In the Kitchen with Savorez’s Sam Cahoon
written by Becky Starkey | photos by Drewe Smith
Wilmington is host to many restaurants. So many that I keep a bucket list on my phone to refer to every time I’m in the mood to try something new. So when I heard Sam Cahoon had opened his own place downtown serving Latin American inspired cuisine, there I was updating my bucket list again. Savorez, located in the former Flying Pi location, is, in Sam’s words, “a small, hole-in-the-wall restaurant that packs a lot of heat.” Although he’d always dreamed of opening his own restaurant, it took a former work situation gone wrong and finding the right location to really get the wheels turning.
After hearing rave reviews, Focus on the Coast caught up with Same to learn more about Savorez and the man behind it all. And to eat some lobster ceviche, of course.
Let’s get the important stuff out of the way. What’s your sign?
What are you most excited about when it comes to opening Savorez?
There is no better feeling than being your own boss. It requires A LOT of sacrifice, work, dedication, and discipline, but it is so worth it. It’s also great seeing my people grow and get a chance to show what they’ve got.
Describe the cuisine in three words:
Delicious, fresh, and colorful.
What’s your favorite music to cook to?
Lil Wayne, Jay Z, and Transplants.
Name 3-5 kitchen tools you can’t live without?
A good knife, good tongs, a DRY rag, a whisk, and a spoon.
What items are always in your refrigerator?
Personally? Texas Pete, eggs, cereal, milk, and bananas.
Keith Rhodes would be a huge collaboration. There’s been talks… hopefully something will happen soon. Honestly, I would love to collaborate with Josh Petty, Brian Williams, Drew Loesche, and Pete Baxely; the chefs that taught me my ways before I had found my ways. It would be great! One day, Aldo and I will have a collaboration, once he’s established himself as a chef. Brad Royal and Danny Flanders are both guys I went to culinary school with, and it is exciting seeing them grow. I cant wait to do a dinner with them as well.
What was the first dish you ever burnt?
Asiago Pasta at Bennigan’s.
Favorite Netflix binge:
Dragonball Z, Bleach, Walking Dead
What’s the menu for your last meal?
Hmmm… Tough one, because I love food! Fried chicken wings & ranch for the first course. Lobster, asparagus, potato hash, and bernaise for the second course and chocolate pot de crème with chocolate ganache and fruit for dessert.
Who is your support system?
Where to begin? My family! Larry and Reen Cahoon aka “Dad and Mom” are the “investors.” Hopefully that will quiet all the silly rumors about my “multiple backers.” My little brother, Christian Cahoon aka Big Cat, is the MVP. Technically, he is one of our FOH managers, but at anytime you can see him cooking in the kitchen as well, a jack of all trades.
NONE of this is possible without ALDO GARCIA. My best friend, right hand man, sous chef. He found the location, helped put everything in place, and keeps me grounded. He does it all! I can not give him enough credit for everything he has done.
Adrianna Carter, aka Queen, is the one keeping us other three organized and focused. She’s new to the team, but her influence has been tremendous already.
Gus Miller comes off the bench from time to time, Danny Flanders came in huge, Collin, Jim and Mike have all adapted well. Spencer Tolan and Rhett Coleman were huge helps in building the bar, tables, walls, the stuff a silly little chef like me doesn’t really know how to do. I’m luckily a born and raised Wilmingtonian, so there has been support from all over the community; family, friends, co workers, the list goes on and on. A lot of my staff has worked with me at previous restaurants, it’s how we were able to get everything going so quickly. This is my home, so word spread quickly once things got rolling.
Best cooking advice you ever received:
Just be yourself. Some people won’t be able to handle it, but be true to yourself.
Find the recipe for Sam’s delicious Lobster Ceviche below or pop in to the restaurant to try one of Savorez’s many other dishes. You can find a seat Monday through Friday from 11:30am-10pm, Saturdays 12pm-10pm, and Sundays 10am to 2pm. To see the full menu, head over to savorez.com. You can also follow them on Facebook and Instagram for updates!