Have Food, Will Travel

Good Bite

Pictured: Level up your next event with a charcuterie spread from Two Chefs on Hillview. Photo courtesy of Two Chefs on Hillview.

Three years ago, chefs Frank Imbarlina and Mellissa Louty teamed up under the moniker Two Chefs on Hillview and started dishing up delightful delicacies to a devoted following of Sarasota foodies. The pair had each spent decades in the restaurant industry before opening their own businesses. Louty was offering catering services as well as making wholesale breads and desserts for local restaurants, while Imbarlina was producing artisan charcuterie items and smoked fish products for wholesale distribution.

“That’s how Frank and I met. We were both renting the same space for our wholesaling businesses,” Louty explains. “Our businesses were growing and we wanted to have our own place. So we were really just looking for space to do our wholesale businesses and catering for me. And then we found this spot on Hillview and with the location we thought it would be fun to have a little store, too.”

Having a storefront in addition to their wholesale businesses gave Imbarlina and Louty the opportunity to flex their culinary creativity. In addition to their wholesale items, the chefs also offered an array of other items including soups, sauces, and quiches whose flavors varied from day to day. Over the next few years, they built up a loyal local following. But in February of 2024, catastrophe struck when the cost of their property insurance skyrocketed by over $30,000. Imbarlina and Louty were forced to shutter their beloved business with no warning. Thanks to the generosity of the culinary community in Sarasota, the Two Chefs on Hillview have managed to keep the business going.

“We’re moving around from kitchen to kitchen each week,” Imbarlina says. “It’s rough, but we have good friends who have rallied behind us and made it possible to keep going. We’re doing anything we can right now to keep the brand alive while we’re looking for a new spot.”

In their more limited capacity, Two Chefs on Hillview are still able to offer plenty of customer favorites. Charcuterie boards remain a top priority. Imbarlina prepares pates, rillettes, confits and spreads for the True Charcuterie Arrangements, while Mellissa makes the bread. Mixed Arrangements including charcuterie and bread, along with extras like cheese, fruit and homemade accompaniments like creole mustard, and pear and ginger marmalade. There are a wide array of other arrangements to choose from including various Dessert Arrangements featuring artisan desserts by Louty.

Two Chefs also provides full-service catering, offering everything from multi-course sitdown dinners to 200-person cocktail parties with passed hors d’oeuvres or grazing tables. They offer some unique bites, like WonTon Cones stuffed with savory and tangy orange beef.

“A lot of people are used to working with other caterers that just send over a standard menu,” Louty says. “We like to talk to our clients and find out what their event is about and what they’re looking for as far as food. Then we customize the menu and send it to them and work with them to build exactly what they want.”

Two Chefs has also resurrected Bootsy’s Pot Pies, a favorite from the old storefront. Customers can call in pre-orders for pot pies which will be delivered once a month. Flavors are posted on the Two Chefs on Hillview Facebook page. Louty also continues to offer all of her baked goods, including her signature key lime pie and visually stunning custom cakes.

One of the things both Imbarlina and Louty enjoyed most about their storefront was having a place to host public cooking classes. They have adapted to that setback as well, and are offering private classes for the time being. As they look for a new storefront, one with a space for cooking classes is high up on their priority list. But finding a space has proved daunting, and despite their resiliency, the pair could use a lucky break.

“We need to find a space,” Imbarlina says simply.

Two Chefs on Hillview, (941) 210-3535, chefs@twochefsonhillview.com, twochefsonhillview.com.

Pictured: Level up your next event with a charcuterie spread from Two Chefs on Hillview. Photo courtesy of Two Chefs on Hillview.

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