To celebrate the success of these local businesses, let’s break down every dish Fieri has eaten on national television, from how it’s prepared to what the mayor of Flavortown has to say about it.
Once again, Guy Fieri dined at two Daytona Beach-area restaurants during his hit show “Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives” last Friday.
Millie’s Restaurant in Daytona Beach Shores and Arepita Beach in Daytona Beach were both featured on “Triple D” and Fieri sampled two dishes from each restaurant.
To celebrate the success of these local businesses, let’s break down every dish Fieri ate from how it’s prepared to what the mayor of Flavortown had to say about it.
Warning: Do not read this article hungry*
Timeline: Guy Fieri visits Daytona Beach area for ‘Diners, Drive-Ins and Dives’
Millie’s Restaurant at Daytona Beach Shores
“Local seafood gem”, called Fieri Millie’s.
Starting with a not-so-common dish, owner Chris Chibbaro begins making fish necklaces with a fresh local catch by breaking down black grouper using his past experience as a boat captain and fisherman.
Served thin, the fish is coated in oil and put directly on the grill for about eight minutes. While cooking, Chibbaro combines the ingredients of my favorite sauce, chimichurri, with ingredients of onions, olive oil, red pepper flakes, red wine vinegar, garlic, thyme, oregano, coriander and parsley.
After the eight minutes are up, the fish necklaces are coated with the delicious green sauce and placed in the oven for 15 minutes.
Plated with tortillas and lime, this dish is perfect for sharing.
“It’s just super tasty,” Fieri said. “It’s just that there’s dynamite.”
When you have fresh fish, few ingredients are needed to enhance seafood, and that is well represented here with Millie’s fish necklaces.
Fieri had to ask where Millie’s name came from, and Chris Chibbaro’s wife Amy explained how they named their dog Millie after meeting a woman in their bowling league who they befriended and the restaurant was later named after the dog.
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Starting with the dry seasoning consisting of brown sugar, chili powder, garlic powder, onion powder, cinnamon (a surprising spice added), smoked paprika, salt and pepper, the ribs are cut, seasoned and allowed to sit for an hour before entering the smoker for 40 minutes.
While it’s smoking, Chibbaro starts making his homemade barbecue sauce. In the skillet is oil, onions, spiced rum (something I’ll have to try), garlic, ketchup, brown sugar, apple cider vinegar, and molasses. Dry seasonings include paprika, cayenne pepper, salt, onion powder, and coriander (cilantro seed). Chibbaro lets it cook for about 25 minutes, then coats the ribs in the sauce once they come out of the smoker.
Finally, the smoked ribs are placed on the grill for about five minutes to achieve that char-like texture. The ribs are served on Texan toast and topped with sliced fresh jalapeños, green onions and barbecue sauce. It was the first time Fieri had ribs, and I think it’s safe to say he loved them.
“It’s probably one of the best ways I’ve ever had an alligator, if not the best,” Fieri said.
Fieri compliments how tender the ribs are but is very impressed with the BBQ sauce, saying “I’m in the BBQ, I’m the BBQ hall of fame, this BBQ is delicious.”
“If someone says they don’t like the gator, send them to Millie and ask them to try,” Fieri said.
Arepita Beach in Daytona Beach
“Perfect for the beach,” Fieri said.
Owner Cesar Altamar starts the beef patacón (fried plantain) dish by adding the meat to hot water with peppers, onions and salt, which cooks for two hours.
After the beef is cooked, it is shredded and added to a pot with oil, onion, green peppers, bell peppers and tomatoes. Next, salt, cumin, pepper, sazon (a seasoning mix that also translates to “seasonings” in Spanish), soy sauce (a surprisingly common ingredient in Venezuelan cuisine), garlic and cooked beef broth are added. It cooks for about ten minutes.
Then mayonnaise, onions, cilantro, water, oil, salt, mustard and lots of garlic mix together to create the garlic sauce (a sauce I will now use on all my sandwiches).
Once the sauce is prepared, the sweet plantains, patacón, are prepared. Altamar cut the plantains into two pieces and fry them. They are then flattened with a tortilla press and returned to the fryer until golden brown.
Assembly of the sandwich-like dish begins with a plantain topped with garlic sauce, shredded beef, cabbage, more garlic sauce, sliced tomatoes, ham, shredded Venezuelan cheese ( similar to mozzarella with a bit more acidity), a large slice of soft Venezuelan cheese and finally ends with another fried plantain on top.
This large dish is definitely big enough to share with the whole table.
After Fieri’s first bite, he said “I’ve had a lot of unique foods; there’s nothing that will prepare you for this.”
He explains how the first initial taste of the sweet plantain is paired with the rich, creamy cheese that’s complemented by the slightly acidic beef and tangy garlic sauce “it sings all the way through,” Fieri said.
“It’s a huge dish, but delicious,” added Fieri.
Queen Pepiada Arepa
Altamar may have had no prior knowledge of catering before Arepita, but thanks to his family’s favorite pastime, cooking, and the lack of authentic Venezuelan cuisine in the region, the idea of opening a shop for serving the tradition of their culture seemed obvious.
Reina pepiada arepa, a dish similar to chicken salad, begins with arepa (bread).
Pre-cooked cornmeal, water and salt are added in a bowl and mixed by hand. Once fully incorporated, Altamar creates small balls of dough and flattens them with the tortilla press. Once the dough is in its ideal shape, it is placed directly on the flat grill.
Fieri explained how he would achieve a crispy exterior, but the steam will cook the masa (batter) all the way through leaving the interior tender.
Then the chicken is cooked like beef in hot water, with onions and salt. The cooked meat is then shredded and avocado, mayonnaise, mustard, cilantro, garlic and onions are added. The mixture is finished with salt, pepper, olive oil, and adobo seasoning (a spice blend).
The chicken salad is then stuffed into the arepa and ready to eat. Fieri enjoys the creamy, silky avocado and the tender but crunchy arepa.
“Hot arpa, fresh chicken salad,” Fieri explained. “Nice contrast between the two of them. Great job.”
Arepita Beach is the perfect example of how Venezuelan culture uses simple cooking techniques with bold ingredients to create mouth-watering cuisine.
Caroline Hebert is the food and dining editor for The Daytona Beach News-Journal. Originally from New Orleans and passionate about food, she can be reached at [email protected] Follow her on Instagram, Facebook and Twitter. Support local journalism by subscribing.