Q&A: Peter Olsacher, Bahama Breeze

Guests at Darden Restaurants-owned Bahama Breeze have the opportunity to savor all the flavors of the Caribbean, with a focus on island-inspired seafood dishes. The 31-unit chain’s Bahama-inspired atmosphere and extensive menu (with tiered pricing levels) is paying off — revenue for Bahama Breeze increased 2.8 percent in Darden’s recent fiscal fourth quarter, while revenue at Darden’s Red Lobster chain dropped 3.9 percent.

SeafoodSource recently talked to Peter Olsacher, executive chef of Bahama Breeze, about the chain’s keys to success and about being innovative with its seafood dishes.

Blank: What does Bahama Breeze do well with seafood entrée development that helps maintain a loyal following? 

Olsacher: We try to stay true to our roots with Caribbean-inspired food, along with dishes that are more broadly appealing. We have a wonderful selection of fresh, delicious seafood, like Lobster & Shrimp Linguini, Seafood Paella, Key West Fish Tacos and a daily selection of fresh fish choices. Of course, we also have distinctive chicken dishes and flame-grilled steaks.

What new seafood menu items have you added this summer? 

This summer, Bahama Breeze is offering a special menu item — Grilled Tiger Shrimp with Salmon. We are constantly adding new items to the menu. In addition to the daily fresh fish offerings, we just recently added a “snacks and small plates” menu that changes frequently and offers outstanding value and variety. It includes seafood items as well as chicken and pork offerings.

What is Bahama Breeze’s philosophy on preparing seafood dishes? 

Our philosophy is to have a variety of different preparations and a variety of different ingredients to offer our guests. Our daily fresh fish menu, for instance, offers our guests their choice of three different species of sustainably harvested fish that can be prepared in many different ways, including jerk-painted, simply grilled, almond crusted or pan seared. At Bahama Breeze, we have some of the best and freshest seafood available, so we want that to be the star of the plate. We don’t over spice or over sauce our seafood, but let the natural flavors shine.

What is your company’s philosophy on sourcing sustainable seafood? What about sourcing farmed versus wild products? 

Darden is widely recognized by industry NGOs, governments and scientists as a leader in sustainability and a company that will stand up and do what is right and responsible. We use a combination of wild-caught and farmed seafood. All of our wild-caught products come from sustainable fisheries, and we’ve led the industry in developing and utilizing responsible aquaculture to relieve pressure on high-demand fisheries such as shrimp.


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