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New chef at Sundial brings a fresh approach

By Staff | Nov 15, 2017

Sundial Beach Resort & Spa’s executive chef Aaron Chavarria. ASHLEY GOODMAN

Aaron Chavarria, Sundial Beach Resort & Spa’s newest executive chef, is focused on bringing in fresh, sustainable food.

“I use whatever is in season,” Chavarria said.

According to Chavarria, the menu at the resort’s five dining venues will stay the same for the most part. Instead of making major changes, Chavarria said he will build his menu around what’s available – this means sourcing local vendors for seafood and vegetables.

“We are going to use everything that grows in this area,” he said.

Two new menu items include a seafood ceviche and mariscada. The mariscada consists of lobster, domestic shrimp, seasonal fish, Florida octopus, vegetables and sausage.

Seafood ceviche. ASHLEY GOODMAN

“My passion is homestyle cooking,” he said.

Chavarria also plans to update their pizza menu with interesting concoctions. The menu will be finalized in December.

Chavarria who was born in Nicaragua, studied agricultural engineering at Hams Beimler in Germany. While there, there he learned the science of fruits and vegetables. After his stint in Europe, he moved to Key West, Florida.

“It was there my career started,” he said.

In Key West, Chavarria became head chef at the Crowne Plaza La Concha. He later worked alongside Will Greenwood, a well-known chef, at the Pier House Resort and Caribbean Spa. During his career, he has opened restaurants in Florida, California and Curacao and has earned recognition from Zagat and Cooking Light magazine.


Chavarria said Sanibel might be his favorite spot so far.

“To me, this island is a jewel, a destination,” he said. “I want to give our customers the most beautiful experience.”

Before coming to Sanibel in October, Chavarria was the executive chef at the Hyatt Regency’s waterfront restaurant in Sarasota. Chavarria comes from a large family – he’s the youngest out of seven children. Although has had years of formal training in the restaurant industry, he still credits his mother with what he knows.

Until Dec. 21, Shima will offer their two for one dinner special on Tuesdays and Thursdays. For more information, call 239-472-4151.