Creative Union at the Green Marlin

Self-taught chef Lou Kolbauer blends his own inventions with ideas from his staff

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Chef Lou Kolbauer is inspired by his Irish heritage. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Chef Lou Kolbauer is inspired by his Irish heritage. Photo by Kim Bottalico

What do you get when you cross an Irish pub and a Florida seafood restaurant?

You may never have wondered about that question, but self-taught chef Lou Kolbauer did. It was what inspired one of his restaurants, the Green Marlin.

Kolbauer explains that he always enjoyed the atmosphere of Irish pubs, with their warm hospitality. However, when it came to food, he grew up in Florida and preferred seafood restaurants. So, he relates: “I had the idea to put an Irish pub and a seafood restaurant together.” That was his idea for the Green Marlin. “Green” is meant to be an Irish reference, although Kolbauer admits wryly that most people don’t realize that. In any case, Kolbauer describes the Green Marlin as offering “Irish pub hospitality” but with a culinary focus on seafood.

Kolbauer is the chef and owner of the Green Marlin, and it is neither his first nor his only Vero Beach restaurant. He is also the chef-owner of Chive, which he describes as “quick, creative cuisine.” Chive came first, and it is designed with an open-kitchen plan. “We cook in front of you with fresh products,” he says. The open kitchen provides reassurance for guests that the food is fresh and carefully prepared; it also allows them to enjoy watching the culinary process.  

Given his restaurant success, it is intriguing that Kolbauer is largely self-taught as a chef. “I always enjoyed cooking,” he explains. “I worked in restaurants when I was in college, but I was never a cook; I was waiting tables or tending bar.” So how did he develop his skills? “Really, just by playing in the kitchen—by tasting and learning.” He adds with a laugh, “I think someone in my heritage had a knack for cooking, and that just got passed on to me.”

With that kind of background, it makes sense that Kolbauer is willing to give aspiring chefs a chance, and the staff at both the Green Marlin and Chive contribute recipes. The majority of the recipes on the menus are Kolbauer’s own inventions, but, he says, “I let the staff come up with their own, too. I worked at restaurants where the staff were not allowed to do that.” He remembers how frustrating that was for his own creativity, and therefore he is determined to set a more welcoming tone for staff input.  

After all, maybe some of his waiters or bartenders have culinary arts in their gene pools, too. 

Stuffed Clams at Green Marlin. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Stuffed Clams at Green Marlin. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Appetizer: Stuffed Clams

In keeping with Kolbauer’s lifelong love of seafood, this is a classic appetizer.

Serves 2 

  • 6 middleneck clams
  • 2 cups water
  • 1 cup white wine
  • 2 oz. diced andouille sausage
  • 1 tbsp. diced green bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. diced red bell pepper
  • 1 tbsp. finely diced scallion
  • 1 tbsp. mayonnaise
  • 1 tsp. fresh lemon juice
  • 1 tsp. fresh minced garlic
  • Pinch salt and pepper
  • 2 tbsp. panko bread crumbs
  • 3 oz. grated Parmesan cheese

Steam the clams in a pot with the water and the white wine until the clams open. Discard any clams that do not open. Remove clams from the shells. Coarsely chop the clams. 

Combine all ingredients except the Parmesan cheese. 

Stuff all 12 shells with the mix and bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 5 minutes.

Top with Parmesan and broil for 2 minutes.

Baked Boston Cod at Green Marlin. Photo by Kim Bottalico
Baked Boston Cod at Green Marlin. Photo by Kim Bottalico

Entrée: Baked Boston Cod

Kolbauer’s idea of combining a seafood restaurant with an Irish pub seems to be exemplified with this dish.

Serves 2 

  • 14 oz. fresh cod fillet
  • 6 tbsp. crumbled Ritz crackers
  • 8 oz. unsalted butter
  • 4 oz. Chardonnay
  • 2 oz. fresh lemon juice
  • 2 tsp. fresh minced garlic
  • Salt and pepper to taste
  • 6 oz. heavy cream
  • Parsley (for garnish)

In a 12-oz. baking dish, layer half the Ritz crackers, then the cod, and top with the remaining crackers. 

Melt all other ingredients except the cream and mix them together; pour approximately 60 percent of the liquid over the crackers and cod. 

Bake at 375 degrees Fahrenheit for 40 minutes. 

In a flat pan, add the cream to the remaining liquid and reduce. 

Broil the cod for 3 minutes and add the reduced sauce on top. Garnish with fresh parsley.

Chilled No-Bake Pistachio Pie at Green Marlin. Photo by Kelly Rogers
Chilled No-Bake Pistachio Pie at Green Marlin. Photo by Kelly Rogers

Dessert: Chilled No-Bake Pistachio Pie

This “easy and refreshing” dessert is a specialty at the Green Marlin.

Serves 6

  • 1 (9-inch) graham cracker pie crust
  • 1/2 cup pistachios, coarsely chopped
  • 2 boxes instant pistachio pudding mix, 3.4 oz. each
  • 12 oz. evaporated milk
  • 1 1/4 cups cold half-and-half
  • 8 oz. whipped topping or 2 cups whipped heavy cream

Using an eggbeater, beat the pudding mixes and dairy products together, at low speed, for
2 minutes. 

Fold the mixture into the prepared pie crust and chill at least 4 hours. 

The pie may also be served frozen.

 

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