Doug Turbush did not have to look far to find the staff he wanted for his newest restaurant, Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar. The chef/restaurateur has stocked his forthcoming East Cobb seafood concept with longtime team members Brendan Keenan, Jason Raymond and Jose Pereiro, who all previously contributed to his other Marietta restaurants, Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar. Although they have very different backgrounds within the hospitality industry, this management staff shares a very important trait with their respected leader: a passion for providing impeccable service and introducing guests to new culinary experiences.
Brendan Keenan has been serving as chef de cuisine at Turbush’s Marietta restaurants since 2011. A graduate of the Culinary Institute of America in New York, his formative years were spent out West learning from some of the industry’s top talents, like James Beard Award-winning chefs Michael Mina at Aqua and Julian Serrano at Masa’s in San Francisco. A move to Atlanta brought Keenan to Woodfire Grill, The Sound Table and Bluepointe, which is where he first met Turbush and later reconnected for the opening of Seed.
“I have known Brendan for many years, and I trust him implicitly not only for his ability to create dishes that are both approachable and exciting, but also for his commitment to trying new techniques and flavors,” says Turbush. “From the very start, Brendan has been a major component of the high-quality dining experience that has made Seed and Stem successful.”
Turbush and Keenan plan to showcase the best seafood species that the East and Gulf Coasts have to offer at Drift. The menu of creative seafood dishes includes shareable plates and raw bar items as well as larger-format entrées. Offerings range from oven-roasted clams, chilled seafood platters and a selection of crudos to a variety of po’ boys and lobster rolls and entrées such as wood-grilled whole fish and rib-eye. Keenan also plans to put a new twist on classic seafood dishes like oysters Rockefeller and will use his extensive travels as inspiration for creating exotic flavor profiles and playful nightly specials at the new restaurant.
Joining Keenan in executing Turbush’s vision of a chef-driven restaurant with an approachable menu, modern cocktails and craft beer and wine are director of operations Jason Raymond and bar manager Jose Pereiro.
Raymond was born into hospitality management – his parents were restaurant owners – and also gets to indulge in his passion for wine as Drift’s sommelier. Raymond says, “Training staff in the ways of genuine hospitality is very rewarding. I also love the entertainment value of wine; the way it brings people together.”
Raymond’s formal hospitality career began in 2002 after he earned a bachelor’s degree in hotel management and a master’s degree from Switzerland’s Centre International de Glion. He spent three years as a private dining and restaurant manager at the Boca Raton Resort & Club in West Palm Beach, Florida, before moving to The Breakers, where he discovered his passion for wine under the tutelage of master sommelier Virginia Philip. “That’s really where I fell in love with wine,” he says.
In 2008, Raymond opened the City Fish Market in Boca Raton for the Buckhead Life Group before relocating to Atlanta to become the beverage manager for Bluepointe. A year later, he was hired by Turbush and finally got the opportunity to combine his management experience with his knowledge of wine as general manager and sommelier for Seed Kitchen & Bar and Stem Wine Bar.
At Drift, Raymond plans to focus on whites and lighter reds to complement the seafood, along with “some really cool sparkling wines by the glass,” he says.
Complementing Raymond’s passion for wine is bar manager Jose Pereiro’s fervor for the art of mixology. He became acquainted with the hospitality industry while bartending in Venezuela. In 2006, he moved to the United States and began working at Rosa Mexicano in Atlanta, where his manager soon recognized Pereiro’s strong knowledge of and passion for spirits and placed him in a head bartender role at the restaurant’s new Miami location. Once in Miami, Pereiro became an active member of the craft cocktail scene, joining the U.S. Bartender’s Guild and participating in bartending competitions.
He continued to hone his craft cocktail knowledge and soon joined the bartending staff at Seed Kitchen & Bar. The cocktails he crafted for the Marietta restaurant won first place at the 2012 Remy V cocktail competition and the 2014 Fernet-Branca cocktail competition in Miami as well as the 2015 Ketel One Master of the Mule competition in Atlanta.
Pereiro is now bringing his talents to Drift, developing a complex craft cocktail program built around top-notch spirits and ingredients of the same superb quality as those found in the restaurant’s cuisine.
Drift’s menu, which Turbush crafted with executive chef Brendan Keenan, is an mix of shareable plates, raw bar favorites and a variety of seafood inspired entrées. There is an array of eight varieties of raw oysters, including Kumamoto from Washington, Beausoleil from Canada, Island Creek from Massachusetts, and Murder Point from Alabama. Dinner offerings range from Portuguese fish stew and Carolina trout with bánh mì flavors to seafood po’ boys and lobster rolls. Guests will want to start with crab beignets or Blue Hill Bay mussels and end with a French silk pie or pineapple upside down cake with homemade rum raisin ice cream from pastry chef Addison Dudek.
Drift Fish House & Oyster Bar opens at The Avenue East Cobb on Sunday, Feb. 28.