Lindsay Autry’s path to top toque-dom has been flavored with career-making stints at some of the swankiest hotels and restaurants in South Florida, including Azul at Miami’s Mandarin Oriental, Michelle Bernstein’s restaurant at the Omphoy Ocean Resort in Palm Beach, and Delray Beach’s historic Sundy House. She’s cooked at the prestigious James Beard House, was a finalist on Bravo TV’s hit reality competition show, Top Chef, and is still savoring the “Princess of Pork” title Cochon 555, a traveling heritage breed piggy event, awarded her this spring. In April, she hung up her own shingle, Fin and Feather (561-202-5310), a Palm Beach catering company specializing in southern soul and Florida coastal cuisine. Here, the fair-haired foodie talks sustainability, heat strokes, and staying true to herself.
PBI: Why did you start Fin & Feather?
LA: I’ve always been a restaurant chef, and I wanted to bring that sensibility to catering. One thing we do is package dishes in attractive containers—palm leaves pressed into platters, bamboo boxes—that can be presented to guests in their homes. We call it our “Good to Go” concept, where the food arrives ready to serve rather than being assembled by a catering crew.
What are some of your more interesting dishes?
Our Pickled Shrimp [recipe below] is a traditional low country dish from Georgia and the Carolinas; I make my own Old Bay and preserve the shrimp in a Mason jar. I use my grandmother’s recipe for devilled eggs, using cornichons and crispy Serrano ham. And we have our Palm Beach Slim Jims: We make our own sausage with fermented jalapenos and dehydrate them to get the right texture.
Why is sustainability important to you?
People are more aware of what they’re eating, and we should know where that food comes from. We try to source all our ingredients from local farmers and purveyors, and only when they’re in season. It’s important to help local farmers and contribute to the support of their families.
Deviled Eggs with Crispy Serrano Ham
How did appearing on Top Chef impact your life?
It definitely accelerated my career. I got an appearance on the Today show, which might have taken another 10 years. I didn’t realize how many people watched it; I just wasn’t prepared for having fans recognizing me while I shopped at Target.
What was the most unusual thing that happened during filming?
We did a 24-hour barbecue challenge near Austin, where we had to cook 50 briskets, 200 pounds of ribs, and 25 chickens. We worked 36 hours straight to get 40 minutes of airtime. It was July in Texas, and one contestant actually collapsed from heat stroke.
Who were your main culinary influences?
My grandmother was from Crete, so I was exposed to an interesting combination of cultures—I was one of the few kids in the South who had fried green tomatoes and spanakopita on the same plate. My grandparents were farmers and I helped out at their roadside stand, selling their produce and preserves. The food of my childhood really does inspire me; I’m paying tribute to who I am.
How would you sum up your culinary philosophy?
I’m doing what I can to make a difference by producing really good food made and served with integrity.
Here, Lindsay Autry shares her recipe for Pickled Shrimp. For more recipes, click here.
- 1 pound medium pink shrimp; shell-on preferably
- 3 tbsp. Old Bay seasoning; divided
- ½ tsp. celery seeds
- 1 cup extra-virgin olive oil
- 3 lemons; zested and juiced
- ¼ cup flat-leaf parsley leaves, finely chopped
- 2 tbsp. fresh dill, picked into small pieces
- ½ tsp. crushed red chile flakes
- 2 cloves garlic, finely chopped
- 12 dried bay leaves
- ½ medium yellow onion, thinly sliced lengthwise
- Bring 2 tbsp. Old Bay and 8 cups water to a boil in a 4-qt. saucepan; add shrimp, reduce heat to low, and cook until shrimp are pink, about 2 minutes. Drain and transfer to bowl of ice water to chill; drain again. Peel and devein the shrimp if using shell-on.
- Combine all remaining ingredients, including 1 tbsp. Old Bay, in a mixing bowl and stir to combine. Add the chilled shrimp and toss to mix well.
- Store shrimp and liquid in a glass jar and refrigerate overnight or up to 3 days.