Ambrosia has a new chef at the helm. Michael Sichel is a seasoned veteran who has cooked in the celebrated kitchens of L’Abbey de St. Croix in Provence, France, Gotham Bar and Grill in New York City, Auberge du Soleil in Napa Valley, and spent seven years as Executive Chef at Galatoire’s in New Orleans. He’s excited to “…represent a high-quality white tablecloth restaurant focused on serving the 30A community.”
Sichel landed on 30A just a few years ago. He was in Charleston when the pandemic set in and he and his wife decided to build on the plot of land they owned in Walton County. He found a job at Old Florida Fish House where he stayed for two years.
“30A is a special place. It’s a beautiful place to live. It has a thriving restaurant industry. I was able to build a house on my land. For me, it’s the best of all worlds,” said Sichel.
His love of the fine dining scene was always in the back of his mind—the excruciating attention to detail, the highest level of service, and impeccable food all inspired the chef he is today. Sichel elaborated, “I was never a great student until I became a student of food. When I graduated from culinary school, my idea was to work for 10 great chefs within 10 years to extend my knowledge. I’ve worked everywhere, but my most influential experience was with Richard Reddington in Napa Valley who taught me what it is to be a chef.”
Sichel tutored under Reddington, learning to see the things not everybody sees. He learned to turn a critical eye to every part of service from the floors to the ceilings, honing his attention to detail. Now that observant eye is overseeing the culinary direction at Ambrosia where owner Russ Graham’s vision aligns more with what Sichel is passionate about.
“I’m proud of the four walls I’m representing. I found an opportunity with Russ to pursue my passion for putting out beautiful food in a beautiful environment, and enhancing the dining experience for our customers,” said Sichel.
Visitors come to 30A for the fresh seafood and stunning natural landscape. The team at Ambrosia wants to be the destination for prime seafood prepared with the freshest ingredients daily.
“We have a beautiful display case to showcase our products and who we are as a restaurant. We are product-driven. The best ingredients cooked correctly inspire not just the diners but also our aspiring cooks to love and be proud of what we put on the plate,” said Sichel.
While Sichel gets his feet under him and hones Ambrosia’s culinary direction, he focuses on the basics. “I’m trying to teach my kids how to cook the food again with love and with pride. I’m working with them on the current menu items and just trying to increase the level of quality and consistency.”
No big menu shakeups…yet…but keep your eyes tuned for what Sichel has in store. Until then check out Chef Sichel preparing some Florida red snapper. Oh, and make your way over to Ambrosia for Caymus Happy Hour from 4 p.m. until -6 p.m. every Monday through Thursday—they’ll be pouring a variety of Caymus wines and cocktails alongside delicious bites.
1 cup brunoise (very fine dice) shallot
1 can coconut milk (13.5 oz)
1 lb white rice
1 pt water
4 ea 7oz portions of snapper filet
oil, salt, and pepper
1 cup coconut cream
2 ea limes juiced
1 tbsp butter
½ ea pineapple
½ ea diced red pepper
½ ea diced red onion
1 ea lime juiced
½ bunch chopped cilantro
Pinch salt, pepper, and sugar
Preheat oven to 350 degrees.
In 2 tablespoons of oil sauté the brunoise shallot until it’s soft with no color, add rice, coconut milk, water, and season with salt and pepper, and bring to a simmer. Place lid on top and transfer to the oven for 20 minutes.
While cooking the rice, work on your sauce. In a skillet, simmer the coconut cream until reduced by half, and add lime juice. Off the heat, stir in cold butter to finish your sauce.
The salsa can be prepared in advance, mix all ingredients together.
In a large skillet on a medium flame, when hot add a tablespoon of oil evenly, then place the presentation side of the snapper, seasoned with salt and pepper, directly into the pan. Turn the flame to high wait a minute, then place in the oven for five minutes. I prefer cooking fish on one side through for the caramelization on the presentation side. Take out of the oven and flip in the pan.
You are ready to plate when everything is on top of the stove and finished!
In four bowls, place a scoop of coconut rice, seared snapper on top, the coconut cream sauce, and finish with the pineapple salsa.