Duffy’s new concoctions developing in test kitchen

Posted July 26, 2016 | No Comments.


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Chef Eric Parker, left, and CEO Jason Emmett at Duffy's Culinary Arts Studio in Lake Worth where the restaurant can train its staff and come up with new menu items. User Upload Caption: duffys (Jan Engoren / Forum Publishing Group)

Chef Eric Parker, left, and CEO Jason Emmett at Duffy’s Culinary Arts Studio in Lake Worth where the restaurant can train its staff and come up with new menu items. User Upload Caption: duffys (Jan Engoren / Forum Publishing Group)

Tucked away in a nondescript industrial park off 10th Avenue North in Lake Worth, alongside granite and marble wholesalers, behind sheets of black-out glass, is the cutting-edge culinary art studio for Duffy’s Sports Grill.

The state-of-the-art, 3,000 square-foot test kitchen serves as a research and development space for hands-on culinary training for chefs and managers, as well as a space to put on events for Duffy’s VIP loyalty customers.

“We’re a local, family-owned restaurant, so it’s important for us to get our message out fast,” said Jason Emmett, the 36-year-old president of the company, who took over for his father, Paul Emmett, who died last year.

“It’s a way for us to keep our consistency and quality high, so our diners can have the same experience in Tampa as they do in Boynton Beach,” he said.

“We want to stay relevant and be on the cutting edge,” said the New York native, who is opening his newest Florida location in Kendall this fall.

Despite its name as a sports grill, Emmett emphasizes that the restaurant is family friendly, putting on children’s nights and balloon artists, and while sports are a part of the atmosphere and decor, they are not the whole part.

“First and foremost, we are a family-focused restaurant that features sports,” he said.

The facility is equipped with a full kitchen, pizza and convection ovens, fryers, grills and a bar area – everything a regular Duffy’s would have at one-third the scale.

Cameras are installed overhead for training purposes at one of their other 32 locations throughout Florida.

Training manager Carl Berry is excited to have use of the facility to train managers from other locations throughout the state.

“We can have 45 or 50 people here, role play in an actual dining room setting and have a real live hands-on training session,” he said. “It’s something we haven’t been able to do in the past.”

“One of the largest impacts for us is to have the ability to film the execution of food and alcohol creations and load that into our e-training courses for other staff,” Berry said.

Chef Eric Parker, who has been with the company 20 years, is in charge of creating the menu.

Having just returned from the Aspen Food and Wine Festival, he is bringing new menu ideas – from sourcing wine from vineyards in California, to incorporating fresh fish ideas including their newly popular ahi tuna poke bowl, made with sushi grade yellowfin tuna, cilantro lime rice, avocado, scallions and toasted sesame seeds ($14.99).

According to Parker, the trend is toward fresh, simple foods or vegetables, gluten- free items and locally sourced, without sacrificing quality.

“I read a lot of cookbooks and stay current with the latest trends,” said Parker, who admits he is a meat-and-potatoes guy.

His other chef specialties include a 12-ounce prime New York strip steak ($21.99), which he favorably compares to those served at the highest end steak houses, crispy clam strips ($13.99) and lobster ravioli stuffed with Maine lobster ($16.99).

To honor Paul Emmett, the restaurant recently founded the Duffy’s Foundation as of way of keeping his spirit of giving alive, according to Jason Emmett.

The company also participates in Change for Charity, which has raised $35,000 over the past three months, thanks to customers rounding their check up to the nearest dollar amount.

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