Meet Chef Dave of Halyards & Tramici – St. Simons Island, GA’s Best Catch
Chef Dave Snyder is the owner and executive chef at Halyards Restaurant and its neighboring Tramici Neighborhood Italian. Both spots are two of my favorite restaurants in the Golden Isles. Chef Dave embodied the spirit of the whole farm-to-table movement before there was a slogan for it. He purchases much of his produce from Baker Farms in Brantley County and chickens from Grass Roots Farms in Glennville and most of the time the restaurant’s fresh catch of the day is his own prized catch. He loves to fish off-shore and in the rivers and bring his success back to the restaurants.
Some of my favorite entrees at Halyards are the WILD GEORGIA SHRIMP AND GAYLA’S GRITS with Andouille Cream Sauce with Tomato and the SAUTEED FISH TACO with Cabbage, Black Beans, Cilantro and Apple Pico de Gallo. I prefer to eat at the bar with Maxi, the bartender, who has been with Halyards and Chef Dave for eleven years. Maxi is super charming, makes amazing seasonal drinks and can pair your culinary selection with the perfect glass of wine.
Next door, Tramici’s massive brick oven puts out some amazing Roman style pizza pies and calzones. The lasagna and spaghetti with meatballs are spectacular. Try the CHICKEN PICATTA Sautéed Chicken Breast Scallopine over Angel Hair with Spinach and Artichokes or LOCAL SHRIMP AND SAPELO ISLAND CLAMS SCAMPI Tossed with Garlic, Butter, Broccoli Rabe and Spaghetti. This is a great place to take the whole family.
Q&A with chef/owner Dave Snyder –
Five ingredients always in your pantry-
Soy sauce – no matter what type of cuisine, it works for flavor and as a salt substitute.
Gayla’s Grits from Lakeland, GA – they are not just for breakfast anymore. Great family has grown and ground their grits from the same land for 100 years. I like using them as a thickening agents in creamy chowders.
Georgia Farms Olive Oil – chef’s blend and the straight Arbequina. Wonderful success story of a family taking a huge chance/risk and producing the first extra virgin oil East of the Mississippi since the 1800’s. Oh yeah, and it’s DELICIOUS.
Colombian Coffee Beans – again, not just for breakfast, although some mornings I have an IV of strong coffee. Maybe because mom was from there and the majority of my family is in Bogota, I love using the beans for desserts and marinades of game. Great with duck and quail.
Xerez Vinegar, a.k.a. Sherry Vinegar – obviously salad dressings. I love it for gastriques and it’s my secret ingredient for guacamole.
Five ingredients always in your fridge-
Sweet Grass Dairy Cheeses – Great Bread, tasty wine………….enough said.
Verjus – it is a tart juice made from unripened grapes. Great to use as a vinegar. On hot GA afternoons, add ice and a splash of SE GA Sorgham and drink it up.
Avocados – in any and every way. Colombian staple dish is white rice, a runny fried egg, and sliced avocado. I could eat it every day for breakfast.
Butter – I can’t live without it, period. Don’t tell my cardiologist, please.
Frozen strawberries and cherries – Every morning I start with a yogurt smoothie with the fruit.
Do you cook at home? And if so, what?
On nights off, I’m a sucker for a big salad and a bowl of pasta. In the winter, I love starting a braised meat in the afternoon to make the house smell like a home for dinner. Summertime, I usually go crazy with tomatoes and corn.
Where is a culinary travel destination for you and why?
San Francisco and NYC have been my most frequent past special places. The Ferry Building Market in SF has been more fun than I can handle and eating/walking my way through NYC was always a great time. The market in Bogota, Colombia, was amazing because of the amazing varieties of fruits and vegetables from the Andes Mtns. I hope to visit the markets of Paris, Rio, Madrid, and Sydney one day.
What are your go-to popular items you like to serve at a cocktail party?
Filet wrapped asparagus tips with Boursin cheese, we make our own cheese that is delicious. I like to make little mozzarella balls during the party to watch friend’s reactions. Can’t forget garlic poached shrimp or guacamole.
Sweet and Savory- name your favorite dishes for each.
Sweet – Banana bread with ice cream and a fosters sauce.
Salty – Beef and rice empanadas with aji, a Colombian staple. My aunt makes the best.
What do you like to do outside of cooking?
I am headed to Islamarada, Florida to go fishing in a few weeks and that is what I love to do most!
What would you want for your last meal?
Give me the empanadas, guacamole, a whole roasted hog snapper, a slice of NY strip, and a bowl of rice. Please invite my parents and my dogs, they have to be there.
If you want to delve deeper into Chef Dave’s culinary mind, you need his cookbook.
Chef and Owner of Halyards and Tramici Restaurants, Dave Snyder and local Botanical Artist, Hillary Parker have collaborated to create a truly unique cookbook that delights both the palette and the palate. Edible Art “joins an artist’s passion for art with a chef’s passion for food to celebrate the art in both,” proclaims the cookbook’s frontispiece.