"It took them five years before they would let me handle the fish," says sushi chef Jo Clark about his extensive training. He began his culinary journey at 13 years old and spent a decade in an apprenticeship at the Japanese restaurant Yama. There, he honed an ability to prep rice and sauces, wield a knife, and select sushi-grade fish while shadowing chefs from different regions of Japan. In his spare time, Jo enjoys paddle-surfing and once skillfully maneuvered alongside a lively school of sharks.
At the restaurant, however, he deftly manages cuts of salmon, flounder, hamachi yellowtail, and shellfish to craft more than 40 inventive sushi rolls. He toys with the traditions of sushi, wrapping some rolls with thin slices of European cucumber and creating a sashimi pizza on a tortilla crust. The aromas of ginger, eggplant, and garlic wander from pots of Thai-style dishes in the kitchen and out into dining rooms. Though each location has distinct decor, diners mingle among elements such as exposed-brick bars, hardwood floors, and hanging Japanese paper lanterns in the exciting bright colors of a furious traffic cop viewed through a kaleidoscope.
Every day, Cynthia, manager of Jupiter Pointe Paddling, opens her hibiscus-adorned rental hut to let adventure seekers set sail from the sandy banks of a crescent-shaped private beach. A complimentary lesson accompanies every kayak or paddleboard rental, letting beginners get their bearings before they glide toward a nearby sandbar to spot sea turtles, manatees, and majestic stingrays. More experienced water skimmers can paddle up to the Jupiter Lighthouse, which grants a glimpse of 120 palm-studded acres punctuated by 25 special-status species of wildlife and one boring labrador. The staff of water warriors also mixes up the aqueous activities with Mommy and Me sessions, standup-paddleboard-yoga classes, and kids' lessons, along with exalting the outdoors with full-moon celebrations and sealife-spotting tours.
Since 1985, when Paul Flanigan opened the first of five Florida locations, Quarterdeck Seafood Bar & Neighborhood Grill continues to ply diners with succulent seafood and delectable libations. Each location’s culinary team crafts handmade burgers, blackens or grills delicate fish filets, and heaps plates with oysters and yellowfin tuna from the raw bar. International wines, martinis, and shooters refresh palates between bites, and when weather permits, sliding windows and doors fill the restaurant with wafts of fresh air. The Quarterdeck complements its oceanic menu with its decor of old-maritime equipment, saltwater-fish tanks, and the understudy shark from Jaws, and its flat-screen televisions and billiards tables entertain through the day and night.
Contemporary and classical styles mingle across Gazebo Cafe’s menu of shareable plates and French-influenced entrees, including duck-liver pâté, balsamic confit, and roasted rack of lamb. The meshing of new and old also surfaces in the dining room, which elegantly sports sleek, cobalt blue chandeliers and antique chinaware. Floor-to-ceiling windows illuminate servers as they float from table to table, pouring wines from a list of more than 200 bottles and training silverware to perform intricate song-and-dance routines.
At the Palm Beach Chili Cook Off, local businesses, community leaders, and citizens vie to be named the chef of the Hottest Chili, a title that comes with a $1,000 grand prize in bills or magic beans. Other competitors grab accolades for Best Team Name, Chili Name, and Most Creative Chili Attire. Visitors can eat their fill of spicy stews and then explore a waterfront boutique showcasing works from local vendors or stop by Family Village, where amusement-park rides and carnival games live in harmony. Throughout the day, live performers take the main stage, muffling the sounds of revelry with the steady thrum of country and rock music.
When Dean Lavallee opened the first Park Avenue BBQ in 1988, he had one lofty mission in mind: to serve the best barbecue ever made. Despite the seemingly impossible nature of his goal, he and his team continue to rise to the challenge, dry-rubbing their meats to smoke and char-grill on-site. They use all-natural, grain-fed, domestic pork for their traditional and Carolina-style barbecue pork—pulled by hand—and only use fresh, never-frozen ribs that are smoked daily over hickory. As diners chow down on hearty homestyle sides, seafood platters, or buffalo wings tossed in one of six sauces, they can admire the dining room's pictures of their city's most prominent people, places, and robot mayors.
Park Avenue BBQ arranges their meats into fun, hearty dishes such as the Dempublican sandwich, which combines smoked pork and beef brisket separated only by cheese and bacon to create a sizeable sandwich that the team has dubbed "porkalicious". They whip up Funnybonz, which look and taste like miniature ribs, using tender, lean pork that's prepared by cooking up regular ribs beneath a shrink ray. In 2008, their dedication to each dish caused Cityvoter's users to name Park Avenue BBQ the best barbecue in town.