Interview with Florida Keys Chef Bobby Stoky of Marker 88
Islamorada’s Marker 88 is owned and operated by Upper Keys chef Bobby Stoky, who also owns four other Upper Keys restaurants. Marker 88 has been open since 1967 offering beachside dining and some of the Keys’ freshest seafood. "It's hard balancing the running of multiple restaurants with my love of cooking, but I still try to get in the kitchen as much as possible, and our catering operations given me the best opportunity these days to do that,” Stoky Told us. “Our job in the kitchen is to make the customer's day!” Here’s what else Story had to say.
The Daily Meal: How did you get into cooking? What were your early influences?
Chef Bobby Stoky: As a kid, my father was a charter boat captain in Islamorada, in the Florida Keys, and we ran our business out of our house. So every day, we would have fresh fish caught by his charter that day. At the end of the day, my father would often offer to cook the catch for his customers in our home, so my brother and I would be expected to help prepare the dinner. We always had amazing fresh product to work with, whether it was fresh shrimp, lobster, conch, Mahi Mahi, yellowtail, snapper, or hog fish. The food was always fresh and always caught that day.
Do you have a specialty, a special dish?
Wow. I prepare so many types of food and I like just about everything so it’s really tough for me to choose. Though I would have to say that through our catering company, the dishes of mine that are the most requested are the southern pickled shrimp, onion encrusted hogfish with fresh mango salsa and Key lime butter, and of course Key lime pie!
What kind of an atmosphere do you like and seek to maintain in the kitchen? How do you achieve and preserve it in the kitchen?
In each of my kitchens, we have an atmosphere of mutual respect and hard work with a focus on putting out the best possible result for our customers. Each person in the kitchen knows that their job at the end of the day is to make the customer’s day.
I understand that you own several restaurants. Why are you still cooking?
It’s hard balancing the running of multiple restaurants with my love of cooking, but I try to get in to the kitchen as much as possible. While it’s our catering operations that give me the best opportunity to get back in the kitchen these days, I still try to pop in to the kitchens of our various restaurants whenever I get the opportunity. If only to keep our restaurant chefs on their toes!
What are your hopes and plans for the future?
The restaurant business is in my blood and my family has restaurants from Texas to Islamorada. We have plans to open at least two more restaurants in Texas that serve fresh Florida Keys style seafood. Even though we’re expanding, the focus will still be providing the best possible experiences for our customers and the freshest ingredients possible.