Hi everyone! This episode was recorded months before all this Coronavirus-mania all started, but gives a little insight into things to come when we get back to normal 🙂

***PLEASE MAKE SURE YOU SUPPORT YOUR LOCAL RESTAURANT***

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Courtney Wilson and Jenny Robinson of Mellow Cafe and Gastropub.

More on Mellow Cafe

You’re looking for something new. Well, this is not-your-usual coastal fare – in a good way. That means uncommonly healthy, flavorful preparations, with a generous dose of inspiration.

Check back for specials and seasonal updates.

This menu never goes stale.

Website: https://www.mellowkw.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/mellowventureskeywest/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/MellowVenturesKeyWest

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Len Johnson, the co-owner of Better Than Sex – A Dessert Restaurant, to talk about where Len’s wife Dani gets her inspiration as head baker, and how she “tested” her recipes on all their dinner guests.

We talk about the genius behind the restaurant’s name (it was all Dani’s idea), how they had the “guts” to even start this business after the recession, and how changing their client focus catapulted the brand.

Be on the lookout for the Better Than Sex podcast, and don’t forget to visit any one of their many locations to try, “Cookie Nookie Pie,” Between My Red Velvet Sheets Cheesecake,” “Peanut Butter Perversion,” “The Morning After,” just to name a few.

More on Better Than Sex – A Dessert Restaurant

Our dream began in 2003. As newlyweds, I was eager to make my husbands every desire a reality, so when he exclaimed to me “I want dessert!”, I wanted to impress! 

Four hours later after patiently waiting, a fully decorated two-layer Oreo Cookie Cake appeared. Len was a happy hubby.  He proclaimed it ‘amazingly delicious’ and said: “wow if you can do this, what else can you do?”   I am not one for letting go of a challenge and really wanted to “show him” what I could do! Then began the odyssey that leads us to today.

My love of baking stemmed from fond memories in my Italian family’s kitchen alongside my mom. So, I continued and began teaching myself how to bake.  I collected all of my recipes, saved receipts, and took photos of everything I made. Something guided me to do this without reason for several years.  Our concept for BTS had not formed yet. I would bring my creations to work and test them out on friends and co-workers.  They would often exclaim “you should do this for a living.”  Len and I secretly agreed.

When Len said to me ‘write a menu’ and “I’ll write the business plan,” challenge #2 was accepted.  We knew we wanted to create an after-dinner experience, an extension of an evening in a romantic and sophisticated sexy atmosphere.  And so, it begins….

In 2006 we threw a Valentine’s Day Dessert party at our house and invited a few unsuspecting friends. Some of the dessert items we have on the menu today were tested on them. Our idea to open a dessert-only restaurant was officially validated that night. 

We put our twisted minds together and had an incredibly fun time creating what is now Better Than Sex – A Dessert Restaurant. 

On May 20, 2008, we officially opened at our original location, 411 Petronia Street to a full house!

We always believed in our idea and ourselves, however, the road after was a bit more challenging. The first reviews were less than positive and at one point we only had a few thousand dollars to our names. We Never Quit!

Then in 2010 Better Than Sex was featured on the Travel Channel and the rest is history. By 2012 the little location on Petronia Street was standing room only.  We needed a bigger restaurant. It was decided to pick up and move to the current Key West location. Our last night at the Petronia location featured our team and guests picking up their tables and chairs and walking them down the block and setting them up in the new space.

On December 26th, 2015 we opened our Orlando location.  Len and I met over 20 years ago waiting tables in Orlando and it seemed like a perfect fit for our second spot. Orlando opened its doors to a packed house and has been successful since.

Coming full circle, on Valentines’ Day of 2016 we were blessed to have been featured on CBS Sunday Morning. As you can see, Valentine’s Day is significant to BTS.  “We valentine, all the time.”

We are passionate about what we do and now want to share that opportunity with other like-minded people. We are currently offering our concept to franchise nationwide.  

And to think, this was all born from an Oreo Cookie Layer Cake.

Back in 2003, as husband and wife, we made a promise to ourselves….“Lists do work, agreements work, if you believe it, have a partner that can hold you accountable, you can and will make it happen.”  We always will!

