215 Princess Street
Open M-F 10-2
Keith Rhodes is a very busy man, and it can be a challenge to catch him. We went behind the scenes in downtown Wilmington to find out why he earns rave reviews, awards and loyalty.
Chef and owner of Catch Keith Rhodes has so much on his plate, he practically meets himself coming and going.
Rhodes said, "To be honest with you, I probably work every day, seven days a week, maybe for as little as four hours or as much as 16, 18 hours a day."
He works this hard to keep his dream alive.
"I dreamed about actually owning my own restaurant for a very long time. The opportunity presented itself and I just had to seize it," Rhodes said.
His passion inspires him to create unique combinations of food.
Rhodes's friends sing his praises.
Waitress and long-time friend Kim Stonestreet said, "Awesome, one of the best men I've ever met. Good family guy, great work ethic, just a good guy."
And his food?
"Excellent," Stonestreet said "Consistent is the biggest thing. He's always consistent, consistently good, and that's what you've got to be in the restaurant business."
Loyal customers know the ingredients of his signature dish by heart.
Andrew Gray dines frequently at Catch. He said, "It's calamari and cucumbers and ruby red grapefruit and dill and it's just really good."
Rhodes had special role models. He said, "The men in my family were very inspirational cooks. My grandfather and my father were dominant cooks in the family, and as a youth I would always look at them. My granddad had a little garden in the backyard and was really in tune with nature, so it inspired me a lot to do a lot of seasonal preparations, as well."
He's also passing on the passion.
Keith's daughter Kristen Rhodes said, "Well, for the summer I'm working here and I'm my dad's daughter."
Rhodes opened "Catch" to reel in the lunch crowd.
Rhodes said, "Atlantic salmon, fresh local mahi, fresh local flounder, fresh local shrimp. We also use organic vegetables and herbs, from, I'd say, within 30 to 45 minute radius from around Wilmington. Seventy-five percent of what we do here is local and organic."
Catch isn't the only place Rhodes creates culinary concoctions.
Rhodes is currently the executive chef at Deluxe, which is only open in the evenings, and brunch.
"I just try to take every day one at a time," Rhodes said. "Sometimes it's a little overwhelming, but, you know, I'm just taking it in stride."
"I hope to be a chef some day, just like my dad," Kristen said.
Rhodes's creative recipes and his commitment to using locally grown products earned him the "best dish" award from the North Carolina Department of Agriculture. He'll be presented the award at the State Fair in Raleigh on October 17. (View the press release here.)
One award was for not just the "best dish," but for his entire menu from Catch, in the "casual dining" category. And the other award was, again, for his entire menu from Deluxe in the "fine dining" class.
As a result of his top finish in both categories, he's also been invited to do live food preparation demonstrations at the State Fair. The tentative schedule is Saturday, October 13th and Saturday, October 20th.
Confirm these dates before you go by visiting the State Fair web site at http://www.ncstatefair.org
Another local restaurant also took honors in the "Best Dish" competition. Chef Luke Armitage of Indigo Marsh took third place in the "fine dining" category. Indigo Marsh, located at 602B Roland Avenue in Surf City is owned by Alison Lucien. (910-328-2580) http://indigomarsh.bluegecko-topsail.com/home.php
Details on the finalists in the prestigious statewide competition can be found on the website of the State Department of Agriculture at http://www.ncagr.com/markets/gginc/bestdish/index.asp