Local culinary pros stoking friendly fire at Fork+Flask@Nage on Tuesdays

November 28, 2017

Whoever said familiarity breeds contempt should pay a visit to Fork+Flask @ Nage in Rehoboth Beach on Tuesday evenings.

"For us it's all about providing comfort and service that emphasizes community spirit," says Sean Corea, general manager and executive chef of the kitchen and bar. The enthusiastic young chef is quick to add that outstanding food is also a given. He notes that his kitchen has become something of a welcoming Tuesday night playground for local food pros and cocktail connoisseurs who come in to show off their talents.

Corea concedes that on any other night of the week, the visiting industry professionals are the brand ambassadors for some of the area's best known restaurants. "Sure there's a competitive element, but on any given Tuesday here at Fork+Flask, we're just friends getting together to share our passion for food, for cooking. But it's also collaboration, and a way to show our guests what we do best," according to Corea, a native Delawarean and graduate of the Culinary Institute of America.

"Happy campers, doing what we love is all I can say," adds Corea, who has filled some impressive shoes of the Nage alumnae before him -  Hari Cameron of A(muse.) and Grandpa Mac and James Beard award nominee; Kevin Reading, original founder of Nage, and now owner-chef at Abbotts Grill and Brickworks Brewery; plus Brenton Wallace, creator of Crust & Craft in Rehoboth. "It's always fun to see who's going to be Tuesday's surprise guest, but it's never a disappointment," says Michael Moreland, a local Rehoboth fan who was among the guests at the Tuesday night Fried Chicken Throwdown.

The event featured three local chefs, plus Bob Yesbek, aka The Rehoboth Foodie food reviewer and champion of Southern Delaware's hospitality industry. "Many of our guests were surprised to know that Bob holds a Black Belt in the Fried Chicken category," laughs Corea.

"It turned out to be a lot more than just a competition and a typical night in a restaurant," says Yesbek. "Each of the four competitors (three experienced chefs ... and me) spent most of our afternoon prep time helping one another make our chicken contest entries as good as they could be." The friendly fire chefs included Billy Lucas from Taco Reho, Dom Pandolfino, the chef at Crooked Hammock Brewery & Restaurant, and Fork+Flask's Corea - are all part of the La Vida Hospitality Group.

Yesbek noted that the camaraderie continued as guests began to stream into the restaurant. "As our dishes began to fly out of the kitchen, Sean summed it up best when he came up to me at the busiest time and quietly remarked, 'What an amazing vibe in here tonight!' And he was right. Each of the contestants, myself included, not only helped to run the food to the tables, but spent time at each table making sure the guests' experiences were as enjoyable as possible."

What's next for this hospitality groundswell? On Tuesday, Nov.14, Fork+Flask will host a fun Food & Spirits Duel with four innovative chefs, each facing off create a different wild game dishes. Each will be paired with cocktails featuring spirits from Dogfish Head Distilling Company. "It's a preview kick-off to our packed-house Winter Cocktail Party. Save the date. It's Jan. 28," advises Corea.

The Nov. 14 it's a Four-Chef Face-Off, including Zach Dick from Dogfish Head Brewpub, Doug Powell from Chesapeake & Maine, plus La Vida Hospitality's Lucas and Corea. Guests will enjoy all four of the competing chefs' wild game dishes, paired with Chai Spiced Rum Punch. The drink is smooth, rummy goodness in the form of Barrel Honey Rum from Dogfish Head Distilling Co. It's batch-distilled using a wash of Grade A fancy molasses barreled in new charred American oak casks, then sweetened with a touch of honey for sipping goodness.

Afterwards, guests will cast their ballot for their favorite. Is there a common ingredient for this event? "Fun. Lots of fun," says Corea.

For reservations: call 302-226-2037 or online at FORKANDFLASK.COM. The restaurant is located at19730 Coastal Hwy., Route One Southbound, Rehoboth Beach.