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Food Ventures

Reflections and Recipes by Fishing Chefs

By Ann Hattes
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The voices and photographs of passionate fishermen, guides, chefs and guests, capture the heart and soul of these retreats and the memories and traditions that make each so special.

Reel Masters: Chefs Casting About with Timing & Grace (Susan Schadt Press) features eight award-winning chefs as they journey to their favorite fishing spots and share cherished moments and recipes. Chefs Jeremiah Bacon, John Besh, Walter Bundy, John Currence, Kelly English, Chris Hastings, Donald Link and Kevin Willman take readers fishing in the bayous, backwaters and bays and along the coastlines of the sporting South of the U.S. from South Carolina and Virginia, to Florida and Louisiana. The voices and photographs of passionate fishermen, guides, chefs and guests, capture the heart and soul of these retreats and the memories and traditions that make each so special.

The collection of 42 recipes includes dishes such as Bacon's Grilled Red Drum with Sauce Gribiche; Link's Fried Bass; Trout Tacos by Currence; Bundy's Chesapeake Bay Oyster Stew with Mascarpone Grits Forest Mushrooms and Black Pepper Demi-Glace; Willman's Smoked Pensacola Mullet. Also First-of-the-Season Strawberry Shortcakes with Honeysuckle Crème Fraiche by Hastings; Grilled NY Strip with Poached Farm Egg, Parmigiano-Reggiano, and Truffle Oil, also by Hastings; Bundy's Fermented Hot Sauce; and Stuffed Artichokes or Pickled Shrimp by John Besh, who has several restaurants in New Orleans and hosted two national public television shows based on his books. Also try the Smoked Trout Dip by John Currence of Oxford, Mississippi, executive chef and owner of City Grocery and City Restaurant Group; and Crusty Cornbread by Donald Link with restaurants Herbsaint and Peche Seafood Grill in New Orleans.


Pickled Shrimp

Recipe first published in My Family Table by Besh, Andrews McMeel Publishing 2011).

Serves 10.

Besh mixes up his vegetables with the shrimp, using whatever's fresh and local. He likes to add cauliflower, carrots, daikon, beans, onions, militon, and/or okra.


For the brine:

2 cups rice wine vinegar

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

Zest and juice of 1 orange

1/2 cup sugar

5 garlic cloves, thinly sliced

1 tablespoon coriander seeds

1 tablespoon mustard seeds

1 tablespoon peppercorns

1 tablespoon red chili flakes

2 bay leaves

Pinch of kosher salt

Combine all the ingredients in a large saucepan. Add 2 & 1/2 cups water and bring to a boil. Remove from the heat and allow to cool slightly.


For the shrimp:

12 baby carrots

12 baby beans

12 pearl onions, peeled

12 okra pods

2 pounds boiled wild American shrimp, peeled and deveined

Pack all the vegetables and shrimp into a very large glass jar, alternating layers. Pour the hot brine into the jar to cover. Cover the jar and let cool. Refrigerate overnight. Serve right from the jar when you are ready.


Smoked Trout Dip

(Courtesy of Susan Schadt Press). Serves 6 to 8.

1/3 cup sour cream

1/3 cup mayonnaise

1 & 1/2 tablespoons Dijon mustard

1 tablespoon prepared horseradish

2 tablespoons chopped fresh chives

Zest and juice of 1 lemon

1 teaspoon Old Bay Seasoning

1/4 cup grated yellow onion

1 pound smoked trout, flaked into small pieces

Kosher salt and freshly ground pepper


In a large bowl, stir together the sour cream, mayonnaise, mustard, horseradish, chives, lemon zest and juice, Old Bay Seasoning, and the onion until well blended. Add the flaked trout and stir until well combined. Season with salt, pepper, and Tabasco to taste.


Crusty Cornbread

(Courtesy of Susan Schadt Press). Serves 6 - 8.

According to Link, this cornbread has a dense and crusty texture and holds its shape under smothered greens, stewed beans,..basically anything with a fragrant broth. For the best and crispiest results, pour the batter into a hot cast-iron skillet. In a pinch you can use a baking pan, but cast-iron always creates the best crust. He runs a stick of butter over the hot cornbread when it comes out of the oven (allowing about 2 tablespoons of it to melt) for added flavor.

2 cups all-purpose flour

2 cups white cornmeal

2 tablespoons sugar

2 teaspoons baking powder

1 tablespoon Kosher salt

1/2 teaspoon freshly ground black pepper

1 cup well-shaken buttermilk

1 & 1/2 cups milk

1 large egg

6 tablespoons butter, melted

1 tablespoon rendered bacon fat, or butter, shortening, or vegetable oil


Preheat the oven to 400 degrees F.

Place a 12-inch cast-iron skillet in the oven and heat for at least 30 minutes.

Whisk together the flour, cornmeal, sugar, baking powder, salt, and pepper in a large bowl. In a separate medium bowl, whisk together the buttermilk, milk, egg, and the 6 tablespoons melted butter.

Make a well in the center of the dry ingredients and pour the wet ingredients into the well. Use a fork or rubber spatula to stir together until evenly combined.

Remove the skillet from oven, add the bacon fat to the skillet, and swirl to coat. Pour the batter evenly, and bake for 25 to 35 minutes, until lightly golden and firm and springy to the touch. Serve immediately or cool the cornbread in the skillet and serve at room temperature.


Ann Hattes has over 25 years experience writing about both travel and food for publications both in the US and internationally. A senior living in Wisconsin, she’s a member of the International Food, Wine and Travel Writers Association and the Midwest Travel Writers Association.

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