Executive Chef at Pineda Crossing
Rand Morgan has come a long way since his humble beginnings as a dishwasher at a local steakhouse. The man who is now responsible for Pineda Crossing Bar & Grill’s mouth-watering “casual gourmet” menu has also cooked for international dignitaries and enjoyed the company of world-renowned chefs including Julia Child, Paul Bocuse and Norman Van Aken, just to name a few.
Morgan, who originally moved to Brevard County from Rhode Island at 16, became excited about cooking during his during his teens, but it wasn’t until his college years that he became serious about pursuing a career in culinary arts. After graduating from Brevard Community College with two business degrees, he decided to chart a new course and enrolled in the prestigious Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY, where he graduated with honors.
After graduation, Morgan bounced around, working at country clubs in Greenwich, CT and Fort Lauderdale before assuming his first executive chef position in Grand Junction, CO, where he stayed for five years. Missing his home in Florida, he answered an ad for the executive chef’s position at Pineda Crossing.
“I flew down to meet the owners, Bob and Cathie Popp, and a match was made,” he says.
Originally opening its doors in 1996, Pineda Crossing has established itself as a dining fixture in north Melbourne, a fact that can be attributed to the restaurant’s friendly service, and, of course, flavorful menu largely consisting of steak and seafood dishes topped with made-from-scratch sauces and paired with a variety of fresh potatoes, rice and vegetables.
When asked about his signature dish, Morgan points to his crab cakes, which combines crab meat, sautéed bell peppers and onions, a touch of mustard and horseradish, and just enough Italian breadcrumbs to hold it all together. The crab cakes are then lightly coated in Japanese breadcrumbs and pan-fried.
“My upbringing along the shore in New England game me a respect for delicious blue crab and it definitely sells well at the restaurant,” he says.
While Morgan believes seafood affords him the broadest platform to tap into his creative side, the chef certainly doesn’t limit himself to one specialty. An enthusiast of worldwide cuisines, Morgan says his culinary style has it basis in classical French techniques. Overall, however, he just loves working with fresh and wholesome ingredients.
“Our menu is prepared carefully and with the knowledge that our guests expect the very best each time they come through our doors,” says Morgan of Pineda Crossing. “We will continue to provide great food for years to come, and I will continue to pursue my love of global cuisines and teaching young cooks the secrets of good food.”