7960915277?profile=originalThe patio at Jewell Beach, in the Ambassador Hotel, will offer sunset views. Photo provided

Update: Jewell Bistro will not be moving into the Ambassador. Dak
Kerprich said an agreement could not be reached with the owner. As of
now, he'll keep Jewell Bistro at its Dixie Highway location. Our story
reflects information we were given and confirmed at presstime.

By Jan Norris

Big news for fans of Dak Kerprich, the chef who originally made his chops with South County diners at Pizzeria Oceano in Lantana.
The owner of Jewell Bistro on Dixie Highway in Lake Worth Beach plans to move across the bridge.


Jewell Beach is taking over Sergio’s in the Ambassador Hotel, a Palm Beach co-op that will become a boutique hotel under the ownership of the Richard Schlesinger family.


At Schlesinger’s request at the end of December, Kerprich is setting up a deal that puts him in as the operator of the 150-seat restaurant with patio space and a full bar. Marsha Kerprich, his wife and business partner, will handle the front of house as well as pastries.


Upgrades are planned, as the main oceanfront hotel was built in 1947, with buildings added in the 1960s.


The new owners are making cosmetic changes for this season: “painting, new furniture, things like that,” Kerprich said. New ceilings and floors have been installed. A major renovation is planned for the following year, he said.


7960915494?profile=originalThe restaurant faces west. “It’s big and bright, and overlooks the pool. We’ll have tables outside on the patio. The sunsets are spectacular,” Kerprich said.


The kitchen is hotel-sized and a big change from the barely 80-square-foot one he leaves behind at the Dixie Highway restaurant.
Along with favorites from the small, daily bistro menu, a few items will be added for the lunch and dinner service. It will remain a manageable list, however, with fresh local products and fish as the backbone.


“It’s still all about the seafood,” Kerprich said. The oceanfront location makes it that much more relevant, he said. “The burger will be the only red meat. No other red meat — seafood and vegetables will be the main focus,” he said. “Light and casual.”


A grab-and-go or continental breakfast will be offered featuring Marsha’s pastries.


A Sunday brunch set around the pool is planned once the place is up and running. Restaurant guests will be able to use the pool as well.


Live music, bingo and other activities are being discussed as part of the Sunday brunch, making it a party-like setting.


“We’ll be modern casual. We don’t want to be as formal or stuffy as some of my other neighbors,” Kerprich said.


Those neighbors include The Four Seasons Palm Beach, and Tideline, a hotel formerly known as the Omphoy, and owned by the Schlesinger family.


Jewell Beach at the Ambassador, 2730 S. Ocean Blvd., Palm Beach.


7960915675?profile=originalMichael Salmon grills chicken, the centerpiece of his Flybird restaurant menu in Delray Beach. Photo provided

The latest celeb chef to open in South County is Michael Salmon, a former finalist on the Food Network’s “The Next Food Network Star” and “24 Hour Restaurant Challenge.”


His Flybird on Linton in Delray Beach is drawing attention for its simple menu centered on char-grilled chicken and flavorful side dishes.


Salmon has cheffed for then-Mayor Ed Koch in New York and led the kitchen at Mickey Mantle’s — a former sports bar near Central Park once a watering hole for the Yankee and his buddies.


His talents got him to the finals on Food Network contests that produced other stars such as the Hearty Boys Dan Smith and Steve McDonaugh, Guy Fieri and Jason Smith.


Salmon is living in Delray Beach. He opened the chicken takeout in May with the thought of making a chef-created meal to respond to an “I don’t want to cook tonight” demand. With an average meal around $15.95, it’s not fast food, but fast-casual and chef-created.


Everything from Mexican Vacation Soup (chicken, hominy, poblanos, jalapeños, cilantro and tomatillos) to desserts (chocolate pecan tart, or sugar-gluten-dairy free mango-tapioca pudding) are made in house.


On the menu front and center are the chickens, dry-brined to keep the meat moist and flavor infused, then cooked to a char over a wood-fired grill. The birds start out as vegan-fed, with no preservatives, hormones or other additives. They’re available as a quarter-, half- or whole-bird meal.


More chicken: Crispy — fried served on a potato bun; in a pie — char-grilled pulled chicken with mac ’n’ cheese, gravy, hot sauce and crowned with his lofty, buttery mashed potatoes; on a salad — char-grilled on either Greek or Caesar.


Flatbread made in-house is served as a side, and with encouragement, maybe he’ll turn it into a dish of its own — diners rave about it singly in reviews.


Sides are taken to that hands-on-chef level: house crispy fried potato chips, those mashed potatoes with gravy, coleslaw, char-grilled vegetables, roasted beets with lemon and dill, green beans dressed with soy, garlic and chili, and roasted wild mushrooms with herbs.
Salmon, whom you can find behind the line stoking the grill, has a mantra emblazoned on his website and spelled out on the shop’s uniform T-shirts: “Just feed me.”


According to lore, it stems from his college days when he was the DC — designated cook — for friends. It always seemed to be the answer to his question, “What do you want to eat?”


Now, he’s doing just that for the public.


Flybird, 335 E. Linton Blvd., Delray Beach. 243-1111; www.flybirdfood.com. Open Monday-Saturday, 11 a.m. to 9 p.m.; closed Sunday.

In brief: A new “restaurant-driven complex” at the corner of Butts and Town Center roads in Boca Raton is planned. A call for upscale Mexican, American, Italian and sushi restaurants was issued by the developers. Spaces are large: four 5,000-square-foot spaces plus patios are available. …


A new chef is in place at 3rd and 3rd in Delray Beach. Emerson Frisbie, most recently of West Palm Beach’s Butcher Shop, will be taking over the stoves at the bar and grill. …


In Boca Raton, the former Tilted Kilt for a brief time was replaced by Sammy J’s Kitchen and Cocktails, a 180-turn from the “breastraunt” chain format. The more family-friendly and upscale sports-themed restaurant closed abruptly Dec. 23. In an interview before the closing, owners Samir Changela and Jason Levine hinted there would be other Sammy J’s; stay tuned. ...


Boca Bacchanal 2020’s schedule has been announced, and tickets are on sale. Events are slated each month leading up to the main events March 6 and 7. Visit www.bocabacchanal.com for info and tickets. …


Owners of Farmer’s Table, a “clean and green food” themed restaurant in Boca’s Weston Hotel, opened a second one in the rebuilt North Palm Beach Country Club. It debuted in December. Others, we’re told, are in the planning stages.

Jan Norris is a food writer who can be reached at nativefla@gmail.com

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