People crave the simple joys in life, like crackling bacon in the morning or a warm, gooey cookie baked with love. At specialty food shop Two Chefs on Hillview, Sarasotans can enjoy these culinary pleasures, cooked up by chef-owners Frank Imbarlina and Mellissa Louty. Imbarlina and Louty both own their own wholesale food businesses while collaborating and selling products under the Two Chefs on Hillview brand. Imbarlina heads up SRQ Cured, which specializes in locally smoked fish and charcuterie, and Louty runs Blue Dahlia Bakers and Catering. While Imbarlina supplies SRQ Cured seafood products to restaurants, hotels and markets like Morton’s Gourmet Market, customers can purchase meat charcuterie produced by him only at Two Chefs on Hillview. Louty, who focuses on baked goods at the store, also caters for a variety of special events through her wholesale companies. A drive to play around with new ideas inspired the pair to team up and combine their expertise with an innovative concept. 


“We had a lot of respect for each other,” says Imbarlina, “and both of us were looking to grow our wholesale businesses.” The pair decided to search for a workspace that would allow them to expand while sharing rental costs. When their current space, occupied by the former Gateway to India restaurant, on Hillview St. became available, they tailored it to their needs. They transformed the dining area of the restaurant into a kitchen and took advantage of the shop’s location on the busy street by situating their gastronomical shop at the front of the building. 

Photography by Wyatt Kostygan

In addition to the baked goods made by Louty, charcuterie products produced by Imbarlina and soups, dressings and sauces made by both from scratch, the store also assembles charcuterie trays and other arrangements for smaller events. The business’s flexible nature allows the pair to experiment with the menu, which changes on a regular basis, and balance their culinary vision with customer tastes, a concept on full display in the charcuterie and mixed arrangement boards. “We’re traditionalists and purists,” he adds. “To us, charcuterie is just meat, but we have a cheese board and mixed arrangements because people are used to everything coming on one tray. ” Blending convention with customers’ whims keeps Imbarlina and Louty on their toes, sparking a bounty of recipes.   

With plans to build back their business, the Mandells are optimistic about the future and eternally grateful to their NewGate family.

“This is a playground,” Imbarlina says, “and when you do wholesale production, you’re making the same stuff all the time in big quantities, so you get a little bit bored and want to come up with new recipes.” With many offerings, like the soups, the pair tries out their own individual flavors and concepts, like Louty’s Peruvian chicken and rice soup. The chefs also incorporate seasonal inspiration into their dishes, such as the chilled yellow tomato gazpacho, a summertime favorite. 

“We concentrate on making everything in the shop ourselves,” Imbarlina says. While the store does carry products that are not produced in-house, the majority of the food is made by the team. For their popular bacon and onion jam, Imbarlina cures Duroc pork belly, known for its marbling, with a curing mixture containing maple brown sugar and white pepper for about a week. He then smokes it on an electric smoker to ensure that the flavor of gas does not seep into the meat, and Louty uses the bacon to make the jam. Whether preparing bacon bits or entire pastries, the pair pours their hearts into each element, no matter how small. “If I have a Danish on the menu, then I make the dough myself,” adds Louty. From hand-rolling out the dough for croissants to making her own Danish filling, she ensures that each product is made with care and attention to detail. “It all comes down to freshness and integrity,” says Imbarlina. “Everything that comes out into the shop has our name on it,” he adds, “but even if it didn’t we’d still make it the same way because that’s the kind of chefs that we are.”