I’m always, always on the lookout for new restaurants. Just so happens that on Instagram, I came across a picture of a beautiful beachside view courtesy of Seachasers. That was all I needed to see, and if the food was good, that would be a plus. Worst case scenario: I sip on a drink and enjoy the view. Cut to now, and I’ve been to Seachasers a few times. I have to say, the view is ten times better in person. You can enjoy a panoramic of Jacksonville Beach while dining, and they can even open the windows to take it to the next level. As for the food, the Truffle Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese and Seafood Bouillabaisse made me a believer. For this article, I sat down with Executive Chef Darin Ball to talk everything Seachasers.
Tell me about Seachasers? Why should people come here?
Seachasers has its own style. It is a massive building capable of providing service to the general public and allows for parties to be going on simultaneously in any of the other three rooms that are available. It has a laid-back beach atmosphere while still providing an upscale feel. You can dress to your comfort level, whether it be shorts and flip flops or dressed to impress. Either way you are going to feel comfortable and have fun. The food is always evolving. I will never stop working on the different dishes that we offer, from the small plates to my lunch menu that is full of delicious sandwiches. Our view is second to none, with the ability to open the windows and give you a feel of sitting outside.”
How long have you been open?
We have been open since January 16, 2016.
Top three dishes?
Truffle Lobster Mac ‘n’ Cheese, Seafood Bouillabaisse, and Smokey Wings.
Truffle Lobster Mac and Cheese
Is there a popular dish that you didn’t think was going to be popular and why?
The popular dish that sells like crazy and people love is our buffalo cauliflower. It’s healthy and different. Gives vegetarians an option to be like wing eaters.
What is your culinary background?
My background in culinary goes back twenty years, but I really started to love fine dining when I began working at The Ponte Vedra Inn and Club. I was able to absorb knowledge from a lot of talented chefs that came from all over the world. Being able to do different styles of cooking and infusing them with my own flare and vision allows for our menu to be able to evolve and have many different dishes.
You related how in your first job you saw how much fun the guys in the kitchen were having and felt their camaraderie. Was that the impetus for becoming a chef?
Everything about that made me feel like I wanted to be part of it.
How did you get into cooking?
I always worked in restaurants since high school. Food and Beverage just seemed to be my thing. I would work front of the house as well as back of the house and eventually ended up in management. I like for things to be perfect, so I ended up just trying to lead the kitchen, and after my training I got at PVIC my career really took off. I can’t be more thankful for the experience I got from there than I am now.
How did you end up at Seachasers?
I came to Seachasers to work alongside a couple great friends who have since went on to bigger jobs where they get to travel the country opening kitchens in different cities.
What is the craziest thing that ever happened at Seachasers?
Prior management allowed for a party of 60 people to sit upstairs while we were already busy and gave them full open menu without notification. In my entire career in this industry, I have never had to move so fast to make “IT” happen! We were able to get them all fed, and nearly ran out of all my seafood to do so. That was CRAZY!!!! Our NYE party for Carve Vodka was a close second. 400 people, all-you-can-eat buffet in two separate rooms with the entire building packed full of hungry people who are ready to drink their faces off.
What is the plan for this year at Seachasers? Improvements?
This year I am able to do more than last. With a full year of being open, I am able to know what the people who frequent the beach like to eat. I can see what sells and what doesn’t. I am excited to start using sous vide for my proteins, and I think everyone is going to love the new menu items about to roll out over the next couple weeks. We are working on service training, and I am bringing in a lot of good talent to help execute our food this summer.
If you’re anywhere near Jax Beach, Seachasers is a must. I’ll give you two more reasons to go: Their cocktails are happy-hour priced and, when available, oysters are 50 cents. All day. Everyday.