Chefs, Recipes + Videos
Step into our Chef's Kitchen
Meet our chefs, plus discover amazing chef recipes + our best cooking videos
Much of TradeWinds Island Resorts’ culinary success is thanks to Executive Chef Justin Harry and his team. With a combined effort, they bring impressive dining experiences to all the resorts' catered events, resort restaurants, and beverage outlets. Before we introduce our chefs, though, our chefs give you a behind-the-scenes look at their recipes and the magic in the kitchen.
Let’s start with the magic … Our RumFish Grill Chefs, along with Captain Mike Anderson from Reel Animals Fishing Show, will show you how to make some of our popular dishes served at RumFish Grill. Here’s one video, below, to snack on first, then visit our Hook It & Cook It video gallery to watch all of the RumFish Grill behind-the-scenes action.
Can’t wait for your vacation to dine on Florida’s finest fare? View our amazing chef recipes.
NOW, MEET OUR CULINARY TEAM:
Executive Chef Justin Harry
Growing up traveling the United Stated and Europe, Executive Chef Justin Harry first became interested in culinary arts at a very young age while learning to cook with his family in Naples, Italy. It was then that he decided to make his career in the culinary industry.
With no formal culinary education, Chef Justin always relied on his intuition and innate pleasure for cooking when creating his blend of old world and modern cuisine with bright and clean flavors. Chef Justin was previously the Executive Sous Chef at La Torretta Lake Resort and Spa in Montgomery, Texas, and the Executive Chef at The Canyons Resort in Park City, Utah.
When Chef Justin is not playing golf or fishing, you will find him behind-the-scenes as the Executive Chef at TradeWinds Island Resorts, a position he's held since 2010. Since joining TradeWinds, he has led his team of chefs in hosting top companies, over-the-top weddings, and local, state and national dignitaries.
Chef Thomas G. Mandzik
It took eight years in the food and beverage industry before Chef Thomas Mandzik considered a career as a chef. After working in every area of restaurants, he made the decision to attend culinary school at The Art Institute in St. Petersburg, Florida.
Prior to joining TradeWinds’ culinary team as the Chef de Cuisine at Bermudas, Chef Thomas interned with one of Tampa’s top chefs, Chris Ponte. After completing culinary school, Chef Thomas had a thirst for knowledge and went on to apprentice in Chef Jean Phillip Polo’s kitchen, where he was promoted to the Executive Sous Chef position at the Treasure Island Yacht and Tennis Club. Propelling himself in the culinary world, Chef Thomas went to work for Chef Matt Tracy at the St. Petersburg Yacht Club as the Banquet Sous Chef.
Today, Chef Thomas can be found in the Breckenridge building where he oversees all culinary operations for Bermudas Steak and Seafood Restaurant, Beef ‘O’ Brady’s, Salty’s Bar and Room Service. Being native to Florida, Chef Thomas has a passion for Gulf Coast regional cuisine and showcases his love for local sustainable foods with a fine dining approach.
Executive Banquet Chef Michael E. Karasek
Chef Michael Karasek's first taste in the kitchen was when he was a young man and his father got up every morning to make him breakfast before school. This family tradition quickly became a lifelong passion.
Prior to joining TradeWinds culinary team, Chef Michael worked in Orlando, Florida, at two five- star resorts, The Peabody Orlando and Hyatt Regency Grand Cypress. In 1990, Chef Michael attended the Pennsylvania Institute of Culinary Arts in downtown Pittsburgh, where he also became a Steelers fan. While attending school, he worked at the CA MURE flagship restaurant "The Grand Concourse" and the Vista International Hotel, both located in downtown Pittsburgh.
Chef Michael relocated back to Florida where he worked at Hilton Worldwide as Executive Chef at the Walt Disney World Company. As his family grew, he decided it was time to share his knowledge with younger generations — future executive chefs — and spent many years working with the American Culinary Federation's “Chef & Child Foundation" which educates children and families in understanding proper nutrition. Chef Michael was also a Culinary Instructor and Mentor at the LE Cordon Bleu Orlando Culinary Academy. After many experiences in teaching and mentoring, we are proud to have Chef Michael as the Executive Banquet Chef at TradeWinds Island Resorts.
Chef Jon Hilton — Chef de Cuisine Palm Court Italian Grill
Chef Jon Hilton grew up in a family of home cooks where he learned the fundamentals of southern cuisine. Landing his first job in an Italian restaurant, Chef Jon discovered his love for food and decided to make culinary arts his career.
Expanding his knowledge in the art, Chef Jon went to technical school where he received his diploma in culinary arts. He quickly rose through the ranks and became Lead Line Cook at Osprey Village, an upscale retirement center. After a brief stint at the Ritz-Carlton Amelia Island, Chef Jon began working at Amelia Island Plantation Resort alongside the Master Chef where Chef Jon became a Tournant Chef of all the food outlets. Chef Jon also was Chef de Cuisine at The Florida Yacht Club in Jacksonville.
Since joining the culinary team at the TradeWinds Islands Resorts in March of 2013, Chef Jon has worked his way to the position of Chef de Cuisine of the TradeWinds signature restaurant and TripAdvisor’s No. 1 rated St. Pete Beach restaurant, Palm Court Italian Grill, where guests enjoy the results of his love and passion for Italian cuisine.
Chef Aaron Schweitzer — RumFish Grill
Like many chefs-in-the-making, Aaron Schweitzer started young. He and his family vacationed on the Outer Banks, and at 17 years old, he thought he’d try to get work there and stay the whole summer. He landed in a kitchen run by a Culinary Institute of America graduate. The experience had a huge impact on him as he worked his way up from dishwasher to food prep by the end of the summer.
Schweitzer went on to attend Pennsylvania Culinary Institute and has worked in cities such as New Orleans and Charleston before moving to Wilmington, North Carolina. There, he was the Chef de Partie at a private country club for four years before moving into a new direction as the Chef for Circa 1922.
Throughout the following 14 years, he assisted in opening various concept restaurants to include Prima, Boca Bay, Osteria Cicchetti, The Kitchen, The Grand Union Pub and Osteria Cicchetti II. He’s led a varied career when it comes to cuisine styles, but he says all his food really follows the same principles. “Just keep it.”
LOCAL CATCH DISCOUNT PACKAGES
Our Hook It & Cook It videos are perfect for guests who want to replicate their vacation dining experience, but for locals, let us do all the work. Sign up for our Local Catch Discount Program, extraordinary RumFish Grill offers for local residents! Reel in your Local Catch Card today.