Established Restaurants Give Birth to New Talent

On-the-job training and creative ambition mix well.

Established restaurants give birth to ambitious, new talent. Mike Clampitt, who has worked at Blue Moon, Tijuana Taxi and the old Seahorse Restaurant, recently purchased Po’ Boys Creole & Fresh Catch in Milton.

Lion Gardner is another good example. As a recent high school graduate in 1997, he went to work with Stitt in the Eden kitchen, eventually rising to executive chef. In 2006, he and wife Meghan, with partners Tim Ragan and Randy Haney, bought the Blue Moon.

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Like Gardner, Joe Churchman honed his skills before he and his wife, Megan, opened the much acclaimed The Bramble & Brine on Rehoboth Avenue last fall. Churchman worked as the opening chef at Luca in Millsboro—now closed—and he’s also cooked at JAM Bistro and Planet X. 

Nage, now celebrating its 10th anniversary, is a hotbed for culinary creativity. James Beard nominee Hari Cameron started at Nage as a prep cook. In 2013 he opened his own restaurant, the wildly creative a(MUSE.) on Baltimore Avenue.

Since Ted Deptula’s departure from Nage for the Lewes Yacht Club in the spring, Paul Gallo now heads the kitchen. “At Nage, we look for food-passionate culinary staff that want to be able to create dishes for our chef-driven menu,” says Josh Grapski, who became sole owner when Reading took the helm at Abbott’s Grill in Milford. “We like when people come up through the ranks. We call it ‘Boot Camp Nage.’”

Andrew Feeley, executive chef at Eden, was once a sous chef at Nage. “Kevin said to me when he hired me that we like to think that we are the farm system that gets the guys to the major leagues,” Feeley says

Born in Ocean City, Md., Shane Kellagher cut his teeth in Florida, Colorado, southern California and New Orleans before returning to the area in 2007 and working at the Pickled Pig Pub on Del 1. When frequent customer Tia Sexton decided to open 14 Global in Bethany Beach, she asked Kellagher to be the executive chef at the restaurant, where you might spot kangaroo, skate and octopus on the eclectic menu.

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