Honey, What's the Buzz?
The culinary teams at two of Amelia’s best resorts are creating quite a buzz with their efforts to provide guests with the freshest of local ingredients. Both The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island and the Omni Amelia Island Plantation now have flourishing beehives, producing localized honey that is making a sweet addition to many dishes served on property. In addition to tasting great, the local honey has numerous vitamins, minerals and antioxidants and can even help with seasonal allergies.
About 18 months ago, The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island began an on-property beehive program as part of an outgrowth of their Farm to Table initiative. Inspired by then Executive Chef Thomas Tolxdorf, the property began identifying local and regional farmers to supply produce and seafood for Café 4750. The property planted a Chef’s Garden and eventually decided to build beehives on property as well.
“The Ritz-Carlton Company is a steward of the environment through its Community Footprints programs,” said Executive Chef Andrew Yeo at The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island. “Bees are in short supply and are critical to pollinating plants and flowers. Our beehives have a population of 200,000 honey bees working throughout local neighborhoods.”
The Ritz-Carlton, Amelia Island uses the honey in yogurts, gelatos and breads from the Pastry department, as well as desserts, meringues and other sweet treats. They offer special tasting samples with crackers to guests. The program is continuing to grow, with a number of demonstrations and interactive seminars offered throughout the year.
The Omni Amelia Island Plantation recently started The Sprouting Project, a unique program by the resort’s Executive Chef Daven Wardynski, which consists of a state-of-the-art aquaponic greenhouse, an expansive organic garden, a collection of beehives and a soon-to-be completed smokehouse. Unveiled in May 2015, The Sprouting Project is still in its infancy but quickly blossoming into a guest favorite.
Chef Wardynski hand-built the bridge that leads from the organic garden to the apiary that houses more than 70,000 bees. Cultivated with the help of an expert beekeeper, the bees are helping to sustain the area’s native population, which has been dwindling in recent years. Chef Wardynski tends the bees himself and the culinary team incorporates the harvested honey into seasonal dishes, such as plantation honey ice cream, honey caramel and honey vinaigrette. Each morning in the Art of Breakfast Buffet, the Sunrise Café showcases the unique honey offerings, along with select other local honey options.
Growing up in a small farm community in Michigan, our sprouting project is a complete depiction of me, down to the bluegill and sunfish swimming in our aquaponic tanks that capture the nostalgia of fishing with my Dad,” said Executive Chef Daven Wardynski. “Truly supporting the local community is something I am extremely passionate about.”