Apr 04

Chat with Chef: Artisan Menu Options at Coral Market

My fellow Foodies, I think I’ve established well enough in my previous posts that I’m a BIG fan of bread. At the mere mention of the word, I light up. You can imagine, then, my excitement at Executive Chef Axel Dirolf’s invitation to lunch at SeaWorld San Diego’s newest eatery, Coral Market, home to delicious and savory artisan menu options!

But first, let’s talk about Coral Market’s playful and colorful undersea realm theme. They (whoever “they” are) say that pictures are worth a thousand words; well, fellow Foodies, mine are worth more, and they can speak for themselves, as you’ll see below.

Located at our newest attraction, Explorer’s Reef™, the design of Coral Market NEVER ceases to amaze me. “It’s important for us to make a culinary entrance statement,” said Chef Axel as we approached the eatery. And boy, he wasn’t kidding. Statement made!

How cool is this rock structure? (VERY!)

Check out the menu board with the jellyfish details!

One of the things I like about Coral Market is its open air market-style concept, which gives our team members and baristas the opportunity to connect even more with park guests.

If you were to ask Chef Axel about the idea behind Coral Market, he’d tell you that it’s a “grab-and-go style”. Let me break it down for you:

You’ve just arrived at the park, and you’re super excited to start your day of exploring. You’re looking for a bite to eat – and not just any bite, mind you – you want something warm and freshly-made that will fill you up as you power through the early part of your day here at SeaWorld. You want to be empowered with an array of menu options. You want familiar flavors presented in a fresh and bold way that pleasantly surprises you down to the very last bite. But you also want to be able to enjoy it as you’re walking around SeaWorld, or perhaps even at the first show of the day. (Oh, and you also want your cup of coffee.)

That’s where Coral Market comes in, fellow Foodies.

Chef Axel’s vision for this new eatery is to empower guests with choice: The choice to select their own sandwich or baguette, to accompany their meal with a pastry or a selection of fresh fruits, with their options presented right in front of them.

Executive Chef Axel Dirolf shows some of the menu items available at Coral Market.

The B.L.T.

I had always wondered about Chef Axel’s process of putting the menus together for the eateries here at the park, so I asked him how he decided on what types of sandwiches and baguettes to feature at Coral Market. “We want to show what guests crave these days, and it’s a turkey and cheese baguette,” he said. “We also want to show our California roots, which is why we have the jalapeño torta with our Baja chicken and pepper jack cheese.”

Mmm, Baja chicken. “The spices and marinade are influenced by our region,” Chef Axel added.

All this talk about food made me hungry (what’s new?), so Chef Axel walked me through the process of how an order is prepared and served at Coral Market. “If you like a freshly-baked baguette, we’ll prepare it for you,” said Chef Axel. And fellow Foodies, you refers to YOU!

Now, if you’re looking for a filling meal, I’d suggest a sandwich or a baguette:

Sandwich Options
Turkey and Cheese
Egg Salad
Spicy Tuna Sandwich

Baguette Options
Turkey and Cheese
Baja Chicken Jalapeño Torta
Breakfast Baguette

“If you feel like breakfast all day, we have a breakfast baguette with turkey and cheese,” said Chef Axel. “It also has a secret sauce.”

SOLD! I am a firm believer that breakfast foods are good ANY time of the day (and I needed an excuse to eat breakfast for lunch), so I opted for the breakfast baguette. Chef Axel readied my order to be warmed up in the oven. While waiting, I snapped a picture of the turkey and cheese baguette that a team member was preparing for a guest’s order.

Turkey and cheese baguette, fresh from the oven.

Chef Axel clued me into some really cool information about the sandwiches and baguettes at Coral Market: Everything is prepared from scratch – yes, from scratch – here at the park, every day. “They are all artisan-made. We have artists in our bakery, too,” he said. “We create crunch and texture.”

Not your regular theme park food, fellow Foodies. But then again, our park is not a regular theme park, and our menu options reflect that.

My breakfast baguette’s 30 seconds in the oven were up, and I was amped to get right to it.

What a behemoth! P.S. Love the 50th Celebration packaging!

Check out the bread. THE BREAD! And the omelet. THE OMELET! Breakfast for lunch – I’m in heaven!

*Please excuse me while I salivate over this appetizing meal.*

I was so impressed at how all the ingredients came together. I’m not one who likes sauces in sandwiches or burgers, but I did enjoy the secret sauce in this baguette. The thick slices of turkey made for a succulent treat in every bite. The peppers, coupled with the secret sauce, added just the right amount of spicy kick.

There’s so much to share about this amazing and empowering new eatery here at the park. Check out the pastry and dessert selections as well:

Look at the size of this cookie.

I'm always inspired by the creativity of our culinary team members!

An Explorer's Reef-inspired candied apple!

I could spend all day exploring Coral Market’s amazing selection of delicious and savory artisan menu options. I highly, HIGHLY recommend that you check it out on your next visit to the park. I guarantee that you will be impressed!

For now… stay tuned for the next “Chat with Chef!”