Friday, February 21, 2020

The Founder's Market + Bistro

Executive Chef Don Splain commands attention as he walks in a room with his bearded visage, appearing much like a Biblical prophet-he stands, 6 feet, ten inches.

 He, General Manager Axel  Rios, and others on The Founder’s team share an inspiring culinary vision that is now a reality. 
Executive Chef  Don Splain and  Axel Rios
  These passionate people, including four CIA-trained chefs,  have a focus, a mission, and their enthusiasm and knowledge are both inspired and inspiring.  They don’t just talk the talk…they deliver, and you taste the healthy benefits of “from scratch” cookery, starting on the Grand Opening, February 21, 2020.

Enter the attractive restaurant from the rear parking lot, walking past the indoor/outdoor speakeasy-style bar, and the wood-fired oven.

The pizza oven doubles as a great way to make perfectly browned U10 scallops in 2-3 minutes- order some!

Look at the exclusive vegan preparation area on the left, in front of the open kitchen (right).

Pasta at Founders is never  “bought”; it’s made from scratch, as wheat berries are milled into flour before your eyes, then moistened and  turned into delicious gnocchi, spaghetti, and other pasta forms, to be  served al dente to you. 
Have you ever had that experience?. Chaff, the dry husk from wheat,  comes out of the other side of the machine, and is used in graham crackers and other pastry products, as well as given back to farmers as feed. Yep, here you do can see “the wheat separated from the chaff!”
Wheat berries, to be turned into fresh flour for baking

Lisa Best and other bakers will bake anything from a plum kuchen that’s a cross between cake and pie, clever 'smores,  to comfort desserts that your grandparents might have enjoyed  a century ago. Christian, another baker, never baked professionally before.  Dan brought him in “cold” to teach him his style of baking from scratch, so Christian would  have no “bad habits” to unlearn!
Plum kuchen

Damon Roseberry, CIA graduate, crafts unique drinks at the bar, like “Green + Serene” with Beefeater Gin, ginger, kale lemon juice, turmeric and Myakka honey;  Myakka Smack” with curry and grapefruit on the rim, and “Founders Club” with gin, purple carrots, and dry vermouth.
Damon Roseberry, right, making Old Fashioned with Old Forester
Myakka Smack beverage
Fresh food is sourced locally when available from farms like Naples’ highly regarded organic  Inyoni Farms. Greens are additionally grown hydroponically on premises. In time, In time, Chef Splain will have pork and beef raised on Founders’ own organic fields.

I and others sampled superb charcuterie,  vegan desserts, prosciutto, and  Iberico ham, served tableside from a moveable meat slicer that’s a work of art.

One high point for me was a fresh beet juice drink-I could drink this breakfast it by the gallon, with its refreshing blend of celery, carrots and ginger!

A tour through a kitchen tells all. The kitchen is HUGE, super clean, and stocked with tools and machines that other chefs could only dream of having access to. If I was an aspiring chef, this is THE place in SW Florida I’d want to spend a year or two at (doing an unpaid internship, or  “stage”) , just to be with 4 CIA trained chefs, dozens of other professionals , and a vast kitchen with equipment that seasoned chefs could only dream of having in their own restaurant kitchen.

Pasta maker

The menu will change day to day, serving breakfast, lunch and dinner.

Make reservations now. The four course Valentine’s Day Dinner was $95, plus tax and tip, pricing is not yet available for regular dining.

The Founders is by the Southwest corner of Vanderbilt and Airport-Pulling Road, at the former site of Calistoga Bakery. 
 7941 Airport-Pulling Rd, Naples, Phone 239-635-9353

Passion fruit sorbet on chocolate

Vegan Gazpacho with Lorenzo olive oil and house-made almond-based “ricotta cheese”, sprinkled with cracked black pepper

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