In the kitchen with… Eric Parker
Posted January 10, 2017 | No Comments.
Corporate Chef Eric Parker, who has been with the business for 20 years, heads Duffy’s Sports Grill culinary team. The Boynton Beach cook created every item on Duffy’s menu.
Of course, the menu has expanded substantially since the original Duffy’s Drafthouse opened in Lake Park in 1985. Then there were only four items: grilled mahi sandwich, hot ham and cheese, smoked sausage and a quarter-pound cheeseburger. All were served with potato chips so there was no need for a fryer. The sports bar had a reputation for having the best burger in town and the coldest beer.
Today, Duffy’s boasts about having the best wings, too, and Chef Parker says the oven-braised barbecue baby back ribs remain a bestseller. For an appetizer, customers are keen on lobster tacos with Panko-crusted Maine lobster tail, shredded cabbage, homemade pico de gallo and cilantro cream sauce.
“Our mussels are fresh every day,” said Chef Parker, an Ohio native who moved to the Sunshine State to study at the Florida Culinary Institute. He recently won a national contest sponsored by Heinz that led to Duffy’s first appearance at the South Beach Food and Wine Festival to show off its award-winning burger.
While there are good cooks in his family (grandmother, mother and uncle), Chef Parker’s interest in the culinary arts really began when his parents took the family out to eat on Saturday nights when he was in high school.
“I loved the food, the ambiance, the dark wood and leather seats in high end restaurants,” he said. “I remember waiters bringing butter to the table in a dish with a candle under it to keep it melted for the lobster,” he said. Those kinds of details impressed him.
Chef Parker enjoys testing new recipes in Duffy’s new culinary arts studio near the company’s headquarters on Barnett Road in Lake Worth. He trains new chefs there, as well. Sons Aiden, 7, and Dylan, 5, like coming to the test kitchen with their dad, too.
“They love to help,” he said. “At home, we make banana bread together and cookies. When he cooks at home, he often uses a crock-pot.
“I put in a pork roast or brisket and we go off to church and baseball and when we come home it’s ready,” he said.
Chef Parker says his wife, Christiana, is a good cook, too. Her parents are from Puerto Rico, so they enjoy a lot of Latin dishes.
If he had to choose a menu for his last supper, he said, it would be comfort food. “Short ribs, mashed potatoes and collard greens.” Eric Parker Age: 48
Original hometown: Youngstown, Ohio
Restaurant: Duffy’s Sports Grills. There are 34 restaurants from Orlando and Tampa south to Kendall, including several in Palm Beach County with headquarters on Barnett Road in Lake Worth. Call 585-6685 or visit www.duffysmvp.com.
Mission: We will be the best casual dining, sports-themed concept in America by creating passionately loyal MVPs, one guest at a time. Cuisine: American
Training: Florida Culinary Institute, American Culinary Foundation’s Certified Executive Chef Accreditation
What’s your footwear of choice in the kitchen? Mozo
What advice would you give someone who wants to be a restaurateur or chef? It’s not all the glitz and glamour you see on television; however, if you put in the effort to hone your skills and work hard, it can be a very rewarding.