Sassafras Bitters

I love how certain smells instantly transport you to a distant time. Your olfactory glands are like magical teleportation devices. The smell of sassafras takes me back to the time when I was younger running around in Georgetown Delaware, playing in the woods of with my younger brothers in the spring and summer. A tree would snap and the air would be perfumed with the woody root beer smell. I loved it! I would try to find as much of the red hued wood and roots as possible to carve and make tea.

My good friend Nathan Tanner is now digging the roots for me, with his kids. I was looking for a way to utilize the fragrant, bitter, sweet quality of it. I knew would pair perfectly with bourbon, so I created this powerful elixir.

Sassafras bitters in the making.

Sassafras bitters in the making.



750 ml. bottle of neutral grain spirit (I used a white corn whiskey)

2 vanilla Beans split

2 star anise pods

1 t. fennel seeds

4 clove

2 black cardamon

2 t. wormwood

1 pound sassafras root

1 t. shredded oak

1 t. dry caramel

.5 oz sassafras root extract. (not needed, but really Boost flavor!)


Toast all spices until fragrant. Combine all ingredients in a jar. Let macerate for 2 weeks, agitating once per week.  Strain and enjoy!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!

A spring cocktail made with bourbon and sassafras bitters!



one plate at a time.

I am honored to report that I have recently been nominated for a James Beard Rising Star Chef Of The Year Award. I am one of twenty eight semifinalists. On March 18th they will announce the finalist. I am excited to find out the outcome! I want to thank the person or people who submitted my name to the James Beard Foundation. I was truly in shock when I read my name on their website. I am proud of our accomplishments at restaurant a(MUSE.). This nomination may have my name on it, but it is a tribute to the hard work of all our dedicated staff.

When I was a young cook, I once told my mentor at the time, Kevin Reading, that I aspired to one day be a regionally great chef. He was very encouraging and stated that anything was possible through hard work. To me, regionally great meant a chef who was known in the mid atlantic for creating an excellent product and developing a style of cuisine that guests would come from surrounding areas and beyond to enjoy. At this point I feel that I am on my way.

With cooking I have never been in competition with anyone but myself. It would be great to be a James Beard Finalist. No matter what happens I will still keep cooking, doing my best  to cook a high level of cuisine one plate at a time.

A look at recent plates at at restaurant a(MUSE.)

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

Photo was taken by Courtney Swift.

foie gras

Hudson Valley foie gras with carrots and pine (CS Photo)


In the kitchen (CS Photo)

Nantucket Bay scallops - trout Roe - lardo - potato - fennel

Nantucket Bay scallops – trout Roe – lardo – potato – fennel (CS Photo)

flatiron steak - onion - turnip - hedgehog mushrooms

flatiron steak – onion – turnip – hedgehog mushrooms (CS Photo)

house cured coppa - Cheseapeake gold oyster - oyster mushroom - cedar - sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side.

house cured coppa – Cheseapeake gold oyster – oyster mushroom – cedar – sunchoke. a broth of mushroom, cedar, ham, and oysters poured table side. (instagram picture)

oak creme brûlée -orange curd - bourbon -molasses - shattered caramelized honey gummy - smoked almond

oak creme brûlée -orange curd – bourbon -molasses – shattered caramelized honey gummy – smoked almond (instagram picture)

razor clam - foraged sumac - wintered acorn - spice bush gel

razor clam – foraged sumac – wintered acorn – spice bush gel (instagram)

beach bonfire our version of smores

beach bonfire our version of smores (instagram)

Lobster - beets - horseradish - rose hip vinaigrette

Lobster – beets – horseradish – rose hip vinaigrette. A plate created for a tasting menu. (instagram)

Thanks again for everybody’s love and support.

Now the official blog of a(MUSE.) Restaurant inspired food & drink in Rehoboth Beach Delaware.

Wow, with the holiday season successfully behind us I have a little more time to breath.  A little more time to read, write and work on this blog. Business has slowed significantly but  I am still working hard everyday here at a(MUSE.) in the now sleepy town of REHOBOTH BEACH DELAWARE. I Have decided to make The Comb & Wattle more about the day-to-day happenings in my restaurant plus a format to share all of the fun side projects that I have going on.

This month I will be teaching a lot of private and public classes and workshops. I will report about those as they happen. My next demo/lunch here at a(MUSE.) will be held on Saturday January the 26th at 12:00 o’clock Sharp. The subject will be Holiday Gadgets! I have been taking suggestions on what will be taught that day. I am also available to do private cooking classes for individuals or groups either here at a(MUSE.) or at your location.

Recently I have been involved in the formation of R.I.C.I. (Rehoboth Inspired Chefs Initiative) a non-profit organization dedicated to helping the cause of local food related issues and to raising money for other charitable causes. Click on the link above to like us on Facebook. We have already done many great things and have a lot of big plans for the future. Our founding board members consist of Jay Caputo chef owner of Espuma, Cabo, The Rose & Crown, Lion and Meg Gardner chef and owners of The Blue Moon, Gretchen Hanson Chef owner of Hobo’s, Shawn Xiong chef owner of Confucius, Danielle Panarello Pastry Chef of Jam,Eden.

Yesterday R.I.C.I. collaborated with 16 Mile Brewery on a beer that will benefit The Food Bank Of Delaware. It was a great morning filled with beer making magic. We brewed a porter called Post Apocalyptic Ale. We chose chocolate, Guajillo Chiles, and orange as the main flavor profile. I can’t wait to taste it! The Release date will be in early February. Chef Jay Caputo with unveil it on January 31st. at an all day event at The The Rose & Crown in collabration with 16 Mile.

