He came during an exceptionally nasty winter in 1977, from Columbus, Ohio. His intent was an extended vacation, but Mark Keckstein is still here. He found not only a home but a much-loved career in the kitchen of Euphemia Haye, on Longboat Key.
One of his friends was washing dishes at Euphemia Haye and couldn’t make it in one day.
Keckstein covered for him, and he attracted the attention of then-owner Les Buntin, who started teaching him to cook. When Ray and D’Arcy Arpke bought the restaurant in 1980, they continued his education, and, today, Keckstein is chef de cuisine.
“He is most familiar with Ray’s standards and expectations,” D’Arcy Arpke says. “We are so fortunate that we can rely on him to manage the kitchen staff, products and, most importantly, the consistency the way that he does.”
Fittingly, Keckstein has also become a teacher in the Manatee Technical Institute Culinary Arts Program, for which he oversees the student-run, fine-dining restaurant, The Bistro. The Arpkes have been on the advisory board for this program since its inception, and Euphemia Haye is putting on a feast for this year’s graduating class. The menu features seared quail on nutted quinoa and sliced lamb loin on truffle-oil mashed roots. (About 20 reservations are available to the public at $120 per person for the five-course spectacular with wine pairings. Call 383-3633 to reserve your spot.)
Euphemia Haye is known for more than fine cuisine. There is the upstairs Haye Loft for guests who prefer a more casual menu and where all gather for dessert. In the summer, the Haye Loft offers a prix-fixe dinner for $35 from 6 to 9 p.m. Sunday through Thursday. The prix-fixe menu includes five appetizer choices, including the celebrated Caesar salad; five entrées, including the equally famous roasted duckling; and five desserts, including apple walnut crumble pie (recipe below). Smaller portions are served for the prix-fixe menu, but there is plenty to eat, and the price is right. The duckling is $38.50 on the regular menu.
Euphemia Haye Restaurant – The Haye Loft
Address: 5540 Gulf of Mexico Drive, Longboat Key
Hours: 6 to 11 p.m. Monday through Friday and Sunday; 5 to 11 p.m. Saturday
Owners: Ray and D’Arcy Arpke
Apple walnut crumble pie
Yield: One 10-inch tart (nine servings in the restaurant)
2 1/4 cups cake flour
1/4 cup vegetable shortening or lard
1/2 cup unsalted butter, cut in pieces
1/2 teaspoon salt
1/3 cup ice water
Place the cake flour, vegetable shortening, butter and salt in a stainless-steel bowl. Cut the vegetable shortening and butter into the cake flour, until the entire content has a mealy consistency. Add ice water and mix with your fingers, forming dough. Form a ball with the dough. Flatten the ball with your hands and place on a well-floured flat surface. Flour the top of the dough well, and roll out into about a 13- to 14-inch round. Place the dough into a floured 10-inch pie pan. Flute the edge.
Apple walnut filling
1 1/2 cups walnuts, chopped
1/2 teaspoon cinnamon
1 dash ground nutmeg
1 dash clove
1 dash ground ginger
1 dash ground allspice
1 1/2 cups sugar
12 cups, or 3 pounds, of 1/2-inch Granny Smith apple slices (free of peel and seeds)
1 tablespoon flour
Place prepared apples in a non-reactive bowl. Sprinkle the walnuts, spices and sugar over the top. Toss the apple mixture, and mix well. Add the flour and toss well, again. Let mixture rest for 10 minutes. Toss well, again. Mound the apple mixture in the pie shell. Top all of the apples with “crumble,” so they are completely covered. Bake at 350 degrees for one hour and 10 minutes to one hour and 20 minutes, or until baked through and browned evenly. If the crumble topping is browning too fast, cover with foil until almost done.
1/2 pound butter, soft
1/2 pound sugar
1 pound cake flour
Vanilla to taste
Combine all ingredients in a mixer with the paddle in place. Mix at low speed until large “crumbles” form. Cool and reserve.