"I hate clumpy salt," said Bruce Ford, local chef and owner of Outriggers Grill, as he shook the saltshaker to break up a "clump."
Making sure that the salt doesn’t clump is just one of his concerns as the restaurant’s owner.
Although Ford only recently bought the restaurant, he has been a chef for many years. While attending Auburn Univeristy, he worked in a restaurant doing salads. Later, he worked as a chef and/or restaurant manager, bringing him up to his current endeavor with Outriggers Grill.
There is a hierarchy among chefs, which Ford refers to as the "Brigade."
An Executive Chef ranks highest, and there are several other ranks, such as Pastry Chef and Banquet Chef.
As Executive Chef, Ford makes all the decisions about the menu; which recipes to be used, and about ingredients.
If you are used to down-home southern cooking with regular seasoning such as ham and salt, you might find Ford’s recipes very interesting.
Instead of your run-of-the-the-mill seasoning, Ford might combine peach sauce with lemon rinds.
Through the years, he has tried many recipes. In fact, he no longer needs to cook a recipe to know what it’ll taste like. He knows what the combinations will taste like in his mind.
His history with food/cooking/and food presentation goes back to his childhood when he often helped his mother, Annette Ford, whom he described as a "gifted cook."
Another place from his childhood where he learned at lot was the Millhaven Plantation, which was a working plantation where he ate most everyday. He can still remember the smells and tastes, and the food served up there. The memories are so vivid that it seems like yesterday, he said.
From those childhood days, Ford has traveled the world experiencing food in other countries.
He said he likes Thai food the best, but relishes French and Italian Classical cuisine as well.
At Outriggers Grill, you can experience some of Ford’s creations.
His "Crab and Corn Chowder" was featured in Southern Living; another local favorite is his "Sticky Shrimp." There is something for everyone.
Ford said he aims for a relaxed atmosphere in his restaurant, even though he does use white linen tablecloths.
But mainly, he wants his customer to like the food. He said he goes a long way to please, even asking for suggestions when a diner isn’t satisfied.
He has the expertise, talent, and desire to make any diner happy with his food.
Where would he most like to eat, if given a choice?
"I’d eat at Millhaven Plantation everyday for the rest of my life," he said.
"Partly because of the memories and partly because the food is so good."
Outriggers Grill is located at Kilkenny Creek, off Hwy. 144. It is open 5-9 p.m. weekdays, and until 10 p.m. on weekends. Call 727-5999 for more information.