George's at Alys Beach Welcomes New Executive Chef Darek Tidwell

September 3, 2014 by SoWal Staff

George’s at Alys Beach, Ann and George Hartley’s casual dining spot on Florida’s scenic Highway 30A, warmly welcomes Darek Tidwell as executive chef. Tidwell, a graduate of the Culinary Institute of America (CIA), will oversee all kitchen operations and introduce a new menu that elevates George’s regional coastal fare while preserving the staples loyal guests have come to know and love. 
“We’re thrilled to welcome Darek to the George’s family,” says Ann. “I’m thoroughly impressed with the knowledge and experience he brings to the table. George and I can’t wait for our guests to taste his dishes.”
Tidwell moved to Florida from South Carolina back in June in order to familiarize himself with the region’s local bounty. He visited local farms and ranches to develop relationships and strengthen the restaurant’s existing partnerships. His new menu is slated to roll out OCT 6 and will bring local ingredients front and center while incorporating flavors from around the globe and employing modern cooking techniques.
More of the menu’s global influence will come straight from Tidwell’s kitchen staff. An ex-Brazilian police officer turned garde manger is passionate about bringing her culinary heritage to the table. While, two line cooks are working closely alongside Tidwell to establish a charcuterie program. And Jake Purvis, George’s general manager and sommelier, is working with Tidwell to expand the beverage program to include a wider selection of boutique wines and beers that pair perfectly with Tidwell’s cuisine.
“George’s already has a stellar reputation for serving some of the best dishes along 30A,” says Tidwell. “We want to preserve what’s great while pushing the envelope to take the food to the next level. Sourcing quality, exciting ingredients from our trusted partners and tapping into the talents, interests, and heritages of my kitchen staff are critical elements to making that a reality.”
Tidwell honed his cooking skills at the CIA where he met his mentor, Jose Sanchez, a Michelin-starred chef on the forefront of molecular gastronomy. When Sanchez left the CIA to become chef de cuisine at Morimoto, Tidwell spent his weekends staging alongside him. His first executive chef role was in the kitchen of Bistro Arielle at the Belvedere Mansion, a French-Mediterranean restaurant in Rhinebeck, New York. In 2010, Tidwell relocated to Washington D.C. for a job with the Mandarin Oriental Hotel Group. And a year later, he was recruited by the Ark Restaurant Group to revamp the menu at Sequoia, where he worked closely under the group’s Executive Chef David Waltuck. After years in big city kitchens, the University of South Carolina in Columbia lured Tidwell to the South, then he ventured further down the coast to join the Hartley Restaurant Group in June.
Ann and George Hartley opened George’s at Alys Beach in 2008 as part of the Hartley Restaurant Group, which includes La Cocina Mexican Grill and Bar and Seagrove Village MarketCafé. George’s is an upscale beach restaurant serving Southern coastal fare infused with global flavors in Alys Beach, Florida. Dishes are crafted using locally sourced, organic produce and the freshest seafood available. This attention to detail further translates into their thoughtfully curated wine list and decadent desserts. Housed in a beach cottage with a plethora of outside dining options, the space is simultaneously airy and intimate as diners relax by the beach. George’s is open seasonally Monday through Saturday for lunch from 11 a.m. to 3 p.m. and for dinner from 5 p.m. to 9 p.m.
For more information, please visit, or follow George’s on Facebook, Twitter, and Instagram.   


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