigerator.
Over a low-flame on the grill, char-grill chicken breasts until cooked all the way through. It’s super important to avoid charring too quickly over a higher heat, because the chicken will turn black and you don’t want that. Cool chicken completely in a rimmed pan so that the juices stay in the pan; do not discard juices. When cool, dice chicken.
In a large mixing bowl, mix chicken, mayonnaise, pepper-Parmesan dressing, celery and the reserved chicken drippings. For best results, refrigerate for a couple hours to allow all flavors to blend. Yield: Enough for 6 to 8 overstuffed sandwiches.
Editor’s note: If you have recipes to share, or recipes you want, contact Marie Cook, Coastal Point, P.O. Box 1324, Ocean View, DE 19970; or by e-mail at ChefMarieCook@gmail.com. Please include your phone number. (Recipes in this column are not tested by the Coastal Point.)