When it comes to down-and-dirty eating, chicken wings and crab legs have met their match with seafood boils. They are hot, buttery, drizzled with lemon juice and covered in a fiery red dusting of seafood spices. It’s frowned upon to dive into a seafood boil with utensils, too; when the pot’s contents are dumped onto a table, that’s diners’ cue to pick apart the crabs, sink their teeth into a corn cob and save the clean-up and manners for later.
The resurgence of this Cajun-inspired dish is sweeping the East Coast and recently arrived in Virginia Beach by way of Outer Banks Boil Company, a professional kitchen that preps “You Steam” signature boils in take-home pots. The Red Mill-based operation opened its doors in April 2021, becoming the second franchise location in the state.
Spearheading the alternative dining experience are co-owners Kyle Vrhovac, Parker Byrd and Evan Verbeek, a Virginia Beach native. The trio follows in the footsteps of Boil Company’s founder, Matt Khouri, and focuses less on seafood boils’ Cajun roots and instead infuses flavors familiar to local palates.
“All of our signature seafood boils begin with a base of locally sourced sweet corn, authentic Andouille sausage, red bliss potatoes, Vidalia onion and a half-pound of jumbo shrimp per person. We also provide customers with butter, lemons and our house-made seasonings and cocktail sauce,” says Verbeek.
While the ingredients of the Boil Company’s cocktail sauce and seasoning mixes remain highly secretive, Verbeek hints at tastes reminiscent of Old Bay, but with less salt and more spice.
“Without giving away all our secrets, the floral fragrances of the bay leaves in our spice bag and a fresh squeeze of lemon are my favorites,” adds Verbeek. “If you’re looking to really spice up your pot, we offer our extra hot or lemony seasonings, too.”
At Outer Banks Boil Company, you can enhance the signature pot’s symphony of summer flavors with shellfish additions like snow crab, lobster tails, clams and mussels. “Having lived in Coastal Virginia my entire life, the local aspect of being a small business owner is extremely important to me. All of our produce is sourced through a local vendor, and we source certain seafood locally whenever we can,” says Verbeek.
With local picking seasons right around the corner, Verbeek and his team are ready for summer parties. “We now offer delivery services to the Sandbridge area and a full-service ‘We Steam’ catering service,” explains Verbeek.
“We bring the party to you. We arrive with plenty of time to set up the dining area as well as our cooking space. We cook the Signature Seafood Boil on site and serve the food hot to guests. Afterwards, we take care of all the cleanup and break down.”
Verbeek notes that seafood boils aren’t just for backyard bashes, but for relaxing nights at home too. For budding chefs wanting to concoct their own boils, we’ve rounded up the best ways to do so:
How to Boil with the Best of Them
Fresh is best.
Gathering boil ingredients from farmers markets is not only a great way to support local businesses, but to ensure you cook with the highest-quality produce and seafood possible. The foods’ natural flavors will shine brighter than their canned and frozen counterparts.
Spice is nice.
The list of popular spices to incorporate into seafood boils far surpasses a dozen, so this is your chance to get creative. Experiment with lemon pepper, chili flakes, celery seeds or ginger powder to create your perfect blend. If you want to play it safe, Outer Banks Boil Company packages and sells its house blend in store.
Savor the side dish.
Consider classic summer sides like fruit salad, hush puppies and baked beans. “We offer a North Carolina-style barbecue option that includes creamy coleslaw, cornbread muffins and key lime pie for dessert,” says Verbeek.
Learn more about Outer Banks Boil Company at OuterBanksBoilCompany.com.