Among the many talents of the intrepid Sophie Hollingsworth, creating urban fire feasts is one we might all be brave enough to try. Hollingsworth, who was born in Sarasota and attended Pine View, holds a 200-ton captain’s license, is a Fulbright scholar, founded the nonprofit AquaAid International to bring clean drinking water to remote villages, and has a passion for off-the-beaten-track travel.
It was during a solo trip in the Australian Outback that Hollingsworth, 25, began to cook feasts over an open fire. “I didn’t want to take freeze-dried meats and I wanted to eat well,” she says. “I also had a lot of time at night to be creative.”
Hollingsworth now splits her time between Australia and Sarasota while continuing traveling the world as an environmental consultant. Somehow she found the time to start A Taste for Adventure catering to bring her inventive cooking—as if “Indiana Jones and Martha Stewart threw a dinner party,” she says—to birthday parties, weddings and corporate retreats. Hollingsworth confines her catering to cooking over open fires using spits, tripods and native foliage. Her website shows hanging pineapples roasting over a searing fire, seaweed butter scallops grilling on embers and smoked bacon strips draped over sticks.
In Sarasota, Hollingsworth decided to make a meal of snapper on a stick. You can try it yourself, but having Hollingsworth cook it for you would make it a real adventure. Visit sophiehollingsworth.com for more information.
Small to medium-sized Gulf snapper, gutted, scaled and left whole
2-3 lemon slices per fish, sliced thin
2-3 onion slices per fish, sliced thin
Handful of lemon bay leaves or leaves from a citrus tree – one handful per fish
Salt and pepper
Matches, firewood, oak wood or citrus sticks (one per fish), trussing string, small hand shovel
- Using the matches and firewood, light a fire and let it burn down to a medium heat.
- Prepare the snapper. Stuff the cavity of the snapper with the lemon and onion slices, and bay or citrus leaves, then sprinkle with a pinch of salt and pepper.
- Run the citrus or oak wood stick up the cavity and out the mouth of the snapper. Use trussing string to secure the fish to the stick and to prevent the lemons, onions, and lemon bay or citrus leaves from falling out. Repeat for each fish.
- Use the shovel to dig a series of holes in the ground, approximately 6 inches to 1 foot from the fire. Insert each stick into a hole. For added stability, build sand or dirt mounds around each stick.
- Cook fish for approximately 10 minutes per side. Cooking times can vary. The snapper is done when you can peel back the crispy skin to reveal tender meat about to fall off the bone.
- Serve hot with lemon wedges and a fresh salad. Each fish feeds 1-2 people.