David Ouimet seared the fish in the pan, turning up the heat as the meat sizzled. With a practiced eye, he watched as the transformation from “not quite” to “just right” took place.
At that precise moment, he scooped the fillet from the flame and whisked it onto a plate. He gently placed it on a waiting bed of rice, arranging the dish on a table in Bistro Eleven 88.
It’s not just the picture-perfect meal that showcases Ouimet’s skill. It was on display — literally — throughout the room. The walls were papered with awards nabbed at local culinary events like Taste of Glynn and the Shrimp and Grits Festival.
Ouimet, who also owns Purple Sage Catering, says the company is always thrilled to participate in community events for good causes.
“We love doing it. We especially love Taste of Glynn since it benefits the Glynn Community Crisis Center and Amity House. They are wonderful organizations,” he says, seating himself at the bistro’s bar.
When he’s not giving back, Ouimet can often be found at one of his two businesses, where he shares his love of bold flavor. It’s a passion he began to cultivate decades ago when he decided to make creating food his profession, signing on for culinary school in Colorado.
From there, he went on to traverse the country — working at a club in New Jersey, then down to Florida to open a restaurant.
“I started to get burned out working 100 hours a week and a buddy I had just got a job at Sea Island. So I decided to interview ... and I got the position,” Ouimet says.
He worked at the private resort for eight years, soaking up all the knowledge he could from the talented chefs there. One of his specialities was creating ice carvings around the holidays.
“That was great. I miss doing that,” he says with a laugh.
But, he has plenty to keep him occupied these days. There’s the restaurant, located at 1188 Chapel Crossing Road in Brunswick, where he welcomes diners, many of whom are students at the nearby Federal Law Enforcement Training Center (FLETC).
“We have salads, burgers, and sandwiches. Everything is made fresh and is locally sourced where we can,” he says.
In addition to serving lunch — 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. Monday to Friday — there’s the catering operation, Purple Sage, on the weekends. Ouimet and his team are always busy with weddings and other celebrations like bah mitzvahs and birthdays.
And while the pandemic certainly put a damper on those this spring, he’s looking forward to moving past it.
“We’re excited to get back to work and for other people to get back to work ... back to work, and hungry,” he says with a laugh.