Celebrity Chefs of South Florida: Kim Kelly of Hurricane Alley

Located in downtown historic Boynton Beach Florida, just steps from the local marina, Hurricane Alley is part of the renaissance of the downtown area. Featuring oversized sandwiches, crisp salads, fresh seafood and a great raw bar, this small town restaurant has garnered several awards in the past few years, most notably:

  • Best Seafood Restaurant 2014 by Best of Boynton!
  • One of the top 10 bars in Boynton Beach 2015 by The Culture Trip
  • 2016 City Beat News Spectrum Award for Excellent Customer Service

Recently, Palm Beach Happening sat down with Kim Kelly, Owner/Chef/Operator of Hurricane Alley, to get her perspective on food, life, and fresh fish!

 

Drake, Kim and Gage

 

How did you get started in the food industry? I started in the food business when I was 17 years old as a bartender at Red Lobster. I worked my way through college bartending several jobs at one time and then just stayed in the industry after graduating. I had some managerial experience in Key Largo shortly after college but the South Florida vibe was calling my name..Throughout the 80’s I worked from Spring Break bars as the Playpen and Penrods,  winning The Best bartender SAM award that Penrod’s hosted (how do you think I got the job..) to moving more north and settling at the Banana Boat in Boynton from 1986 to 1996 as a bartender. 

 

Can you tell us a little more about your Restaurant? My restaurant started as a 26 seat coffee shop with 900 square feet in July 1996 called Cafe Barista.. After all I was a bartender not a cook. We had a beer and wine license and a very bad food menu.

I was failing miserably when I decided to take the restaurant in a different direction.. I scratched the coffee idea ( even though I was runner up for the Glass Ceiling Awards given out by  NAWBO (Nat;l Assoc of Women Business Owners)  for the coffee idea but Florida was still not up to speed with the whole Starbucks evolution.. at this time it was a West Coast thing. I decided to change the name, theme and menu and I had 3 years cooking under my belt.

 

What is your philosophy on cooking? My philosophy of food is give them food that is fresh, good quality as well as quantity and put a little love in everything you cook and don;t let them leave hungry! 

 

Of  all the dishes on the current menu, which is your favorite?  My favorite dish are the homemade soups we make on a daily basis..It reminds me of times my mom would make a fresh steaming pot of homemade soup when I was sick or cold or just needed that “Campbells” Moment.

We offer such soups as Turkey Dumpling, Crab and Corn Chowder and our house specialty Seafood Bisque in a Bread Bowl.. Our homemade  “Smoked on premise’  fish dip is a popular dish with everyone.  I would create dishes sometimes from my experiences when I traveled, which brought the dish Costa Rican Burger. When I visited Costa Rica I ordered an Hambugesa Especial. I received a burger with ham, cheese , egg and their idea of ketchup which is sweet like our 1000 Island dressing, hence our Costa Rican Burger..then it seemed like everyone was putting egg on their burgers.

 

Are you enjoying your time in Florida? I move here when I was 15 years old from Cape Cod, which to this day I pull some New England flare into my dishes. I love Florida and would never leave!! Heat and all I am a Florida girl!

 

Can you tell us more about your fine dining experience? Fine Dining..well not a lot when it comes to that…can I feed 300 people with success YES!  I have never really been a fancy girl more like lets get down to the nitty gritty girl. Hard work does pay off sometimes you just need a little patience..

 

What is the funniest thing to happen to you in your cooking career? Funny story..not sure I should cop to these instances but here it goes.. When I first started my coffee shop, I wanted to make egg salad but I only had an oven in my kitchen..so I took 3 raw eggs put them in water and turned on the microwave..a minute later after I heard the sound of gunshots (eggs exploding ) and I  hit the ground only to smell this odor and started laughing that maybe this wasn’t such a good idea..ok ok..Next I wanted to put my oven to use and called my mother to see how to bake a potato..I will say no more!

 

Many restaurants in South Florida now focus on using more local cuisine. What foods are you planning on highlighting this season?   We offer a “U Hook Em We Cook Em” when you go on The Seamist III, (party Boat)  Geno IV, Miller Time or Hammertime Boat Charters out of the Boynton Marina, we will cook your catch for free.. We also offer fresh fish and use local produce.

 

More and more chefs in the Palm Beaches have become involved in cooking contests featured on the Food Network. Do you have any interest in that? I can say I am a competitive person and if its the right fit, then yes. I am not a top chef kind of cook. I do not use duck fat or cook with pork belly.  I specialize in that one of a kind Caribbean Chicken sandwich or an oversized specialty burger that we offer on our menu or our infamous “Garbage Fries” with a homemade cheese sauce, bacon, guacamole, sour cream, Spicy boom boom sauce, tomatoes, onions and more shredded cheese on top that we offer on my food truck along side the Buffalo Tender Mac n Cheese.

 

What new and exciting plans do you have for your restaurant? We recently remodeled our bar and lounge area which has been a great success and just continuing to give great food , at great prices for a great customer are my plans for the future.

 

Palm Beach Happening would like to thank Kim Kelly of Hurricane Alley for agreeing to this interview.

If you’re a local chef whose cuisine matches up to the best out there, we’d love to talk to you. Contact us and perhaps you can be the next celebrity chef!