International Intrigue at The Tides

Culinary Institute of America graduate Leanne Kelleher finds inspiration both at home and while traveling the world

Chef Leanne Kelleher is inspired by seeing people enjoy her food. Photography by Kim Bottalico
Chef Leanne Kelleher is inspired by seeing people enjoy her food. Photography by Kim Bottalico

A Vero Beach native, the chef of The Tides grew up cooking with, and for, her family. “I would cook with my Uncle Butch every week, and I cooked family dinners on Sundays,” Leanne Kelleher recalls. Then, after graduating from Saint Edward’s Upper School, she moved to Hyde Park in New York State and attended the Culinary Institute of America.

The “CIA,” as it is affectionately known, gave her top-level training as a chef. “It was the scariest time in my life and it was the best time in my life,” she says. The standards of quality and professionalism that were instilled there have stayed with Kelleher, as has the desire to share the knowledge she gained. There is an expectation, “whether spoken or unspoken,” that CIA graduates will “mentor those who came behind us and pass on the lessons of those who came before us.”

Travel is also a source of culinary inspiration for Kelleher. “To me, traveling is a prerequisite for being a chef. You have to be intrigued by other cultures.” She has traveled widely in Italy, exploring different regions and learning about their amazing variety. “You could be in the north and have a French or Swiss experience,” she notes. On the other hand, in the south and in Sicily, “you could have an almost Moroccan or Greek Mediterranean experience.” She also appreciates the devotion and skill expressed in Italian wine-making and cheesemaking. Kelleher says enthusiastically, “They take pride in their food, and they deserve to. You have to go to Rome, to Venice, to Milan, to Tuscany.”

She has also enjoyed traveling and dining in England. “Pub food is making a rebound,” she says. “Some of the best restaurants in the world are actually converted pubs.” Along with travels elsewhere in Europe and in the Caribbean, these explorations have continually renewed Kelleher’s love for her profession. Always eager to develop new ideas, she has started a catering division that will be full-service and completely customizable, and she is launching a new website.

Ultimately, it is seeing people enjoy a meal together that is Kelleher’s greatest source of inspiration. She is very thankful for her staff and for the family atmosphere of The Tides. “We have customers who have been coming here for 20 years. Creating memories for people, whether they’re here with their kids or their grandkids, that’s what I love. I love to see people joyous.”

Crab cakes from The Tides. Photography by Kim Bottalico
Crab cakes from The Tides. Photography by Kim Bottalico

Crab Cakes

Makes 12 crab cakes

“We have a customer who has a very famous market in Maryland, and he was nice enough to share his crab cake recipe,” says Kelleher. She already had her own secrets, but by combining the two recipes, “we made one awesome crab cake.”

  • 2 whole eggs plus one egg white, whisked
  • 1 cup mayonnaise
  • 1/2 cup horseradish
  • 1 tbsp. Worcestershire sauce
  • Juice of 4 lemons
  • 2 tbsp. brandy
  • 4 tbsp. mustard
  • 1 tbsp. Old Bay
  • 1 red pepper, minced
  • 1 shallot, diced
  • 1 pound each of lump and claw crabmeat
  • 1/2 cup bread crumbs

Combine all wet ingredients and mix thoroughly. Add mustard, Old Bay, peppers, and shallots. Fold in crabmeat and mix thoroughly but gently. Add bread crumbs in batches until you get the desired consistency. Sauté with a small amount of cooking oil until golden brown on both sides. Finish in a 400-degree-Fahrenheit oven for 5–7 minutes.

Brined, grilled pork chops at The Tides. Photography by Kim Bottalico
Brined, grilled pork chops at The Tides. Photography by Kim Bottalico

Brined, Grilled Pork Chops

Serves 4

With a rich sauce and a fascinating range of spices, this recipe reflects Kelleher’s classical training and international perspective.

