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Talking With: Executive Chef Shane Quinlan in Watersound, FL

On a recent visit to Watersound, Florida, we sat around a kitchen island and watched as Executive Chef Shane Quinlan of St. Joe Club and Resorts prepared our dinner. The menu was Seared Rare Yellowfin Tuna and Watermelon, the signature dish of the WaterSound Beach Club.

The lightly blackened tuna was seared rare, fanned on the plate with squares of juicy seedless watermelon. They were laid atop a soy glaze and dolloped with wasabi aioli. Mounds of baby arugula were lightly dressed with a sweet chili vinaigrette. The result was a delectable combination of flavors and textures, from spicy to sugary and from creamy to crunchy. Precisely the objective of Chef Quinlan.

Here are the basic ingredients:

The basic ingredients for our tuna and watermelon dinner

Chef Quinlan created a proprietary spice blend to lightly blacken the tuna, which is seared over an open flame.


Sous Chef Shane Hayes readied the salad. The vinaigrette is a smooth blend of soy sauce, rice wine vinegar, sweet chili sauce, fish sauce and cilantro.

“Lightly coat the arugula,” Chef Quinlan said. “You want it to be just enough to season but not too much.”


Then came the assembly, orchid included. How to get those perfect cubes of watermelon? Peel the melon first, then square it off.


And for dessert: Key lime pie with vanilla mousse whipped cream.

Key lime pie with fresh whipped cream and lime swirl

“Our culinary term of the day is ‘umani,’” Chef Quinlan said. “It’s a Japanese word. My take on it is umani is the feeling of satisfaction when you are eating.”

We agree. Our meal was one of those deserving not only of photographs but lifelong memories. Cheers to the chefs.


Executive Chef Shane Quinlan, St. Joe Club and Resorts


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