The Florida Rock Shrimp ‘n’ Grits entree, featuring Geechie Boy Mill grits, at Driftwood is the Boynton Beach restaurant’s best-seller. / Photos by Piper Jones Photography

Jimmy Everett, owner of Driftwood restaurant in Boynton Beach, recently told Florida Food & Farm about his new venture. He also recalls how, on his first day in a professional kitchen about 17 years ago, he partially cooked “more dried pasta than I had ever seen” — not to mention doing the same with a couple hundred pounds of chicken.

On March 24, Jimmy will prepare a dinner — one of a series of fundraisers for the Fresh RxFund — at Lox Farms in Loxahatchee. The Fresh Rx Fund is a partnership between Lox Farms and the Community Foundation for Palm Beach and Martin Counties. The fund was created so that doctors can write prescriptions for fresh produce for patients who have been advised to change their diets as part of a comprehensive treatment plan.

Question: Tell us about your first kitchen experience.

Jimmy Everett

Answer: I started in restaurants as a busboy at Atlantis Country Club (in suburban Lantana). I loved helping out in the kitchen and definitely preferred the kitchen atmosphere over the dining room. I wanted to get into the kitchen but was too young for them to allow it at the time. After a few weeks of my pestering a manager at Macaroni Grill, he hired me as a prep cook. Once the management at Atlantis Country Club heard this, they gave me the spot in the kitchen that I wanted. I didn’t have the guts to properly quit Macaroni Grill after one shift and weeks of begging for a job, so I no-call, no-showed. I burnt the first bridge of my career and have made a point to never do so again. As far as my first day on the job in a professional kitchen, I remember par-cooking more dried pasta than I had ever seen and par-cooking a couple hundred pounds of chicken for piccata/francaise.

Q: What three words best describe yourself, and why?

A: Hardworking, focused and thoughtful. The first is something I learned from a young age — that you have to work hard for what you want and need. I tend to focus very hard on the task at hand, which can work for and against me. By “thoughtful,” I tend to think too hard, often over-analyzing things.

Q: As a chef working in Florida, what do you get most excited about?

A: The ingredients. Few things excite me more than working with fresh local seafood, meats and produce. I only work with people who respect their product and have similar high standards like ours.

Q: Tell us about some of the local farms you work with, and what they provide to you.

A: Holman’s Harvest Farm provides us with the majority of our local produce, as well as their amazing pasture-raised eggs. Kai-Kai Farms and Lox Farms also provide us with great local produce.

Q: Who has helped you get to the place you are now?

A: My wife and family, to start, followed by a lot of amazing people who taught and inspired me. Probably way too many to list.

Craft cocktails and beers are on Driftwood’s menu.

Q: How would you describe the local chef community – and how are you involved?

A: This is something that I think needs a lot of work in our area. I think local chefs need to work together more, as it’s beneficial for everyone. Recently opening up a restaurant, in an area that I was familiar with from childhood, and visiting — but not at all on a professional level — taught me how important it is to be connected with local chefs and restaurants. Our area is growing fast and developing a higher standard for quality in restaurants. By working together, we can become a destination for great restaurants.

Q: Back to Driftwood: Why should we love the restaurant, and what are you doing there that’s truly unique to the restaurant and to you as a chef?

A: Driftwood was meant to be a place that you can feel comfortable, enjoy food and drinks that are responsibly sourced and thoughtfully created, and have great service. We aim for “fine dining” quality but with a more comfortable and welcoming-to-all environment (and prices). I couldn’t say you should love those things in a restaurant, but I do. We do a lot of things that are unique in ways as far as food and drinks go. But for me, consistency is something that I find many restaurants in our area have trouble with. It’s very important for us that our guests “know” they can come to Driftwood and that we will always meet or hopefully exceed their expectations. For me as a chef, this is my first time owning a restaurant, which makes things very different than my past experiences as a chef. As far as our food goes, we have some staples on our menu that I feel are a core representation of what Driftwood is. However, it’s very important for me to constantly push myself to be more creative with our local products that change frequently.

Q: Is there anything on your agenda that we should know about?

A: I am — slowly — working on organizing some sort of a database that local chefs can use as a resource for purchasing sustainable, local products. It is focused more specifically on seafood for now, but I would like to include anything locally available. If anyone has any input or would like to be a part of it, please contact me.

Q: Shout-out: Is there someone (for example, a purveyor, farmer, chef etc.) you’d like to tell our readers about?

A: The Goodland, a small pastry shop in Delray Beach, has the best pastries and baked goods you can find around. It’s a tiny place doing amazing things, and very much a hidden gem in Delray. All of our local purveyors are amazing, and people who respect their products as we do ours.
2005 S. Federal Highway
Boynton Beach

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