Chef’s Corner with Garey Hiles of Oceanaire
The Oceanaire Seafood Room in Orlando, Florida sends guests on a magnificent cruise to the roaring 20’s. Serving only the freshest seafood (fish is flown in daily), Chef Garey Hiles is the culinary mastermind behind the flavors and ingredients at this remarkable establishment.
An Ohio native raised in Tennessee, Hiles was formally trained at Disney’s Culinary Academy in Orlando. Chef Scott Hunnel served as his mentor at the well-known Victoria & Alberts, Central Florida’s only AAA Five-Diamond and Mobil Four-Star Restaurant.
In 2004, Hiles packed his bags and headed to the Virgin island of St. Croix where he served as the Executive Chef of Divi Carina Bay Beach Resort & Casino. In 2007, Hiles returned to Orlando to pursue his career as the Executive Chef of the Oceanaire Seafood Room, where he continues to blend his Southern cooking styles with the worldly techniques he acquired through his travels.
journeyPod had a chance to chat with this culinary genius:
How did you get your start in cooking?
I had a bad week and decided to change the way I was living.
Have you traveled anywhere that has influenced your flavors and recipes?
I pick up new ideas everywhere I travel. That’s what we chefs love about our profession, no matter where we go we can always find something new to try.
If you were ever on Iron Chef, what ingredient would you hope would be the themed ingredient for the cooking battle?
Duck or any type of game bird
What’s an upcoming trend in cooking?
Smaller portions, protecting the resources we have for future generations
What’s your favorite indulgence food?
You cook a lot of seafood – what is your favorite fish to cook?
Do your friends call you for cooking advice?
All my friends know how to cook
What type of music do you like to listen to while cooking?
Blues, Jerry Garcia
On your night off, where do you go to eat in Orlando?
Somewhere within walking distance, downtown
It’s 2 a.m. … you’re leaving work, where do you head for a cocktail or a bite to eat?
Home – its 2 a.m!
Best advice you can give to a cooking enthusiast?
Have fun, don’t take yourself so seriously, and most important have friends to do it with.
Upon entering the Oceanaire Seafood Room one cannot help feeling as though time travel has taken place through the seas and into a cruise ship martini bar of the roaring 20’s. Pull out the long pearls and tailcoats and get ready for a night you won’t soon forget. Electric blue and white accents highlight the restaurant and lifelike sculptures of fish adorn the walls. The saying “Fresh off the boat” should have been written for Oceanaire, as everything is flown in daily. When fish runs out – it’s out- no frozen substitutes takes its place.
The service is nothing short of superior and the staff truly seems to enjoy being there. Chef Garey Hiles impresses his hungry patrons with dishes like the Chesapeake Bay Jumbo Lump Crab Cake (tip: get your own – they are too good to share) and the Grilled Alaskan Sockeye Salmon with Goat Cheese Gnocci. If you’re in luck and in season ask for the rare Alaskan Wild Ivory Salmon – simply heaven! Not sure what wine or cocktail to pair your entree with? Don’t fret, the server has done this before and knows what to bring out to balance your meal. Finish your evening with a sweet treat and opt for the Baked Alaska (no, its not fish). Food connoisseurs be aware – one night at Oceanaire may easily turn into your new favorite dining spot! Oceanaire is located at 9101 International Drive.
Stay tuned for our Orlando round-up article!