Chef Irv Miller serves up more than recipes in his new book “Panhandle to Pan.”
In his first cookbook, the East Coast transplant takes on the task of painting a picture of the region of Florida that stretches from Pensacola to Cedar Key and uses regional cuisine to segue into local legends, environmental issues and the biographies of everyday Floridians.
The book opens with a section on regional history and a timeline featuring culinary milestones.
From “A Gathering of Appetizers” to “Confectionaries,” the 13nth and final chapter of the book, Miller discusses preparation of regional specialties found on Florida’s ForgottenCoast.
Intermeshed with local favorites like “Raw Oysters with Ed’s Red” and “Smoked Mullet Dip,” are variations on classic cuisine including “Char-Grilled Clams Casino” and “Seafood Paella.” Many recipes also display Asian fusion elements. “Lionfish Sashimi with Soy Ginger Syrup” and “Oysters in Ginger Broth with Thai Chiles” tempt even the most adventurous pallet.
The recipes are short and straightforward with easily obtainable ingredients. There is a special chapter devoted to oysters and to the ongoing environmental degradation of ApalachicolaBay.
This versatile cookbook is not limited to the fruits of the Gulf of Mexico and its estuaries. It also features local vegetables and fruits; a score of unusual barbeque recipes; a section on breads and even a chapter devoted to a “GulfCoast Thanksgiving.”
“Panhandle to Pan” is lavishly illustrated and the storytelling tucked in between the cooking techniques is engaging and as palatable as Miller’s cookery. You may see some familiar faces too.
Chef Miller will be in town as the guest host for “Outstanding in the Field, an open-air feast in celebration of the farmer and the gifts of the land.” A group of happy foodies will gather for the evening to sample Miller’s interpretation of a number of local delicacies. The dinner table will be set at 13 Mile Seafood, 3022 C-30, Apalachicola, on Saturday, Feb. 6. The event is sold out.
“Panhandle to Pan” will be available at the “Outstanding in the Field” event, and at Downtown Books.
Miller is the founding executive chef at Jackson’s Steakhouse in Pensacola.
He wrote the weekly food column for Pensacola's Independent News for two years and hosted the PBS show Flavors of the Coast. He is a contributor to the Chef's Corner column in the Pensacola News Journal.
He appeared on Emeril's Florida television episode Viva Florida. He has been a five-time performing chef for the James Beard Foundation, and has served three years as a founding member of the Pensacola Celebrity Chefs.
Miller was selected to represent the state of Florida in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off 2012.