I have been really into Instagram lately so a lot of my photography has been done on my Iphone 5. It is the camera that is always on and by my side. I really like shooting with my Cannon EOS Rebel T3i but being that I am always in the kitchen it is harder to have it ready to shoot. Here are some of my recent INSTA-PICS!

Where the magic happens at 16 Mile Brewery!

Where the magic happens at 16 Mile Brewery!

Guajillo chiles

Guajillo chiles

The cocoa

The cocoa





Black Bass - celery - parsnip  - cabbage - leek

Black Bass – celery – parsnip – cabbage – leek

Nantucket Bay scallops - brown butter - potato - green apple - trout roe

Nantucket Bay scallops – brown butter – potato – green apple – trout roe

I love feed back so let me know whats on you minds! Any suggestions on writing topics always considered!


Fall is here and the weather is beautiful here at the beach. There are less people in town but were still bringing the love. I have been posting a lot of picture on instagram and here are some of my favorite ones. Plus a picture of my arm!

I have been a bad blogger lately in pursuit of being the best chef/restaurateur that I can be. Now that the pace has changed I will post more often. Thanks for your continued support! Tell a friend about The Comb & Wattle. I will be posting more photos, recipes and featuring farmers and foragers in future post. If you want me to cover a story I am very open to suggestions. Cheers! Enjoy!

Pistachio financier – duck prosciutto – butternut squash – pistachio praline. A dish presented at the Celebrity Chefs Beach Brunch to benefit Meals on Wheels Delaware.

Our fall soup at a(MUSE.)
Acorn soup – house cured berkshire pork lardo – beech mushroom – acorn squash – lemon balm

Roasted figs – preserved lemon – parsnip

Meatless Monday

my arm

Raw squash with puffed grains – foraged prickly pear – sheep sorrel –  and sea bean.

a instagram view of a(MUSE.)

Last week a man that I am social media friends with and do volunteer work with for Meals On Wheels named Dave McCormick came into the restaurant and dined at our bar. He took pictures with instagram and tweeted them to his followers. I loved the photos and the effect that he put on them. I like seeing the food from the customer point of view. Thanks Dave. ENJOY!


marvesta shrimp, caper, ice, horseradish, lemon

cauliflower soup, marrow toast

venison tartare, sorrel, pine, juniper

fluke crudo, beet, potato

textures of the field quinoa, barley, wheat grass

rockfish “cheeks & collars” cabbage, sun choke, violette mustard

local organic chicken hearts, purple asparagus, green almond

day boat scallops, foie gras, cauliflower, leek, tarragon

elysian fields lamb belly and sweetbreads, absinthe, coffee, lambs lettuce

gray tile fish, broad water oysters, chicken oyster, black garlic, purple kale, lemon

strawberry short cake, rose, creme fraiche, toast

Also check out LSD NEWS! They were there for first night of business!

a (MUSE.) Inspired Food and Drink.

I have recently purchased my first restaurant. It will be a place that my team and I can create inspired food and drink in Rehoboth Beach Delaware. We will be dedicated to providing a seamless guest experience with a true hospitality focus. I am currently in the process of working on my ideal space. We are using many reclaimed and organic materials in the design.

The restaurant will be a menu composed of 20-25 small plates with five areas on the menu to choose from. We will cook modernist food that is truly mid-atlantic inspired. We are sourcing the highest quality products that are within our food shed or 150-200 miles, with the exception of coffee, chocolate, wine, and some fruits such as citrus. All of the fish we will serve will be atlantic based and we will be committed to sustainability. We will also  be highlighting naturally and humanely raised animals. We will accommodate vegetarians, vegan, gluten-free, dairy free, and any other dietary restrictions. I want the diner to have the choice of a quick small plate or a grand tasting menu.

In addition to an excellent wine, craft beer, and innovative cocktail menu we will offer a large variety of non-alcoholic beverage options such as proprietary fair trade coffee, tea, and house made soft drinks, spritzers, juices, and mocktails.

We plan to operate with a triple bottom line, focusing on People, Profit, and Planet. People: We will cultivate strong ties within the community in various avenues. We plan to be involved in non-profit events, reaching out to the schools, and doing fundraisers and classes within the restaurant. We will also have a gallery hallway featuring local artist works. Profit: In addition to serving our guests a worthwhile dining experience we will offer branded merchandise items available for purchase both in our restaurant and on our website. We plan to build a strong web and social network presence. Planet: We will work hard to give weight to environmental sustainability and operate with a consciousness of the effects of our operations on the surrounding environment.

My mornings are spent planning and making the project happen and my nights cleaning, painting, designing and pretty much everything else that goes along with preparing a space to reopen in month. I feel blessed to have such a strong dedicated team of friends and coworkers helping out and keeping me sane every step of the way. Yesterday

Fine Line Websites & IT Consulting

launched our splash page coming soon website. I have to tell you it is perfect. Those guys do great efficient work. Check Out our website.

Well enough of blogging I must return to the cleaning:)




“Every day you have the opportunity to learn and experience some-thing and some-one new. Seize the opportunity. Learn and experience everything you can, and use it to change the world.”         Rodney Williams

I recently had the pleasure of cooking for some Cape Henlopen High School students and their family members. The dinner was an award ceremony for the completion of their wellness course. I gave a quick healthy cooking demonstration and then dinner was served. I served food that was healthy and tasty! Everybody really had a great time. Congrats triple ten challenge students. They all were winners!

Healthy spinach salad with apples, hazelnuts, goat cheese, and red wine vin.

Cous cous loaded with fresh veggies and topped with dried aporicots

Cornbread, nothing wrong with that!

grilled scrimp

Ginger oatmeal cookies. Stay tuned for the recipe!