Chef Paul Stellato to Cook for Team USA
As Team USA athletes compete in the 2012 Summer Olympics, Firefly restaurant’s esteemed chef will be making sure the all-star athletes are well fed and experiencing a taste of home. Paul Stellato, executive chef at the acclaimed Panama City Beach eatery, will join Team USA across the pond through the BP-sponsored “Spirit of the Gulf” program, which aims to bring the Gulf Coast’s unique culture to Team USA’s athletes, their families and visitors to the Olympic games by featuring the freshest seafood and finest music the region has to offer.
“We couldn’t be more proud of Paul for being a part of this once-in-a-lifetime opportu-nity,” said Firefly owner Dave Trepanier. “He is one-of-a-kind, and it’s great that he will be using his talents to prepare meals for our nation’s best athletes. The Gulf Coast is cheering extra hard for Team USA this year.”
Chef Paul will use his culinary expertise, along with seven other chefs from Florida, Ala-bama, Mississippi and Louisiana, to prepare meals during an Olympic luncheon August 9th, and for a dinner during the closing ceremonies. An acclaimed Firefly house recipe is on the menu for Team USA: sauteed Gulf grouper with fresh corn, grape tomatoes and shallots, topped with a Sherry cream and jumbo lump crab sauce. “I submitted a few recipes for consideration, and the selection committee was instantly drawn to the fresh, local seafood dish,” Stellato said. “It’s a huge favorite on the Firefly menu.”
So what does it take to be a chef for America’s Olympic athletes? Judging from Stellato’s extensive resume, natural ability mixed with a hefty amount of passion. Originally from New Haven, Connecticut, Stellato moved to Northwest Florida and began working in a restaurant at the early age of 13. Stellato continued his culinary endeavors, eventually working his way to the executive chef position at Canopies in Panama City Beach. He began work at Firefly in 2007, infusing his “French Floridian” style of cuisine into the menu, and has since been published in Bon Appétit and Gourmet magazines. His culinary repertoire has even served many presidential and celebrity guests visiting the area, in-cluding President Obama.
“I’m most looking forward to traveling overseas and, of course, meeting the athletes,” Stellato said. “I’ve never been out of the country before, and for an opportunity like this, it’s very exciting!” Three bands from the Gulf Coast will also be attending the Olympics in London along with the culinary masters to increase world awareness of the unique food and culture of the area region.
“We hope the positive energy from the fans in the Gulf Coast and these award-winning chefs will help Team USA perform at its peak,” Trepanier said, “all while promoting tourism to our area in the wake of the 2010 oil spill.”
Firefly is a family-friendly Mediterranean-style bistro, nationally known for its fresh sea-food and sushi, succulent entrées, homemade pasta and pizzas, as well as its extensive wine list and martini menu. The restaurant has been ranked in Urbanspoon’s list of America’s 250 Most Popular High-End Restaurants and in the Best Fine Dining category by TripAdvisor. Firefly has also been the recipient of Florida Trend’s Golden Spoon Award and Wine Spectator’s Best of Award of Excellence and made Panama City Living’s Bay List (chosen by readers) in numerous categories.
To reserve a table at Firefly or for more information, please call 850.249.FFLY (3359) or visit www.fireflypcb.com. For more information about BP’s commitment to fueling Team USA and the London 2012 Olympic Games, visit www.teamusa.org.