|Andrea Spring, award winning pastry chef and pie maker, has recently joined the Sandbar Restaurant staff.
Spring has a virtual pie case chocked full of awards and medals for her decadent desserts and now she, along with her assistant Sam Major, will be using their baking talents to make all the desserts the Sandbar serves. Spring has been competing at the national level since 2007 when she entered her now famous Key Lime Pie in the 2007 Crisco American Pie Council National Pie Contest. That was the first pie competition she had ever entered and she took home Best of Show. Other notable accolades include 2010 Crisco Best of Show for her Chocolate Raisin Walnut Pie, 2013 Crisco Best of Show for her Peanut Butter Cracker Pie, Grand Prize in the 2012 Maple Leaf Farms Chef’s Recipe Contest and multiple first place prizes in a variety of local, regional and national shows.
Ed Chiles had been thinking of hiring a dedicated baker so when Spring contacted Chiles to let him know she was looking at expanding her baking operations Chiles saw this as the perfect opportunity to bring her on board. “I was extremely flattered and excited when Andrea reached out to me and said she wanted to work with our company. Our staff is very excited. Our chefs, Ian Fairweather, Will Manson and George Quattromani have held the bar high when it comes to creating desserts that our guests love. Having a pastry chef of Andrea’s caliber on our team takes us to a whole new level. I am not a sweets guy per se but I find myself having a physical reaction when I am near a slice of any of Andrea’s pies.”
Chiles continues, “This came out of the blue. The timing, on the heels of our recent purchase of two local farms and our expansion into organic farming makes this an extension of our mission to provide authentic, locally grown and locally made menu items for our guests.
Spring and Major are just as excited to be part of the Sandbar team and are looking forward to creating new and delicious desserts for Sandbar guests. The Sandbar and Beachhouse collectively host about 500 weddings per year. This, along with the amount of desserts they serve to regular diners, made Sandbar owner, Ed Chiles think it might be prudent to start making desserts and cakes in house. Chiles explains, “It just makes sense with all the weddings we do to have someone on site making the cakes or desserts for our brides.”
Spring and Major are thrilled to be working in the new state of the art kitchen at the Sandbar and are inspired by the warm welcome they have received from the staff. Spring states, “It is such a team atmosphere here. Everyone is so helpful and supportive. The equipment is top notch and really helps to make a superb product. The overall atmosphere at the Sandbar is so positive, we can’t wait to start creating.” Spring plans to put a twist on some of the traditional desserts the Sandbar serves as well as introducing some new creations. It is her goal to develop a Signature Dessert list that consists of 4-5 main offerings with new desserts being introduced using seasonal items and some of the farm to fork items Chiles has recently introduced to his regular menus. Spring explains, “Strawberries will be in season soon so guests will be able to order a dessert made with these local, fresh berries that are locally grown, organic and so full of authentic flavor.” The strawberries she will be using are from 20 cultivars of organic heirloom strawberries growing at 3 Boys Farm and Gamble Creek Farms, the two farms Chiles now owns. Chiles states, “Andrea has great talent but more than that she has great passion. We are working on integrating the super nutritious plants from our organic gardens like Roselle, into Andrea’s bag of tricks.” Sandbar will be the dessert headquarters for now. Plans are underway to have the new desserts offered at the BeacHhouse and Mar Vista Restaurants, the two sister restaurants to the Sandbar.
According to Spring, her mother wasn’t much of a baker. It skipped a generation with her grandmother teaching her how to bake. Her first pie wasn’t much to crow about. She even cried at the way it turned out. But she stuck with it and now she is an award winner several times over. Spring was co-owner of the Sign of the Mermaid until recently when she decided to expand her baking and pastry chef talents. Spring’s assistant, Sam Major, has always loved baking. He is only 20 years old but, according to Spring, has a promising career as a pastry chef. He is a graduate of H.B. Plant High School in Tampa and attended the University of Alabama. Upon arriving in Florida he answered a classified ad in the local paper for an assistant prep cook and baker for the Sign of the Mermaid. He picked things up quickly and before long was making all of the desserts for the restaurant. Major exclaims, “I am so excited to be working for such an accomplished pastry chef and am looking forward to learning as much as I can. Working with Andrea and with everyone at the Sandbar is going to be such a great experience.”
Spring and Major will be taking a few days off from baking at the Sandbar though. They are scheduled to compete in the World Food Championships Invitational on November 6-9 in Las Vegas. Chiles states, “We are happy to sponsor Andrea in Las Vegas. We are all pulling for her.” This competition is seen as the world series of food competition. It is by invitation only. Spring was invited because she took Best of Show at the Crisco Nationals Pie Contest in Orlando this year. The World Competition is a four day, intense qualification contest covering all food categories. Winners are selected based on the E.A.T. criteria – Execution, Appearance and Taste. Spring will, of course, be competing in the dessert category. If she and Major place first in their category they will then compete as the dessert category winner against all other categories. The prize for taking first in the dessert category is $10,000. The prize for taking first in the entire competition, beating out all other categories is $50,000. This is the second year of the World Food Championship Invitational and Spring and Major’s first appearance. She will be required to prepare a total of four desserts throughout the competition. What she will be preparing is top secret right now but when she returns she says she will be sure to offer it to the Sandbar guests and staff. “Trying out all of her potential selections for her latest and largest competition to date has been very tough on all of us,” Chiles says with a smile, “thank goodness we have a corporate gym membership for everyone. We are considering putting in a treadmill in the restaurant.”
For more information on the Sandbar please visit www.groupersandwich.com or call 941-778-0444.