Stephen Fries: A savory dish that’s a real winner

It was an honor again, acting as host for The Big Taste at the Greater New Haven Chamber of Commerce’s The Big Connect. The event showcased more than a dozen area restaurants and bakeries, where attendees sampled and then voted for their favorite savory dish, as well as their favorite sweet treat.

Congratulations to Anchor Spa, 272 College St., New Haven, 203-821-7065, that took the best savory dish award. Executive Chef and General Manager Stephen Ross was gleaming as I announced the winner. Ross previously owned Cast Iron Soul in Hamden. When I asked about how he became interested in becoming a chef, he said, “my grandmother cooked a lot and I followed in her footsteps.”

Chef Stephen described a few of the popular menu offerings, and they definitely tempted me. Upon my next visit, I will be checking out the sweet potato cornbread, as well as the Anchor Chicken and Waffles. For those who like to indulge in Manhattans, I hear the “Manhattan After Dark” (cigar smoked Woodford Reserve Bourbon, Benedictine, Ruby Port, Canton Liqueur, Angostura bitters) is a popular selection.

The Anchor, as it was called for decades; now called Anchor Spa has a storied history in New Haven. Most might not know that Anchor Spa, founded by Albert “Al” M. Levett, was its original name, dating back to when it first opened in 1933 in Milford. It was named for Anchor Beach in Milford. The establishment moved to its current location in 1939, and has played host to many celebrities, including Lucille Ball, Douglas Fairbanks, Thornton Wilder, as well many other actors, artists, and poets. Additionally, the Anchor always welcomed faculty and students from Yale, and visitors to the Elm City. Despite being selected in 2014 by cocktail historian David Wondrich as one of the year’s “Best Bars in America” for Esquire Magazine, it suddenly closed in January 2015.

After being closed for over a year, Karl Franz Williams, a 1997 Yale graduate, saw a vision to reopen this landmark and make the space evolve with the changing times. After graduating from the Ivy League, he worked in the marketing, brand management, operations, and innovation departments of Procter & Gamble and Pepsi Cola North America. He also founded and became CEO of Good Ice Marketing, a strategy and marketing firm that creates engagement for brands through developing experiences for influencers, designed to touch all senses thus creating lasting memories.

Not a new-comer to the mixology and restaurant worlds, he began his mixology career in his parents’ kitchen by watching his father create unique non-alcoholic drinks made from herbal teas, juices, and ginger or lemon/lime soda. Quickly developing a palate and concepts for what flavors worked well together, he soon began making his own drinks. While working in innovation at Pepsi, he began searching for inspiration for new beverage concepts, thus he started working with top mixologists in NYC.

Early on, Williams opened Society Coffee (2004) in Harlem, 67 Orange Street (2008) in Harlem and Solomon & Kuff’s Rum Hall (Dec 2015), a 5000-square-foot Pan-Caribbean restaurant, rum bar, and lounge - located in the Manhattanville Factory District of West Harlem. A cocktail and culinary destination for those looking to experience a taste of the new, he oversees all operations as well as the cocktail program that spans more than 100 rums and unique rum cocktails.

Williams has been working on distilling the essence of the old Anchor and its endearing community values, while adding a new audacious chapter to the renowned cocktail club’s storied past.

Prepare grits according to package, replacing water with milk and do not add salt. While grits are cooking, prepare the rest of the recipe.

In a sauté pan, heat oil. Add sausage and sauté until it releases some fat. Add onion and garlic and sauté until onions are translucent. Add crushed red pepper flakes. Add shrimp and Cajun spice, toss gently. Pour in lobster or fish stock, cover and cook for about 4-5 minutes. Add lobster meat and kale and sauté until heated. Adjust spices, as desired. Add cold butter and let melt.

Place cooked grits in a bowl and top with the shrimp and lobster mixture. Serves one.

Send us your requests: Which restaurant recipes or other recipes would you like to have? Which food products are you having difficulty finding? Do you have cooking questions? Send them to me. Contact Stephen Fries, professor and coordinator of the Hospitality Management Programs at Gateway Community College, at or Dept. FC, Gateway Community College, 20 Church St., New Haven, 06510. Include your full name, address and phone number. Due to volume, he might not be able to publish every request. For more, go to

Jonathan Edwards Winery Dinner: Jan. 10, 6 p.m., Shell & Bones, 100 South Water St., New Haven, 203-787-3466, $100 includes tax, gratuity and a gift from the winery.. Reservations are required. For menu and pairings visit

Consiglio’s Cooking Demonstration and Dinner: Jan. 10, 6:30 p.m., Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, 203-865-4489 (reservations required), $65 (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). Preparation of a four-course meal is demonstrated. Each course is shown, step-by-step, and then served. Learn how to make some of Consiglio’s trademark dishes: Spicy Tuscan Shrimp, Iceberg Wedge with Gorgonzola and Pancetta, Homemade Four Cheese Ravioli with Meat Sauce, Almond Amaretto Cake.

Date Night, Cast Iron Cooking Class: Jan. 13, 6:30 p.m., Chef’s Emporium, 449 Boston Post Road, Orange, 203-799-2665, $75. Invite a special someone to join you for a fun night out. If you have never tried cooking with cast iron or if you just want some useful tips, then this class is for you. Cast iron cookware is one of the most versatile, and can easily withstand a beating in the kitchen from repeated use. You and your date will also learn the tips to cleaning and caring for your cast iron pan properly. If you don’t have a cast iron pan, then you will want one by the end of this class! Bring a bottle of wine or your favorite beverage with you to this class. One Pan Crispy Chicken Legs with Brussel Sprouts, Pumpkin Pecan Skillet Cake with Salted Butterscotch Glaze. Tickets at

Consiglio’s Murder Mystery Dinner — “… Or Not to Be” Jan. 19, doors at 6 p.m., dinner and show at 7, Consiglio’s Restaurant, 165 Wooster St., New Haven, reservations at 203-865-4489,, $55 includes dinner and show (beverages, tax and gratuity not included). An interactive comedy show that goes on as you dig into a three-course dinner.

Fire & Ice Festival, noon-5 pm, Jan. 20, Saybrook Point Inn & Spa, 2 Bridge St., Old Saybrook. 860-395-2000, Enjoy a unique day full of food and beverage, ice sculptures and more. With winter-themed festivities and demonstrations going on all day, this occasion is a must-see. The festivities of the day will be accompanied by seasonal food from our Culinary Team at Fresh Salt along with drink specials from our Marina Bar. Check out the overnight packages.