“We’re bringing worlds together.”
Smoked conch dip with seasonal vegetables, assorted crackers, and datil pepper hot sauce; alligator rib gumbo: smoked and braised Cypress Creek Farm alligator ribs with okra, tomatoes, sassafras, garlic rice, and scallions; smoked brisket, with black bean crumble, watermelon radish, and cornbread crumble.
Of Gilbert’s four restaurant properties, three are in Jacksonville Beach. He bet big on the coastal community to spread the word on Southern cuisine – his take on the food he grew up eating; inspired by global travels, culinary training, and an urge to expand what it means to cook food from this region. He’s fond of Congaree + Penn, an independent rice farm just outside of the city, and Eddie Chaser Seafood, where he sources whole shrimp. Atlantic Farm’s hydroponic setup gives Gilbert scarlet mustard greens he can’t stop talking about.
But part of being all-in in a place is seeing where you can make a difference. Gilbert has made a point to hire employees in transition, decent people who are rebounding from hard times, and perhaps some poor choices. He prioritizes training and development because he wants to promote from within, to offer people a career if they want it. His outlook reaps unexpected benefits. A recent hire had worked under a chef that Gilbert trained a while back. “It was like the guy had already worked for me”.