Paul presents one of his dishes
Flitter Over to Firefly
By Kathleen Walls
you think of Panama City Beach, you usually think of the type of food
enjoyed by spring breakers; burgers, fries and the like. Being known as
the "Redneck Riviera" doesn't help envision a gourmet restaurant either. Yet
right in the heart of the beach city, there is Firefly proving all the
stereotypes wrong by serving award winning food
fit for a king, or perhaps a president.
President Obama and First Lady Michelle pose with Firefly staff
Chef Pau; and Rick Shockley
August when the Obama family made a short visit to show the world that
the Gulf beaches are safe and fun, they choose Firefly for a Saturday
night dining experience.
Chef Paul Stellato served a tuna appetizer and a course of fried oysters to the
First Family. For dinner, Michelle Obama had lobster,
Sasha had pasta alfredo and the President had a New
York Strip and shrimp. For dessert, the First Family enjoyed
cr�me br�l�e. This is a restaurant that would be perfectly
at home in any cosmopolitan
city in the world.
restaurant, the chef is the mainstay and Firefly is no exception.
"President Obama wasn't the first president I've cooked for," said Chef
Paul Stellato. "I've also
cooked for Bill Clinton and Al Gore. "
fact that Chef Paul can hold his own with any chef is reinforced by BP's
choice of him for the 'Spirit of the Gulf' to Team USA they sent to
London for the Olympics in an effort to try and promote the Gulf coast.
Executive Manager, Rick Shockley said, "They were very excited
about this honor."
Stellato is one of only eight chefs from Alabama, Louisiana,
Mississippi, and Florida that will prepare their own dishes in London.
"They're took my seafood packing it here and then shipping it
over to London and I preparing it there and served it to the guests."
Stellato said, "I served it to about 800 people."
||White Chocolate Cr�me
confined that his secret was using fresh local food whenever possible.
Our server was Landon Cole. He was meticulous in his presentation of the
exquisite dishes. We started with a special appetizer as tasty as it was
pretty followed with some savory she crab soup. For our entree, I
enjoyed the Pan Seared Duck served with potatoes, green beans with a
crawfish tomato onion broth over it. My assistant had the Filet Mignon
glazed with a red wine deme and served with potatoes and asparagus. Our
butters were tomato
puree, cherry and roasted garlic and really complemented the meal. We
both managed to save room for dessert, I sampled the White Chocolate Cr�me Br�l�e
and was delighted. Veronica had the fruit cheesecake and was equally
Firefly's atmosphere is a perfect match for its food. There is a
courtyard look. The centerpiece of the dining area is a huge tree filled
with white lights. Deep within the branches you see a tiny flicker
remarkably like a real firefly. It blinks on for a moment than your eye
is drawn to another flicker at a different point. Our waiter told us "it came all
the way from Disney World and was shipped in four different sections and
then assembled here."
Another feature is a fantastic mural of their former restaurant,
It is so realistic, you want to go over and smooth the drapery
hanging around it. If you give in to the temptation, you will be
surprised to fine it is actually a part of the mural and not the soft
cloth it looks like.
next time you visit Panama City Beach, forger the burgers and fries and
fliter over to Firefly. You will not be disappointed.
Paul's Grouper w/ Onion Corn Relish & Creamy Crab Sauce
This is the dish he served in London.
� cup Cream Sherry
1 & � lb Shallots
1 tsp Greek Seasoning
1 & � cup Heavy Whipping Cream
1 oz Jumbo Lump Blue Crab Meat
4 Cherry Tomatoes (Sliced In Half)
1 Lb Fresh Corn
1 Tbls Scallions
1 oz Olive Oil
� oz Butter
Preheat olive oil in medium saut� pan over medium-high heat. Season fish
and lightly flour. Place into pan & cook until golden brown. Turn &
finish cooking fish, remove & set aside.
Relish: After removing fish, reheat pan on low heat. Add shallots & cook
until translucent. Add fresh corn, scallions, & cherry tomatoes. Finish
by folding � oz of soft unsalted butter.
In a separate sauce pot, add � cup of cream sherry & � lb of shallots &
reduce by half until translucent. Add 1 tsp of greek seasoning and 1 & �
cup of heavy whipping cream. Reduce until it thickens (blonde roux may
be used). Add jumbo lump blue crab meat when finished to prevent the
lumps from breaking.
Assembly: Place crab sauce on the bottom of the plate. Add onion, corn,
& relish to the center of the sauce. Top with grouper.