With Passion, Dani Johnson – Co-Founder

Website: https://www.betterthansexdesserts.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/betterthansexdesserts/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/betterthansexkw

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/better-than-sex-a-dessert-restaurant-orlando-5

Trip Advisor: https://www.tripadvisor.com/Restaurant_Review-g34345-d1068339-Reviews-Better_Than_Sex_A_Dessert_Restaurant-Key_West_Florida_Keys_Florida.html

Franchise Inquiries: https://www.betterthansexdesserts.com/franchise/

Music Playlist: https://players.customchannels.net/betterthansex/index.html

Artwork provided by: https://www.loversart.net

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with celebrity chef Graham Dailey of the famed Cafe Marquesa.

We talk about his early beginnings at the Peninsula Grill as the Executive Chef, to professional kitchens in New York City, where he worked under well-known Chef Anthony Bourdain.

Later on, Chef Graham moved to Paris and became the first American to apprentice at the Michelin star-rated Hotel Lutetia, one of France’s most prestigious hotels; to now find his new home in Key West at Cafe Marquesa.

More on Cafe Marquesa

One of Zagat’s highest-rated restaurants in Key West.

No visit to Key West is complete without a trip to Café Marquesa, a local and tourist favorite Key West restaurant. For a memorable dining experience, Café Marquesa’s “Contemporary American Cuisine” does not disappoint. Specialties include grilled meats and fresh, local seafood, complemented by inventive appetizers and salads as well as fresh baked bread and desserts made daily.

Diners at the 50-seat restaurant catch glimpses of kitchen theatre behind a hand-painted trompe l’oeil wall. Large mahogany-framed mirrors give diners a view of the entire restaurant. Specialties include locally caught fresh local seafood, complemented by inventive appetizers and house-made desserts.

Based on seasonal availability, our chef selects the finest seafood, meats and produce to design the menu. Our team of talented chefs presents innovative interpretations of classic dishes nightly. Our award-winning Cafe Marquesa will delight your tastebuds with many delectable entrees that you won’t be able to decide which one to choose. But save room for dessert!

A cozy bar is available for drinks, light bites, dessert, and coffee or full meals. Friends and hotel guests meet at the bar prior to dinner and before or after the theatre. It is a great place to begin or end an evening!

Website: http://marquesa.com/cafe-marquesa/

Cozy, high-end hotel eatery celebrated for its genteel ambiance & inventive New American cooking.

Located in: Marquesa Hotel

Address: 600 Fleming St, Key West, FL 33040

Reservations: opentable.com

Phone: (800) 869-4631

Hours: Monday – Sunday: 5:30PM–10PM

More on Chef Graham Dailey

Drawn to culinary arts at an early age, Peninsula Grill Executive Chef Graham Dailey transitioned from teenage summers working on fishing and shrimping boats in the Gulf of Mexico to professional kitchens in New York City, where he worked under well-known Chef Anthony Bourdain. The high-energy, two-year opportunity inspired Dailey to become a professional chef. Dailey moved to Paris, enrolled in the famed Le Cordon Bleu, and became the first American to apprentice at the Michelin star-rated Hotel Lutetia, one of France’s most prestigious hotels. Chef Dailey returned to the United States in 1997 and joined Peninsula Grill as a member of the restaurant’s opening culinary team. After serving as Chef du Cuisine, he assumed the role of Peninsula Grill Executive Chef. 

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/grahamdailey/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/graham.dailey.7

Twitter: https://twitter.com/GrahamDailey

Best Chefs of America: https://www.bestchefsamerica.com/graham-dailey

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with the family (almost the entire family) behind Tropical Vibes Cones & Bowls.

We talked about family values, how the business got started, and how their love for the community is the driving force for the business.

More on Tropical Vibes

A one of a kind, eco-friendly company, family and 🇺🇸 veteran-owned Ice cream shop. Happily serving Brazilian Açaí Bowls, Hawaiian Shaved Ice & Thai Rolled Ice Cream.

YouTube: youtu.be/PqE3_0QQMl8

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/tropicalvibes.keywest/

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/tropicalvibes.keywest

Address: 411 Greene St, Key West, FL 33040

Hours: Monday – Sunday 11AM–10PM

Phone: (305) 906-1100

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Chef Richard of the newly famed Lola’s Bistro.

We talked about how he got started, working with some of the top French and Italian chefs, why he chose to only have 9 tables and how he loves chatting up his customers as he cooks right in the corner of the restaurant.

More on Lola’s Bistro

A new Italian eclectic BYOB restaurant with a bohemian vibe!

