Chef Robert Wysong – The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island and Spiced Soft Shell Crab with Remoulade
Wysong was also our first introduction to Kiawah’s vision to keep everything as “relevant, unique and natural” as it should be. “We are in a Maritime Forest and we want to be in sync with that.” He went on to say that when he was in Naples at The Ritz-Carlton Golf Resort, the property was intentionally heavily manicured and Kiawah’s goal is the reverse.
The same is true in the kitchens of the restaurants he oversees. “We use what we have available. We highlight the fresh vegetables and seafood and the seasonality. We have so much constantly coming out of the ground in Charleston and wonderful local seafood. We focus on that.” The Ocean Room at The Sanctuary, the resort’s premier steakhouse, also serves MiBek Farms beef from Barnwell, S.C., less than 30 miles from the Sanctuary. This farm raises all natural and hormone free beef that is comparable in taste to corn-fed beef as a result of their pasture grazing techniques. The Ocean Room has earned the Forbes 4 Star and AAA 4 Diamond restaurant recognition.
We noticed while touring the property with Chef Wysong that he took the time to personally acknowledge and speak to each person we passed, guest or staff. His leadership team at The Sanctuary is comprised of 16 people and he manages a staff of 120 in the food and beverage department. His personal touch was evident throughout our stay.
“We need to engage personally. We are a five star, five diamond property and there are expectations to be met. There are a few errors that can be forgiven when the service is personalized and exceptional. Kiawah is a blend of an operation that is very successful. We work hard on the finished product.” I have always believed that outstanding service is as much a part of the overall experience as the hotel room, the food or the property. You can walk away feeling good if you have been treated well.
Working for a luxury property on one of the most gorgeous stretches of beach in the country is definitely not a bad gig. “When there are tough days, I’ll go in the kitchen and I’ll say to Ryley (Chef McGillis), remember why we got into this. It was because it was fun. Then I go outside and I look at this (the ocean) and I count my blessings.”
Thank you so much to Chef Wysong for his hospitality during our stay at Kiawah. It was truly a pleasure to meet and work with him. Chef Wysong has two favorite local shellfish that he enjoys preparing. One is clams, in particular, wild littleneck clams. The other is soft shell crabs. Chef Wysong has agreed to share his favorite recipe for soft shell crabs that we enjoyed at The Ocean Room. They are in season, so I hope you are able to find some at your local fishmonger.
For more on soft shell crabs, you might want to refer to our adventure last winter with Kimberley’s Crabs in Charleston, SC. We will also share more about those roasted oysters in a future article.
Disclosure – Kiawah Island Golf Resort provided a media package for our visit. I was not asked to write any articles about my stay and have in no way been compensated. The opinions expressed regarding our experience are my own.
Spiced Soft Shell Crab with Remoulade
1 Tablespoon Old Bay Seasoning
2 teaspoons Sugar
1 teaspoon Ground Coriander
1 teaspoon Salt
1 teaspoon Ground Black Pepper
2 cups Good Mayonnaise
2 Tablespoons Fresh Lemon Juice
2 Tablespoons Sweet Pickle Relish
1 Tablespoon Capers, finely minced
1 Tablespoon Flat Leaf Parsley, washed, minced, some in reserve, whole
1 Tablespoon Worcestershire
1 teaspoon Smoked Paprika
1 teaspoon Tabasco
Salt and Pepper to taste
Four to Six Live Soft Shell Blue Crabs, defaced, lungs removed
Wondra or All Purpose Flour
Salt & Pepper to taste
1 Quart Peanut Oil
Blend all ingredients together.
Blend all ingredients together well, taste carefully.
1. Prepare crabs and dust with seasoned flour. Carefully fry in heated oil, 325F until golden brown. Remove & drain on a paper towel. Season liberally with Seafood Spice mixture.
2. Split in half, arrange attractively with split lemons, and whole flat leaf parsley. Serve with Remoulade sauce served chilled, on the side.
Recipe courtesy of Robert Wysong, CEC
Director of Restaurants & Executive Chef
The Sanctuary at Kiawah Island Golf Resort