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What Do Flip Flops and Chef Gordon Ramsay Have in Common?

Flip Flops Grill and Chill is a quaint beachside restaurant located at 103 S. Pine Street 725 East Third Avenue in New Smyrna Beach, Florida. Their motto is "Fine Dining in Flip Flops and Tank Tops" and they live up to their aphorism. Although we didn't see any diners wearing tank tops, the food was sublime and the service exquisite.

We arrived at Flip Flops around 7:30pm on a Thursday night. The restaurant was packed and a line of hungry patrons stood outside enjoying the salty air and gentle breezes. While waiting for our table, we noticed a framed newspaper article with a photo of the infamous Danny Veltri; the self-proclaimed "redneck chef" currently competing in Hell's Kitchen.

Come to find out, Danny is the Executive Chef at Flip Flops and would be preparing our meal. I don't know about you, but I've never had a celebrity chef prepare a meal for me. I've watched Danny in action on Hell's Kitchen and expected an intoxicating meal. I was not disappointed; nor were the other members of my party.

Flip Flops menu consists of so many incredible gourmet selections it was hard to make a decision. We began our dining experience with the Bahamian Conch Fritters appetizer, which were fried to perfection and accompanied by a zesty key lime-Dijon dipping sauce.

My friend, Gail, and I ordered the Tiger Shrimp Satays with Watermelon Pico de Gallo. Entrees are served with your choice of soup or salad and a side dish. Gail chose the Cranberry Spring Salad and I enjoyed the Southwestern Chicken soup.

flip flops tiger shrimp satays
Flip Flop's Tiger Shrimp Satays

Our men indulged in Mahi Mahi Gone Bananas; a wicked combination of blackened mahi and grilled banana halves, and Chicken Bruschetta; a divine char-grilled chicken breast topped with fresh mozzarella, tomatoes and garlic. Each of us chose the Peppercorn Bleu Cheese mashed potatoes for our side dish, except for Mike who went with the Pineapple and Walnut Rissoto.


Flip Flop's Mahi Mahi Gone Bananas

flip flops chicken bruschetta
Flip Flop's Chicken Bruschetta

Not only was our food cooked to perfection, it was beautifully presented and accompanied by a gorgeous edible orchid. I'm certain Chef Ramsay would approve of Chef Veltri's creations.

As we were wrapping up our evening, Hell's Kitchen was being aired on the three wall mounted TVs. All eyes were watching as Danny appeared on the screen. We thanked our server for the excellent service and asked her to thank the chef. She stated he was sitting at the bar and pointed him out.

I approached Danny Veltri during the commercial break and asked if I could snap a photo with him for The Cheap Gourmet blog. He eagerly accepted my invitation and participated in a mini photo shoot.


From Left to Right - Gail, The Cheap Gourmet, Chef Veltri, Mike and Brad

Although I was a bit starry-eyed meeting a celebrity chef, what I found most impressive was the humble attitude of Chef Danny Veltri. Instead of taking credit for our amazing meals, he introduced us to Chef Erik Amalfitano; stating Erik is the mastermind behind the gastro-delights.

We enjoyed everything about Flip Flops Grill and Chill. From the warm reception provided by the staff upon arrival, the exquisite food and presentation, the down-home feel of the restaurant and the graciousness of the chefs, Flip Flops provided us with a meal experience unlike any other.

Next time you're in New Smyrna Beach you absolutely must pay a visit to Flip Flops. While you're there be certain to tell Chef Danny and Chef Erik that The Cheap Gourmet sent you!