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Best Pest List

Chef Bill vents his culinary vexations


Maybe I’m a little early; maybe I should wait for December, but I’m feeling, and I mean really feeling the need to list the most excruciatingly irritating trends of 2019. For some reason, I just have to get it out and what better place than here in the pages of Folio Weekly. Don’t worry, it’s a short list! But the year is young yet …!

It begins with people who feel the need to shout “New Year, New Me!” continuously, even though January is nearly over. Oh, wait—that’s me. Well, it just proves no one is too good for The List. The next one has become the proverbial salt in my wound. It’s the way guests order food. “I’ll do the … (fill in an item; let’s just say soup). You’ll do the soup? And just what clever possibly illegal or immoral acts will you preform upon said soup? What does this phrase mean? Does it mean the guest would like to place an order for a bowl of soup?

Up next on The List is kombucha. This supposedly gut-healthy liquid is all the rage. Can you go to any decent coffee bar anywhere that doesn’t have their own house-fermented version? Just ask the barista about the choices and a 30-minute diatribe is sure to follow about the garbage they’ve stuffed in a jar and let rot. This delicious concoction is great for the digestive system. Back in the day, my grandparents made a similar concoction in their backyard—they called it a compost pile. We did not drink the resulting liquid for gut health.

My favorite positive movement so far in 2019 is clean eating, because it’s a flavor-centered trend showcasing whole foods, such as sweet potatoes.

Sweet potatoes are a terrific starch alternative. They were quite popular among poor folks as cheap nourishment in Asia, like white potatoes were in Europe. Sweet potatoes aren’t of the nightshade family like their white potato cousins, so the greens and flower sprouting at the top of the plant are edible. Fantastic news! Maybe these will be available at Publix someday.

There are only a couple of basic rules to follow for cooking sweet potatoes. The first? Never boil them. A baked sweet potato is amazing with just a knob of butter and a sprinkle of coarse sea salt. Or as a farce for ravioli. Just prick the skin with a fork and bake on a sheet pan at 400˚F for about an hour. This concentrates the natural sugars.

If you’re using them as an essential ingredient, peel, dice and only add them near the end of the cooking process, because they cook quickly.

In this recipe for Caribbean sweet potato hash, you will peel, dice and roast the golden vegetables at a high temp to get them wonderfully crispy.




• 2 sweet potatoes, peeled, large dice (3/4”)

• 1/2 red pepper, large dice

• 1/2 green pepper, large dice

• 1 jalapeno, small dice

• 1/4 red onion, large dice

• 4 oz. smoked sausage, half-moons

• 1 Tbsp. garlic, minced

• 4 oz. olive oil

• 2 oz. Worcestershire sauce

• 1 oz. molasses

• 1 Tbsp. chopped parsley

• 1/2 Tbsp. chopped cilantro

• 4 scallions, sliced

• Salt & pepper to taste



1. Mix potatoes with 3 Tbsp. oil. Roast at 425°F until soft.

2. Heat remaining oil, sauté onions, peppers and sausage.

3. Mix sautéed vegetables with roasted potatoes, season with Worcestershire sauce, molasses, salt and pepper.

4. Toss with herbs and scallions.


Email Chef Bill Thompson, owner of Fernandina’s Amelia Island Culinary Academy, at, for inspiration and to get Cheffed-Up!

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