New chef arrives at SS Hookers
Florida native Richard Howze became SS Hookers new head chef last month. Previously, Howze was working with local celebrity chef Brian Rolland at Crave Culinaire in Naples where he was a personal chef concierge.
Howze has worked as a chef for over 30 years. In 1989, he graduated from a vocational school in Kendall, Fla. He first began cooking when he was 14. During high school, he worked part-time at a local restaurant.
Howze said he has received a lot of guidance along the way in regards to shaping who he is today.
“Someone noticed that I like to cook, so they guided me in the direction of a culinary school and on through my career, at every level, it’s been somebody pushing me in the right direction. It’s mentorship and having the right leaders to instill and inspire you to continue in this crazy business,” Howze said.
He makes a point to use locally sourced food as often as possible. He is a big supporter of the farm to table movement that has become increasingly popular among restaurants.
“We’ve gotten so far out of touch with where our food comes from and what’s in it. It’s concerning to all chefs and everybody in the industry. Then you also have the local economy and the local farmer who’s being cut out of that market. Buying local is first and foremost,” he said.
Some of the local establishments Howze buys from is Trico Shrimp Company which is based in Fort Myers Beach. Trico Shrimp does not use chemicals or preservatives on the seafood they catch. Howze buys from local fishermen as well, and gets his clams from Pine Island. He also buys fresh vegetables from FKS Farms in Punta Gorda and Rosy Tomorrow’s Heritage Farm.
In addition to keeping up with the southern and cajun cuisine SS Hookers offers, Howze has introduced slow braised chicory short ribs, and a classic snapper cubion dish. Howze said that lately, the snapper cubion has been a favorite among customers.
Since Howze began working at SS Hookers, he hopes to continue to work closely with local vendors and enlighten customers on healthy food.
“I want to make it a community place where everyone knows what they’re going to get. It’s a good, domestic product. Nothing over the top, it’s just plain and simple good food,” he said.