  • 4 pork chops of your preferred cut and thickness
  • Brining Liquid
  • Pork Sauce

Brining Liquid:

  • 1 cup kosher salt
  • 1/2 cup sugar
  • 1 tbsp. crushed coriander seeds
  • 1 tbsp. crushed black peppercorns
  • 6 crushed juniper berries
  • 8 crushed allspice berries
  • 4 crushed garlic cloves
  • 4 crushed bay leaves
  • 4 sprigs thyme

In a medium saucepan, bring the salt, sugar, and 4 cups water to a boil, stirring to dissolve the salt and sugar. Boil for one minute, then remove from heat and pour into the brining container. Add the coriander seeds, peppercorns, allspice, juniper berries, garlic, bay leaves, and thyme. Pour in 12 cups of cold water.

Once the brining solution is completely cool, add the meat. To submerge the meat, weigh it down using a plate and a jar filled with water. Do not use a metal weight or a jar with a metal lid, as it would react with the brine. Refrigerate the meat in the brine for 24 hours.

Pork Sauce:

  • 2–3 pork bones
  • 1/2 onion, diced small
  • 1 small carrot, diced small
  • 1 tsp. minced garlic
  • 1 tsp. dried thyme
  • 1 tsp. dried rosemary
  • 1–2 bay leaves
  • Port or wine of your choice for deglazing
  • 1/4 cup apple juice
  • 4 cups demi-glace
  • 1 oz. Worcestershire sauce
  • Salt and pepper to taste

Sear pork bones until well-browned. Pour out grease, add vegetables, and cook until caramelized. Add rosemary, thyme, garlic, and bay leaves, and cook for an additional 5 minutes. Deglaze the pot with the port/wine. Bring to a boil and simmer until almost completely evaporated. Add apple juice and reduce. Add demi-glace and bring to a boil. Reduce heat and simmer until reaching desired consistency. Finish with Worcestershire sauce and salt and pepper to taste.

Remove pork chops from brine and pat dry with a paper towel. Grill on high heat until the chops have an internal temperature 140 degrees Fahrenheit for medium rare or 145 degrees for medium. Let chops rest 5 minutes. They will continue to cook to reach 145 degrees or 150 degrees. Plate with pork sauce and your choice of accompaniments.

Carrot cake at The Tides. Photography by Kim Bottalico
Carrot cake at The Tides. Photography by Kim Bottalico

Carrot Cake

Makes 1 cake

Kelleher admits that this carrot cake recipe is complex, but she explains, “You have to go through the trouble of every step, because that’s what makes it great.” Spoken like a true CIA graduate!

  • 4 eggs
  • 1 cup vegetable oil
  • 1/2 tbsp. vanilla extract
  • 2 cups all-purpose flour
  • 2 cups granulated sugar
  • 1 tbsp. baking soda
  • 1 tbsp. baking powder
  • 1 tbsp. ground cinnamon
  • 1/4 tsp. ground nutmeg
  • 1/4 tsp. ground cloves
  • 1/4 tsp. ground allspice
  • 1/4 tsp. salt
  • 2 carrots, grated

Buttercream Icing:

  • 1 package softened cream cheese
  • 1 pound softened butter
  • 2 tbsp. lemon juice

In a food processor with paddle, mix cream cheese until smooth with no lumps. Gradually add butter until completely incorporated, then add lemon juice and mix well.

Preheat oven to 350 degrees Fahrenheit. Lightly spray 4 round cake pans with cooking spray. Beat eggs until foamy, then add oil, vanilla, and sugar and mix well. In a separate bowl, combine flour, baking soda, baking powder, cinnamon, nutmeg, cloves, allspice, and salt. Add shredded carrots. Combine wet ingredients into dry and mix thoroughly. Fold in any nuts or raisins if desired. Pour mixture into cake pans, dividing it evenly, and bake 30–35 minutes or until a toothpick inserted into the middle of the cakes comes out clean.

Let the cakes cool at least 10 minutes before icing. Spread icing evenly over the tops and sides of each cake and assemble.

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