World-renowned YouTuber spotlights two local restaurants

A little fishing from local restaurateur Keith Rhodes yielded a significant catch.

Rhodes, chef and owner of the Catch restaurant in Wilmington, learned that international food blogger Mark Wiens was staying with his family in the mountains of North Carolina.

“There was a major outbreak of COVID in Thailand, where he is based, and he had to wait,” Rhodes said on Monday. “When I found out, I emailed him; I’m a lifelong fan. He’s like the president to me.

In his post to Wiens, Rhodes invited the YouTube vlogger to visit the coast, presenting an idea that went beyond Catch cuisine: something Rhodes called a “lightning tour” showcasing his seafood sources. local sea. Wiens apparently jumped on the bait.

The video, Soft Shell Burger & Oysters + BEST SHRIMP & GRITS!, begins at Catch, 6623 Market St., where Rhodes made their signature shrimp and grits, followed by grouper and grits and a Limpin Spicy Okra dish. ‘Susan – a reference to New Year’s favorite Hoppin ‘John, to whom Limpin’ Susan was married, according to Southern culinary tradition.

After Wiens and his family sampled this popular Catch dish, they headed by boat to Middle Sound Mariculture’s oyster farm, where Rhodes gets the oysters served at Catch. Owner James Hargrove explained how oysters grow to maturity in healthy, sheltered waters and harvested ready-to-eat specimens.

From there, the group took Rhodes’ Catch the Food Truck – run by Rhodes’ wife, Angela – to the Carolina Beach location where “Uncle” Phil Smith produces soft-shell crabs.

“I’ve been buying soft-shell crabs from Uncle Phil for over 20 years,” Rhodes said in the video, as Smith showed how he monitored the molting process of blue crabs and sold the crabs before they regrow a new shell.

In the food truck, Rhodes prepared — and Wiens tasted — Catch’s signature soft-shell burgers.

Hopping in a boat, the group headed out to the salt marsh to watch the mussel harvest with Ana Shellem, owner of Wrightsville Beach-based Shell’em Seafood.

“I was the first [restaurateur] in Wilmington to use local molds,” Rhodes said Monday.

The hour-long show culminates in a collaboration between Rhodes and Lee Grossman, chef and owner of Bento Box Sushi Bar and Asian Kitchen at The Forum. While Rhodes prepared “Dirty South” roasted oysters and fried soft-shell crab in the Bento Box kitchen, Grossman demonstrated the assembly of several types of sushi.

Grossman, who traveled to Thailand in 2017 to research his restaurant’s Pan-Asian menu, spoke about his culinary journey with Wiens, a Chinese-American who lives in Thailand with his Thai wife, a travel vlogger.

Like Rhodes, Grossman is a fan of Wiens and his YouTube channel.

“He’s probably the biggest food blogger in the world,” Grossman said Monday. “He has eight and a half million followers. Keith has put everything in place to show our little part of the world.”

Rhodes was pleased with Wiens’ visit and the resulting video.

“He’s a nice guy; he only wants to bring out the best,” he said. “The video was a great opportunity to introduce ourselves. Everything worked very well to showcase our community.

As of Tuesday, May 24, the episode has garnered over 1.2 million views, aired May 14, and generated strong positive responses from Wiens subscribers.

“It’s been gangbusters,” Rhodes said of his impact on his restaurant. “We have received calls from all over the world.”

Many of the top commenters commented that the episode was Wiens’ best yet.

“I had the honor of spending a few days with Chef Keith Rhodes and his wonderful family. It was an enriching experience to see the quality ingredients he sources from the Carolina coast and the passion behind them. “, Wiens wrote in an email. “Thank you Chef Keith and everyone who made my trip so memorable. Let’s also support local producers, restaurants and family businesses! »


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