Food & Drink

Hugh Acheson’s Oysters Rockefeller

The Georgia chef shares his new Florida restaurant’s spin on the seafood classic

Photo: courtesy of ovide

If you ask Hugh Acheson, the perfect precursor to a seafood dinner is more seafood. At Ovide, his new restaurant inside the recently opened Hotel Effie in Miramar Beach, Florida, the appetizer menu reads like a sailor’s bounty: littleneck clams, snapper crudo, blue crab bisque, pickled shrimp salad, and oysters Rockefeller, a dish he describes as “spinach and oyster decadence.”  

Hugh Acheson.

A devotion to seafood is not new to Acheson, whose restaurants, including Empire State South in Atlanta and Five & Ten in Athens, Georgia, have garnered him six James Beard Award nominations over the years. “We use a lot of Gulf seafood at our other places, but it is nice to be so close to the source,” Acheson says of Ovide. “The Gulf is an abundant resource that needs to be taken care of, respected, and treasured. I just love the diversity of the fish offerings and the amazing fishing folk who bring us their catch.” 

When asked if he had any special tips for making the dish, he advised using the best oysters you can find, even if your kitchen isn’t beachfront. “And follow the recipe,” he says. “It works.”


  • Oysters Rockefeller (Yield: 4–6 servings)

    • 1 cup panko breadcrumbs

    • 2 tbsp. unsalted butter, melted

    • 1 tsp. kosher salt, plus more to taste

    • 4 tbsp. butter

    • 2 large shallots, minced

    • 2 celery ribs, minced

    • 1 small fennel bulb, minced

    • 4 garlic cloves, minced

    • 4 scallions, white and green parts divided, and thinly sliced

    • 2 tablespoons Pernod, or any similar anise-flavored liqueur

    • 4 tbsp. all-purpose flour

    • 1 cup heavy cream

    • 1½ tbsp. Worcestershire sauce

    • 1 tbsp. Frank’s hot sauce

    • 1½ cups frozen spinach, thawed, finely chopped, and excess water removed

    • 1 bunch watercress, washed and larger stems removed, finely chopped and wilted

    • 24 oysters, shells scrubbed, shucked, and left in the deep cup

    • Freshly ground black pepper, to taste

    • 8 cups of rock salt (aka ice cream salt)

    • 8 lemon wedges


  1. To make the buttered breadcrumbs, combine the breadcrumbs, 2 tbsp. of melted butter, and 1 tsp. kosher salt in a mixing bowl. Mix until the butter is evenly distributed. Set aside.

  2. Preheat the oven to 450°F. 

  3. In a medium saucepan, melt the remaining butter over medium heat until it starts to foam. Add the shallots, celery, fennel, garlic, scallion whites, and a generous pinch of salt. Cook the aromatics, stirring often, until they are tender, and have released all their liquid, about 10 minutes. Remove from the heat and add the Pernod. Return the pan to the heat and reduce it until it is almost dry. 

  4. Using a wooden spoon, stir in the flour, and cook the vegetable mixture for about 1–2 minutes. Switch to a small whisk, and whisk in half of the cream, making sure to incorporate all the flour into the cream and smooth out any flour lumps. Then whisk in the remaining cream, followed by the Worcestershire and hot sauce. 

  5. Next add the scallion tops, spinach, and watercress. Cook the mixture until hot and thickened. Season with kosher salt and freshly ground black pepper. Check the seasoning and transfer to a food processor and puree for about 30-45 seconds. Transfer to a bowl and set aside. 

  6. Line a rimmed baking sheet pan with half of the rock salt and gently nestle the oysters into the salt. This will be the foundation for the oysters and keep them from tipping over while cooking. Scoop about a tablespoon of Rockefeller sauce (depending on the oyster size) on top of the oyster. Then cover the top of sauce with 1-2 teaspoons of the buttered breadcrumbs.

  7. Place in the oven and roast until golden-brown, about 10-15 minutes. Meanwhile line a serving platter with the remaining rock salt. Remove from the oven and transfer the hot oysters to the salt lined platter. Gently nestle the oysters in the fresh rock salt. Serve with the lemon wedges and a vessel for the empty shells.