The Crooked Spoon Gastropub recently celebrated its 5th Anniversary
The well-known and highly-praised Central Florida restaurant is frequented and enjoyed by many in the Central Florida area but how many know the inspiring story behind the Crooked Spoon and its journey over the past 5 years?
Chef Steve Saelg came from a large family where food meant a delicious dining experience.
After years in the finance industry on New York’s Wall Street, as well as in Central Florida, Steve made the decision to explore his passion in the culinary arts. After graduating in 2005 from Le Cordon Bleu College of Culinary Arts, he perfected his skills by working alongside notable chefs in restaurants such as the Tavern on the Green in New York City, Orlando’s K Restaurant and Wine Bar, and the Citrus Club.
In 2010 Chef Steve became known as a pioneer in the food truck industry in Central Florida by starting a food truck he named, The Crooked Spoon. His creative gourmet dishes and other unique food options made his food truck a sensation among food truck foodies.
As the popularity of the Crooked Spoon increased, Chef Saelg appeared on the Cooking Channel’s Eat Street. His recipe for Swordfish and Grits can be found in the Eat Street cookbook.
After three years, Chef Saelg decided to bring The Crooked Spoon off the road and by doing so fulfill a long-time dream to open a place where locals, young and old, would gather, enjoy good food, and create memories. Chef Steve was committed to supporting local farms and ranches whenever possible by purchasing their products for his restaurant while having his guests enjoy his savory gastronomical offerings.
August 2013, Chef Saelg fulfilled his dream by opening the doors of The Crooked Spoon Gastropub, a full-service gastropub located on the corner of Citrus Tower Blvd and Hwy. 27 in Clermont.
It wasn’t too long after the opening of The Crooked Spoon that Chef Steve was diagnosed with pancreatic cancer. On June 17, 2014, after a painful battle, Chef Steve succumbed to the horrific disease at age 40, leaving his wife, four children, parents, friends, and followers.
Chef Steve Saelg’s brand remains strong, his vision and purpose endure, and his faithful foodie followers continue to visit The Crooked Spoon Gastropub to enjoy the menus that were created by Chef Steve.
Chef Steve Saelg left a resilient footpath to success, a strong brand, and an inspiring legacy. His family remains guardians of his vision:
- “Our culture centers around training and educating our staff, as well as understanding that everyone has something valuable to offer the restaurant in terms of an idea for an exotic dish, a new cocktail, or with areas of our service. From owners to dishwashers, we can learn something new every day to better ourselves, which translates to stronger customer experiences.”
- “It is important for us to source fresh and local ingredients to support our ever-changing menu, which consists of unique takes on traditional and not-so-traditional pub food.”
- “We concentrate on Florida brewed beers and other craft beers to round out our already extensive 24-tap and bottle menu.”
- “Sports brings people and communities together and we’re focusing on College Football, the NFL, Soccer, Golf and Major League Baseball.”
– Chef Steve Saelg –
Chef Steve’s brother in law, Victor Huryn, has taken up the baton to ensure that Chef Steve’s dream continues. I spoke to Vic recently about the restaurant’s 5thyear celebration.
TABLET: Chef Steve was a driving force in all aspects of The Crooked Spoon Gastropub brand. It’s obvious that the Crooked Spoon’s brand hasn’t tarnished. Can you provide a little insight on how you have maintained the high standards and popularity of one of South Lake’s favorite hot spots?
VIC: I worked alongside Steve on the food truck, learning his vision and palate. With that and my own culinary background, I am blessed enough to be able to tap into exactly what my brother-in-law intended. As for our high standards and popularity, the thing we do is offer specials that change daily and focus on bringing something new to something people are familiar with. When someone goes out, they like to feel like they belong and, at the same time, like they are getting something unique. The CSG prides itself on giving everyone that experience.
TABLET: Were you prepared to forge ahead on the path of Chef Steve?
VIC: When Steve needed a partner to help turn the food truck into a gastropub, he knew I had a similar drive and dedication to God, people, family, and food that he enjoyed.
While no one is truly ready for a loss, to this day, I know that I channel the creativity and spirit of Steve into each of the dishes we create.
TABLET: Tell me a little about the menu? I love the Jackson Burger
(I believe that the delicious burger was named after his son). Is
there any other menu items which hold an endearing title?
Vic: The 420 Burger was featured as a special burger for an event when the food truck first opened and since that day has never disappeared from the menu. It was so popular, that it was featured on national TV. However, no item holds the same sentiment as the Jackson Burger (named after Steve’s son). The other kids are still trying to hone their skills so they, too, can make a menu-worthy meal like the one Jackson and Steve created together.
TABLET: Tell me how you continue to keep the menu vibrant and delicious.
VIC: Honestly, in keeping with Steve’s initial intent of a scratch kitchen and paying attention to the possibilities that the season and area provides.
TABLET: I’ve heard that you are a Mixologist. (True/False?)
Vic: Mixologist… I don’t know. I have experience in all facets of the restaurant business and that is just another phase. When we turned the food truck into a restaurant, we knew how important it was to use the same creative flair and incorporate ingredients and flavors that we use in the kitchen behind the bar.
TABLET: Is there anything you’d like to share with the readers?
Vic: The Crooked Spoon Gastropub offers unique craft beer, wine, cocktails and traditional fare with a twist. Whether it is for a night out with the family, or something a bit more intimate, we pride ourselves on avoiding to be pretentious and instead focus on providing the atmosphere and service the people of Lake County and Central Florida are looking for.
We are working on getting a catering branch of the restaurant up and running sometime in January. Stay tuned.
The Crooked Spoon Gastropub not only celebrated its 5th Anniversary but also the memory of Chef Steve Saelg, his vision, his life and his legacy.
Bon Jovi’s song It’s My Life, performed by Kings County at the celebration.
Congratulations to The Crooked Spoon Gastropub