A FEW MOMENTS WITH TIDES INN EXECUTIVE CHEF ALEX PASCO
(CSM): You’ve worked at popular destination restaurants (Enchantment Resort and Mii amo spa in Sedona, AZ and 25 Lusk in San Francisco) previously. What have you brought (or plan to bring) to the Tides Inn from these experiences?
(AP): All of my experience has really come together to bring me to this Executive Chef role at the Tides Inn. I think what will really benefit the resort and restaurant teams is my passion for working with local growers and purveyors to create a regionally focused menu, offering ingredients and experiences for guests that they cannot get easily elsewhere. Perhaps more importantly, a restaurant and, for that matter, a resort is only as strong as its team.
I look forward to seeing the impact of implementing a heightened attention to detail and introducing beautiful, delicious dishes to our restaurant menus.
Please explain your passion for foraging and how it plays (or will play) a role in the seasonal menu creations at Tides Inn.
Foraging is, without a doubt, my favorite thing to do when I’m not working. I love the outdoors, I love food, and it brings those two things together in such a special way. That said, it is not something to jump into without careful study. I look forward to familiarizing myself with everything that grows wild in Virginia and spend some time with other foragers. It is not recommended to forage until one can confidently identify different varieties of plants, mushrooms or flowers in the wild. Once properly educated, foraging and the knowledge of what grows easily in Virginia can help a chef craft dishes that are undoubtedly unique. Luxury dining isn’t just about truffles or caviar, in my opinion, it’s about offering something a guest cannot find anywhere else.
What are your favorite oysters and why?
While I still have a lot of east coast oyster tasting to do, I have come to enjoy Baybay oysters which we are harvested by a local oyster farmer exclusively for us. They have a very clean flavor and are the perfect size for eating raw.
What can first-time guests expect from their culinary experience at the Tides Inn?
I think guests at the Tides Inn will find food that is familiar but presented or prepared in a way they haven’t seen before. We take coastal and Southern flavors and prepare them in a bright, simple manner. Our guests are invited to interact with the water through our renowned Oyster Academy and Oyster 101, adding an educational and immersive component to their experience.
Do you have an oyster-related tip or two with our readers?
Don’t underestimate the effect that acid has on an oyster. A little bit of lemon or vinegar can enhance its flavor and take its unique characteristics to the forefront of your palate. However, too much acid can render the oyster flavorless or even texturally unappealing.
Oysters are always more flavorful when they’ve just come out of the water. Even if you think you like a particular variety of oyster and are tempted to order what you know, I would bet that choosing an oyster from a local purveyor will always be the better pick.