Kitchen Confidential: Jeff Achertoff, Blue Light Grill


Jeff Achertoff with his shrimp and grits.

The secret to great cooking is... creativity. Anybody can follow a recipe and have it turn out pretty decent. The key is taking a creative spin on things you've learned.

The secret to success in the restaurant business is... a strong work ethic. Otherwise, you're stuck as a line cook, and you'll never move up.

The secret to making Blue Light Grill's shrimp and grits is... keep it simple. My motto is, it's not like we're saving babies; we're just cooking food.

Blue Light Grill's shrimp and grits

2 cups stone-ground grits

6 cups milk

2 cups heavy cream

1 cup extra sharp cheddar

6 shrimp per person

1 lb. of your favorite sausage (hot, mild, sweet, chicken, pork, fish, etc...)

2 cups white wine (once again, use one you like)

1 yellow pepper julienne

1 red pepper julienne

2 tablespoons minced shallot or red onion

2 tablespoons minced garlic

one fresh lemon

1/3 lb. unsalted butter

salt and pepper to taste


In a larger sauce pan, bring the milk and heavy cream to a boil. Stir in the grits and bring back up to a boil. Once the grits are bubbling, drop heat down to a simmer and cover and let sit for 30 minutes. You can make these grits ahead of time. Let cool to room temp. or cool overnight. 

Cut all of the remaining ingredients and set to the side.

Bring up a large skillet to high heat. Test by dropping a tab of butter to see if it smokes. When hot enough place shrimp, in and cook until pink. 

Add a touch of oil in pan and add all vegetables. Cook for one minute then add your sausage. Cook for another 2-3 minutes until sausage is hot. Add wine and reduce to 1/3 of a cup.(Just eyeball it) Slowly whisk in the butter. Place the shrimp back into mixture and toss it to coat. 

Heat up grits and add cheese and more milk (I use cream... I am not worried about my girlish figure)

Place grits in bowl or plate and divide up the shrimp. Top off with the sausage and sauce. 

Serve with a lemon wedge and squeeze just before eating. This makes a great breakfast, brunch, lunch or dinner. I've even made this at 2 in the morning when I'm getting home from work. Enjoy.