Matt Djerf still sees him, still hears him. He still turns his head, waiting for his friend and his boss, Shannon Yates, to march down the hallway at Nevermind Awesome Bar & Eatery, wearing his trademark clogs. Yates, the former owner, and head chef, unexpectedly passed away in August. Now, Djerf will build on Yates’ legacy as the new head chef at the popular downtown restaurant.
Djerf recently started his new duties, continuing a journey in the restaurant business that Yates inspired.
“I worked with Shannon for nine years,” Djerf said. “These are surely big shoes to fill. It is strange to be here, and he is not there.”
The Cape Coral native started as a dishwasher at Nevermind when Yates opened the business nine years ago. Djerf had zero interest in the food industry, but he needed a job, and Yates needed kitchen staff. At the time, Yates wasn’t sure how his fledgling restaurant would fly, and to start, he paid Djerf in beer.
Soon, Djerf was preparing food, operating the frier and then the grill. Then came a life-changing trip with Yates to New York over the Fourth of July holiday.
Djerf and Yates visited famous eateries, dined on the works of world-renowned chefs. It was the experience of a lifetime for Djerf, who left there knowing food was his destiny.
“It was my best four days ever,” he said.
For a brief time during the pandemic, Djerf left Nevermind to work for Lee Richardson at LeRoy’s Southern Kitchen & Bar in Punta Gorda. Now, the Ida Baker High School graduate looks forward to continuing Yates’ vision of providing unique dishes and his legacy as a community and business supporter.
“We will keep the same lamb burgers, crab rolls, and wings, but we will bring in some salads and different pasta dishes,” the 32-year-old Djerf said.
They also will introduce flatbreads to the menu. “That was something (Shannon) wanted before he passed.
“It’s his energy and his passion. He knows that quality. He feels it, he loves it,” said Yates’ close friend, Dewey Sanders, about the new chef. “That was Shannon’s biggest thing – that passion. “(Matt) is going to take Nevermind where (Shannon) wanted it to go.”
Djerf also wants to continue Yates’ tradition of bringing in guest chefs from other restaurants.
“Shannon was a genius when it came to marketing,” Djerf said. “He would market other people because he wanted their businesses to do well. He put Cape Coral on the map with good food.”
Sometimes, all it takes is a taste of home to unlock the warm, familiar feelings of being with loved ones. We continue to savor each bite of grandma’s famous casserole as if it were the first time.
These special recipes are the ones we save over the years. Whether scribbled down on a piece of torn notebook paper or recited by memory, every family seems to have their favorite go-to meals.
It’s what inspired Gulf Coast Village, a continuing care community in Cape Coral, to publish their own best crowd-pleasing dishes and dessert recipes from senior residents’.
“It’s a piece of their past written down on paper,” said Bill Djerf, an independent living resident and president of the resident council at Gulf Coast Village. “It’s a recipe that warms their heart and brings back good memories.”
Djerf is a firm believer that the way to a person’s heart is through their stomach.
When he mentioned the idea of collecting recipes for a community cookbook, the residents, staff members and volunteers were excited to share their most cherished family meals.
“Younger staff and volunteers would sometimes say, this looks so good, or I’d like to cook this,” Djerf adds. “The older residents would then tell them about their family recipe they used to bake all the time that they learned from their mother.”
In a matter of months, Djerf and a small team gathered up 230 recipes and sent them to get published as their first Gulf Coast Village cookbook.
When life gives you lemons, make lemon meringue pie
Lemon Meringue Pie | Resident Dewie Robinson
1 – 9” pastry pie shell 2 ¼ cup – Boiling water
1 ½ cup – Sugar 3 – Egg yolks, beaten
6 Tbsp – Corn starch 1 Tbsp – Butter
1 Tbsp – Flour 1 tsp – Lemon peel, grated
½ tsp – Salt 3 Tbsp – Lemon juice
3 – Egg whites 6 Tbsp – Sugar
Good food has a way of bringing people together. We can feel immersed in exciting, new cultures or transported back to our fondest memories.
The best cookbooks are exactly the same. They can be our life manuals.
Inside Gulf Coast Village’s cookbook, Our Favorite Recipes, people find more than just delicious homecooked meals.
“I sold several books just because of the helpful hints in each section,” said Djerf. “I sold one to a lady who said she doesn’t cook, but she liked the helpful hints so much that she bought it for that.”
Between more than 100 pages of unique appetizers, dishes and desserts, each section is divided by a list of helpful tips.
For the main dish recipes section, the helpful hints include ‘one pound of boneless chicken equals approximately three cups’ and ‘scaling a fish is easier if vinegar is rubbed on the scales first.’
“A lot of gals say they bought it for their granddaughters and great granddaughters for the recipes, helpful hints and bonus pages in the back, which cover tips for things like baking bread,” added Djerf.
The last eight pages of the cookbook cover important pantry basics as well as tips for cooking measurements, terms and napkin folding.
Food for Thought
Icing will remain where you put it if you sprinkle the cake with powdered sugar first.
– Baking Perfect Cakes
From creating a community-inspired cookbook to popular resident cooking classes, it’s safe to say food plays a big part in life at Gulf Coast Village.
But creating the ultimate senior living experience is more than just food. It’s focusing on the unique, special needs of each individual.
That’s where the Gulf Coast Village Foundation comes in. Grouped into four areas of need – general, benevolent, educational and spiritual – each fund of the foundation helps improve the lives of residents within the senior community.
“The foundation provides a lot of things here for Gulf Coast Village. Just to name a few, they’ve bought specialized equipment for the care center, stuff for the gym and they just remodeled our café,” states Djerf.
Proceeds from each $15 cookbook goes towards the Gulf Coast Village Foundation and providing the best quality of life for older adults in Southwest Florida.
Girls Scouts are back in front of storefronts selling their famous cookies in Southwest Florida.
The COVID-19 pandemic forced cookie booths to close much earlier than expected last year, but Girl Scout troops will be back this year selling their cookies in front of storefronts while also trying to keep shoppers safe.
The Girl Scouts of Gulfcoast Florida saw about a 13% drop in sales last year because of the virus. This year called for a scaled-down operation of 20 booths instead of 80 or more.
Masks are now part of the Girl Scout uniform and hand sanitizer is front and center. And it’s contactless payment only.
A cookie finder on the Girl Scouts’ website lets consumers type in an address to locate the nearest booth. If you can’t find an in-person location nearby, you can still buy the coveted cookies online.
The Fort Myers Metro-McGregor Kiwanis has recruited 56 local restaurants in Lee County to offer dining discounts in a “Delicious Dining Discount” coupon book for $25. Most discounts are valid now through Nov. 15, 2019.
Now in its 11th year, the coupon book is the club’s largest fundraiser with all profits going back to help local children and the local community. Typically, the coupon is “Buy one entrée, get one of equal or lesser value, with the purchase of two beverages,” but some restrictions may be applied depending on the restaurant. Each coupon can only be redeemed one-time.