Address: 728 Simonton St Key West FL 33040
Dinner House 7 nights (6pm – 11pm)
Reservation only
305-203-4457

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/lolasbistrokeywest

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/lolasbistro_keywest

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/lolas-bistro-key-west

Click here to read the full transcription of the episode: https://backyardsofkeywest.com/lolas-bistro

In this episode, Mark Baratto sits down with famed Chef Bill Hunt, the new head chef at the even more famous Smokin’ Tuna Saloon.

We talk about big changes happening at the Smokin’ Tuna Saloon when it comes to their menu and how his Boston work ethic mixed with his trust in the people that work for him, creates a recipe for success.

The Smokin’ Tuna Saloon

Key West’s premier bustling, open-air hangout featuring 2 bars, and live music on the courtyard stage; and is the musical residence of local musician superstar, Caffeine Carl and The Buzz.

The restaurant and bar features delicious local seafood, tasty drinks, and world-famous t-shirts! Enjoy incredible food from the amazing Chef Bill seven days a week!

Hours

  • BAR: 11am – 2am
  • RESTAURANT: 11:30am – 11pm daily
  • MERCANTILE: 10am – 10pm
  • HAPPY HOUR: 3pm – 5pm

Address & Phone

4 Charles Street, Key West, FL 33040 – Call (305) 517-6350

Website & Social

Website: https://smokintunasaloon.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/smokintuna

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/smokintunasaloon

To read the full transcript, go here: https://backyardsofkeywest.com/chef-bill-hunt-smokin-tuna-key-west

In the episode, Mark Baratto sits down with Tricia Coyne, the owner of the modern chef-driven Firefly restaurant.

We talk about Fireball shots, Great White sharks, her Bubba Award, and how she took her restaurant idea from a college dream into a successful Key West hotspot.

More About Firefly

Firefly is a modern, chef-driven Southern restaurant. They focus on using the best ingredients and a mixture of traditional and modern techniques to create the best possible versions of familiar dishes. Their extensive beer and wine lists feature the same attention to detail and unique products to create something that is at once old and new. They are located between Blue Heaven and Santiago’s Bodega on Petronia Street.

Tricia Coyne comes from a southern family from Louisiana and was raised in the foodie haven of Atlanta. With a love for the water and things with sharp teeth, she delved into a degree in marine biology from UCLA. After traveling the world to swim with sharks and work as a scuba instructor, she chose to revisit her love for all things edible. She found herself with a second bachelors degree in Food and Beverage Management with a specialization in wine.

Tricia sharpened her skills in the belly of Atlanta, including a management internship under acclaimed chef/owner Anne Quatrano at Bachanalia, one of the most revered restaurants in the south, a stint managing for Richard Blais of Flip Burger and Top Chef acclaim, and time managing with Genki Sushi.

After Atlanta, Tricia found herself Working at Key West’s well known Lattitude’s on Sunset Key as a manager. 

Tricia’s ideas for Firefly were conceived before she had finished her degree. With a plethora of experience under her belt, she bit the bullet in 2013 and Firefly has been serving up the best chef-driven southern cuisine in South Florida ever since.

Tricia’s love for Sharks has stayed with her, and she serves as Vice President of Reef Relief. In her free time, she enjoys Legos, wine, and the Oxford comma.

About Executive Chef – Russ Ferstle

Chef Russ Ferstle grew up in Detroit, Michigan, where his love of cooking began as a matter of survival since his mother was such a horrible cook. As Russ grew up, he continued into the restaurant industry in Michigan, apprenticing under French chef Tim Enfield. Eager to learn more, he moved to Chicago in 2003 to gain experience in Chicago’s food scene. He was hired as the sous chef for Sweets and Savories with David Richards, then stayed on with the company to open Barcello’s as chef de cuisine. In 2008, fed up with the cold, Russ relocated to Key West, where he became the chef de cuisine at the Upper Deck at Louie’s Backyard. In 2013, Russ left Louie’s to help open Firefly, where he remains executive chef. In his free time, Russ enjoys tattoos, silver coins, and conspiracy theories.

Website: http://www.fireflykeywest.com

Instagram: https://www.instagram.com/fireflykeywest

Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/FireflyKeyWest

Yelp: https://www.yelp.com/biz/firefly-key-west-key-west-4?osq=firefly+key+west

You can read the full transcript here: https://backyardsofkeywest.com/firefly-key-west