The Stoned Crab, Three Hands Fish, and Key West Legal Rum partner to create “Chef Distilled” and “The Three Hands Experience” packages to be offered beginning in the Fall of 2016.
Taking a stand against the increasingly homogenized American tourist experience, three local Key West businesses are banding together to offer two new ‘eco-foodie’ experiences that celebrate the locally-sourced seafood and organically-distilled rum that makes Key West a budding culinary capital of America. Beginning this fall, Key West Legal Rum, The Stoned Crab restaurant, and the Three Hands Fish market will offer locals and visitors alike Chef Distilled and The Three Hands Experience.
“Tourist destinations across the country are often threatened by mega-chain hotels, restaurants, and grocery stores, because they have the unintended effect of wiping away so much of what makes a community unique,” stated Paul Menta, co-owner of Key West Legal Rum and Executive Chef at The Stoned Crab. “While Key West has held its ground admirably against this trend, Chef Distilled and The Three Hands Experience truly represent the culinary spirit, authenticity, and self-confidence that make Key West the destination that captured my heart nearly thirty years ago when I first arrived here by way of Philly.”
Named after Menta’s philosophy that each bottle of rum be distilled with the same care and precision as a dish served at his acclaimed The Stoned Crab restaurant, the Chef Distilled package includes a one-day, three-stage culinary experience that begins with an afternoon at the Key West Legal Rum distillery. Participants tour the hallowed halls of the distillery – which was the original location of early 20th-century prohibition hotspot Jack’s Saloon – and learn how to ferment, distill, bottle, label and, most importantly, taste-test rum. Beyond departing with a newfound understanding and appreciation for rum distillation, each participant also leaves with a bottle of Key West Legal Rum, which they themselves have bottled and labeled.
From there, Chef Distilled continues to The Stoned Crab restaurant’s newly-launched Eco-Bar, the first bar in Key West to exclusively serve cocktails that use only fresh and local farm fruits and veggies and alcohols free of artificial flavorings and preservatives. Here, participants meet with an expert Eco-Bar bartender to learn how using seasonal ingredients – such as fresh, organic produce from South Florida’s Redland Farms, and herbs and spices grown in the restaurant’s private garden – enhance the taste of a cocktail to a naturally delicious level. Then, using various all-natural alcoholic bases, including the Key West Legal Rum distilled earlier that day, participants mix, blend, stir, and shake the Eco-Cocktail of their dreams!
After the Eco-Cocktail Hour, Chef Distilled concludes with a four-course, prix fixe dinner at The Stoned Crab restaurant, which was rated by Zagat as the “#2 Hottest Restaurant in Key West.” Because The Stoned Crab is known for serving some of the freshest seafood in Key West, the menu will change based on the fish caught that day. However, menu staples will no doubt include stone crab claws, spiny lobster, and the Key West Turkey – a whole fish stuffed with lobster and crab stuffing, skewered with Key West Pink Shrimp – which was just named by Travel + Leisure magazine as one of the year’s must-have dishes.
“Distilling your own all-natural rum, making your own Eco-Bar cocktails, and pairing those cocktails with locally-sourced, sustainably-caught, fresh seafood dishes, is the perfect way to celebrate Key West’s culinary scene in just one day’s time,” concluded Menta.
The Three Hands Experience is named after Key West’s newly-launched sustainable seafood market – Three Hands Fish. In an industry where 90% of the seafood Americans consume is imported from countries like China, Vietnam, and India – where 50% all fish are harvested in often-overcrowded fish farms polluted by fecal matter, toxins from agricultural runoff, and banned antibiotics – Three Hands Fish is founded on seafood transparency, honesty, and sustainability. The name Three Hands Fish comes from the reality that only three ‘hands’ ever touch their fish: the hand of their THF commercial fishermen, the hand of their THF market fillet master, and the hand of their THF customers, which include community members and local Florida Keys restaurants. Since launching in February 2016, Three Hands Fish now supplies hundreds of Key West community members, over 20 of the Florida Keys’ top restaurants, and numerous corporate accounts including Google with fresh, sustainable seafood.
The Three Hands Experience offers a tour of each ‘hand’ in this super-short and ultra-transparent supply-chain. It begins in the morning with a half-day charter fishing trip, the “First Hand”, led by a local Key West captain, where participants fish the Gulf and Atlantic for grouper and snapper, among many other species, while learning about which catch methods and techniques work best for each species.
Once arriving back to the Three Hands Fish dockside market, their day’s catch is hand-delivered to the market’s fillet masters, thus commencing the “Second Hand” of The Three Hands Experience. Participants learn about the Three Hands Fish mission to promote seafood transparency and honesty. They also learn about which species is currently available at the market, its flavor profile and recommended cooking techniques; and, ultimately, they learn how to properly fillet their day’s catch, assisted by of fillet master.
From the Three Hands Fish market, participants journey 100 feet down the dock to hand-deliver their freshly filleted fish to the neighboring The Stoned Crab restaurant – the “Third Hand” – where it’s then prepared by Executive Chef Paul Menta as the main course of that evening’s four course prix fixe seafood dinner.
“The feeling of pride, self-reliability, and independence that’s experienced when enjoying a meal that’s caught and prepared by your hands just hours earlier is a feeling unlike any other,” said Captain Tony Osborn, Florida Keys commercial fisherman and Three Hands Fish co-founder. “It’s a feeling that transports you back hundreds of years, before the days of mass grocery stores and chain restaurants – all of which serve the same frozen garbage masked as ‘fresh’ and ‘local.’ The Three Hands Experience provides participants with more than a tour of our Three Hands Fish supply chain, it offers a tour of the American Seafood Industry two-hundred years ago, at the dawn of our country.”
Both the Chef Distilled and The Three Hands Experience packages come with a once-monthly upgrade option to substitute the four-course prix fixe dinner at The Stoned Crab with an on-the-beach cooking class led by Chef Paul Menta of The Stoned Crab. For more information on Chef Distilled and The Three Hands Experience, and to book your package, call or email the Ibis Bay Resort Fun Desk, the scheduler for both eco-foodie experiences, at 305-296-0616/ email@example.com. For additional hi-res photography, email firstname.lastname@example.org.