Sawgrass Marriott kicks off weekly Sunday brunch

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A new Sunday brunch is the latest initiative launched by the culinary team at the Sawgrass Marriott Golf Resort & Spa in Ponte Vedra Beach.

Held at Vernon’s Restaurant from 11 a.m. to 2 p.m., the weekly event features a different theme each Sunday, allowing patrons to experience a variety of tastes and experiences at one single venue.

“You’re going to get a different feel but the same restaurant,” said Tanya White, assistant sous chef at the Marriott who has been tasked with leading the brunch efforts. “You don’t have to travel all over town. Right at your front door, you have the opportunity to ‘travel’ all over the world.”

The brunch kicked off this past Sunday, July 8 with a “Soul Food Sunday” theme, including dishes such as hummingbird pancakes, sawgrass smokers beef brisket, buttermilk fried chicken and more. The theme for this upcoming Sunday, July 15 is “Art and Jazz,” which White said will feature a “bayou feel,” incorporating seafood into many of the dishes. The brunch on July 22 will have a “Farm to Table” theme, and the event July 29 will feature a “Chef’s Choice” theme to allow guests to learn more about who’s behind the scenes.

The weekly brunch also includes live music and a children’s buffet and activity to help families enjoy the experience. In addition, local vendors who support the event attend to provide guests with more information about their respective offerings.

“It feels like an upscale famers market,” White said. “It gives the local people the opportunity to see the things that are in your area.”

The brunch buffet costs $25 or $34 for the buffet and bottomless brunch drinks. For children under 12, the kids brunch buffet is $8.50. Prices do not include tax and gratuity, and 18 percent gratuity is added to parties of six or more.

Reservations can be made by calling (904) 280-3405 or by visiting https://www.opentable.com/vernons-restaurant?page=1.

Sustainable sourcing

Several of the ingredients used in the Sawgrass Marriott’s new brunch are sourced directly from the resort’s grounds, thanks in large part to the efforts of the hotel’s new lead beekeeper, Matt Sanchez.

The first lead beekeeper ever appointed at Marriott International, Sanchez manages 13 active hives in a patch of woods behind the resort’s spa and right before the villas. Only accessible by golf cart, the piece of land that houses the hives sits on a hill about 20 feet from the road. Once overgrown, the area is now cleared after two years of landscaping work and maintenance by Sanchez. Adjacent to the bee colonies, Sanchez also manages a garden of crops ranging from datil peppers to tomatoes to brussels sprouts.

“The bees and plants are two sides of the same coin,” said Sanchez, who previously served as an omelet chef and officially assumed the beekeeper title in the spring. “They (the plants) feed the bees. The bees pollinate and live off the nectar. (They’re) completely interconnected.”

Both the honey from the bees and the crops from the garden are used in the brunch, as well as in many of the resort’s other culinary offerings.

In the same general area, Sanchez also manages a chicken coop and a quail run. The culinary team is not currently using their eggs, as the resort is awaiting necessary permitting and licensing to do so. But they’re certainly part of the long-term plan and are now being used in different ways, Sanchez said.

“The chickens and quail dovetail with the bees,” Sanchez said. “When the bees fight certain parasites, I’ll give frames to the chickens. The chickens will clean the parasites off. There’s this entire chain.”

Sanchez also noted that the area is home to a compost bed that regenerates the soil that is used to plant the crops. Other examples of the resort’s sustainable practices include a citrus grove by the spa, another garden by Alice & Pete’s and 11 hydroponic towers, among others.

“We’re on the cutting edge of a lot of stuff,” Sanchez said. “This is bigger than me. … it’s a great feeling to be a part of something bigger.”

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