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Hook & Barrel
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chef brody olive

Celebrated Chef Lures Diners to Orange Beach for a One-of-a-Kind Fine Dining Experience

Brody Olive is the kind of chef who can visualize new culinary creations just by checking the contents of his pantry and walk-in cooler. For broader inspiration, he can take a short walk from the restaurant kitchen to gaze out the floor-to-ceiling windows of his elegant dining room.

Rightly so, the stunning views of the shimmering Gulf of Mexico compete with Chef Olive’s dazzling dishes for his guests’ attention. They offer a large clue as to what’s for dinner at Voyagers, the flagship restaurant at the Perdido Beach Resort in the inviting coastal city of Orange Beach, Alabama. Unless you’re ordering one of the coveted prime steaks seasoned sensibly with nothing but salt, pepper, butter, and a sprinkling of fresh herbs, you can bet that whatever you order is probably fresh from those same waters that Olive loves to fish himself on his days off.

voyagers dining room
The dining room at Voyagers offers incredible views of the Orange Beach shore along with a sumptuous culinary experience.

“All of the seafood on our menu is gulf-focused except for the scallops, which we get from New Bedford, Massachusetts. They are the very best, in my opinion,” Olive says.

A Fresh Twist on Locally-Sourced Seafood

Lots of chefs talk about emphasizing a fresh, seasonal, and local approach, but Chef Brody Olive works hard to put that passion into action. He knows that many visitors to the beach community want to taste something that’s unique to the area, and he does his best to send them home satisfied beyond their expectations. He says that fresh seafood from the gulf is such a great product that you don’t have to do much to it. That being said, it doesn’t keep him from constantly coming up with eye-opening flavor combinations. Many of his entrées incorporate fresh produce from some of the farms in the area.

chef brody olive
Chef Brody Olive doesn’t shy away from innovative flavor profiles.

“We like to play with a balance of big flavors,” says the chef. One example that’s caused tongues to wag in recent months is his black grouper that’s served on a butternut squash polenta. He crusts the thick fillet with a striking seasoning mix that gets its spice from powdered habanero and light floral notes from dehydrated hibiscus blossoms.

Award-Winning Culinary Expertise

Many diners, both locals and visitors, have known about Chef Brody Olive’s talents for years. However, his techniques, creativity, and resourcefulness are making even bigger waves lately. His profile as a shining star chef got a tremendous boost in August when he won the annual Great American Seafood Cook-Off in New Orleans while representing the state of Alabama.

For that competition, he turned heads and captured the judges’ taste buds with a central menu item that’s generally considered less than desirable. When most anglers hook a gafftopsail catfish, which are commonly called gafftops, their first instinct is to do a quick catch-and-release. That’s because they’re covered in slime and they have prickly, venomous barbs on their oversized dorsal fins. But Olive sees them differently.

Not Afraid to Test the Waters

“It’s a really pretty fish,” Chef Olive says, “but just as a defense mechanism it secretes a slime.” He says the flesh holds up to a host of cooking applications, including grilling, blackening, frying, and delicate smoking. He compares its taste and texture generally to freshwater blue catfish. “It’s a little more dense than a flounder but softer than a pompano. It walks that line between white, delicate, and flaky to a little more tooth and medium texture, as a pompano would give you, but with a more fibrous flesh. They feed on shrimp and crab.”

chef brody olive

For the contest, he smoked the catfish over scrub oak and served it alongside pickled purslane, a succulent that grows wild among the beach dunes, and flash-fried mole crabs, which the locals call sand fleas. His leftover bait shrimp wound up in horseradish cream sauce. Here’s the kicker: All of the ingredients he used for his winning entry in the Great American Seafood Cook-Off came from just outside Voyagers, well within view of anyone peering out those big picture windows.

“We harvested everything starting from the west end of the [Perdido Pass] jetties, down the seawall to the end of the rocks,” he says. “We raked the sand fleas out there, we picked the purslane, and we caught the catfish there.”

Adventure Meets Ambiance

Besides its executive chef’s adventurous spirit, something else that sets Voyagers apart is its upscale ambiance. There are dozens of highly acclaimed eateries in the area, but most of them are casual places. Many are often geared toward the area’s bread and butter, which is families on vacation. But a reservation at Voyagers is a high-end and memorable experience that’s smoothly guided by a helpful and experienced waitstaff. The pressed white tablecloths and subdued lighting give it a romantic atmosphere, adding another refined element toward its reputation as a polished crown jewel of the Orange Beach, Gulf Shores, and Perdido Key dining scene.

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