By Chris Kridler

Local Chefs Share Passion & Love for Cooking

 

Julie Shipley (pictured above)
Owner and chef at The Soup Shop, Melbourne

Favorite creation: Green chile chicken soup, inspired by a soup sold in the Albuquerque airport

Julie Shipley didn’t used to be much of a cook. But when her airline pilot husband, Phillip, and son, Ross, started spending a lot of time hunting, the sometime computer repairwoman found herself drawn to the culinary arts.

“I was turning into a bitter old shrew, so I decided I’d better get a hobby,” she jokes.

She pursued her new interest 150 percent, studying in New York at the Culinary Institute of America, then taking classes at Keiser University. “Even after learning all that, I just cooked very elaborately for my family for several years,” Julie says. She started cooking in two pots at the Snack Shack at the Viera Pro-Health & Fitness Center, and then moved to a kitchen where she could supply other restaurants, too. Her business transitioned from wholesale to retail as customers snapped up the leftovers; she opened The Soup Shop in Post Commons about two years ago.

“It’s been an incredible journey,” she says, from a one-woman operation to a bustling storefront eatery with a staff of 12 that makes 700 gallons a week and ships soup all over the country.

About 70 types are available hot or in take-home containers. They range from the feel-good soups that got her started, including 20 gluten-free flavors, to rich bowls of lobster bisque and her best seller, chicken enchilada. The family came to Brevard County from Texas about 13 years ago, so alongside sandwiches and salads, she offers Lone Star specialties, such as brisket and salsa. It’s all made from scratch.

“I’m trying to feed people the way they would want to feed their families.”

 

Marco & Cinta Auddino
Owners and bakers at Marco and Cinta Auddino’s Italian Bakery, Cape Canaveral

Favorite creations: Baked cinnamon rolls and Italian bread

Marco and Cinta Auddino carried Italian tradition and immigrant entrepreneurship with them to Port Canaveral from Columbus, where Marco’s Italian parents started the Ohio city’s largest privately owned bakery.

“We came down here on our honeymoon in 2006,” says Marco, “and I fell in love with the port and some of the people here.” The couple opened their own Italian bakery four years ago. It now neighbors the port’s new centerpiece, though weathering the construction wasn’t easy. “The welcome center is just beautiful,” Marco says. “I’m in love with that Exploration Tower.”

He and his wife met during an Italian festival in Columbus, when Cinta’s parents bought bread from the Auddinos for their food concession. “He calls me Squid Girl, because I was doing fried calamari,” she says with a laugh.

“My mom almost gave birth to me in the bakery,” Marco says. “Her water broke, and my dad was baking some bread, and he said, ‘I can’t go now; I’ve got bread in the oven!’” Outside of a stint in the Marines after high school, Marco spent all of his time in the family business. “My first toy was a dough ball,” he remembers.

Versed in his father’s techniques, he and Cinta — who is also a nurse — run the wholesale bakery at the port, supplying about a dozen restaurants. They also sell meals and goods to the public, from Italian bread, cookies, house-made gelato and tiramisu to the Doughssant, a fried and glazed croissant invented by the family that pre-dates New York’s trendy Cronut.

“We always try to keep it very authentic,” Cinta says. “His father always teaches me the proper authentic way of making things. But the quality is No. 1. I just really want the customers to come in and  really enjoy what they’re eating.”

 

Dennis Lott
Executive chef at D.I.G. Bistro, Melbourne

Favorite creation: Pain Perdue, stuffed Challah French toast with mascarpone cheese, strawberries, bananas and honey-berry butter

Dennis Lott proves every day at D.I.G. Bistro in Suntree that playing with food is a worthy endeavor, especially when that food is fresh and sourced locally.

“Whatever ingredients I get from the farms, I just kind of make things up,” says the executive chef. “That’s why I’m so enthusiastic about this place. I get to play with food all day long.”

His father took young Dennis to fine-dining restaurants and encouraged his interest in cooking. Dennis was managing a pizza kitchen at 15 and later graduated from the Florida Culinary Institute in West Palm Beach; later, he was chef at owner Gina Pierce’s Tuscany Grill for 12 years.

D.I.G. (short for Dirt Inspired Goodness) feeds a hunger for fresh, good and good-for-you ingredients. While there’s plenty for the vegetarian and gluten-free crowd, the menu also has delicious indulgences, including breakfast all day long. “People are eating pancakes and waffles and huevos rancheros at three in the afternoon around here,” says Dennis.

On the big board on the wall above the kitchen, visitors can read about his daily creations, derived from whatever fresh finds he and his team get from such vendors as Rockledge Gardens, Ocoee’s Lake Meadow Naturals, Orlando’s Local Roots and Florida Fields to Forks.

One of the most popular items is the homemade beet burger, which regularly seduces skeptics (though Angus beef burgers are also on the menu.) Cold-pressed juices and wheatgrass are in demand. And look for homemade baked goods, from granola to carrot cake, which guests have called the best they’ve had. It’s a phrase Dennis hears often. And thanks to D.I.G.’s wholesome ingredients, he says, “You can come here and eat a big meal and still feel healthy going out the door.”

 

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