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Chef Elissa Oliver's Recipe for Blackened White Fish Over Hearts of Palm Puree

This month, we shine the spotlight on Atlanta Chef Elissa Oliver, Culinary Arts Instructor for Riverwood International Charter School.  Chef Oliver shares one of her signature recipes – Blackened White Fish Over Hearts of Palm Puree.

We invite you to follow along with Simply Amazing Living's Atlanta Chef series where we feature an Atlanta chef and one of their amazing and easy-to-make recipes that you can make at home.  Please check our website each month for recipes created by experts in the culinary field and pin the recipes to your Pinterest boards.  Don't miss Chef Kelley Hicks' recipe for Rustic Chicken Pot Pie and Chef Cynde Sterne's recipe for Miso Glazed Sea Bass.

Culinary Arts Instructor 

Chef Elissa Oliver is the Culinary Arts Instructor at Riverwood International Charter School (RICS) in Sandy Springs, Georgia. She began teaching at RICS in 2013 where she has received the Riverwood Faculty 212 award for Creativity and Student Advocacy, was a part of the team that won the 2019 Fulton County District 3 Garden Project Environmental Award for their school community garden, has been nominated for teacher of the year three times, has led a student Culinary team to National competition, and in 2020 won two of the highest awards in the culinary teaching industry – ProStart/ National Restaurant Association National Educator of Excellence Award for the state of Georgia and the 2020 ProStart/ National Restaurant Association Education Foundation Teacher of the Year for Best Practice and Knowledge Sharing for the United States.

Chef Oliver helped design the RICS new state-of-the-art 4,000 sq foot kitchen that opened for culinary classes at the school in fall 2019.  The high school kitchen/classroom is the largest in the school district with nine different stations equipped with top-of-the-line appliances and electronic kitchen equipment and features a state-of-the-art Kramer camera system to help with virtual teaching and creating training videos.

Riverwood International Charter School wins Nutrition Competition

Ava Murray, Riverwood Culinary Arts Instructor Elissa Oliver, Fernanda Guerrero, and Johnny Rodriguez were part of the winning team. (Riverwood International Charter School)

Culinary Class

Chef Oliver's culinary class is highly sought after and always has a waiting list to get in each school year.

We talked to a few of her past and current students and the overwhelming consensus is that she is a highly respected teacher who runs a tight ship both inside and outside the classroom.  The students believe that she brings a sense of comfort to the class that allows all students to be themselves and to speak freely. 

Chef Oliver recognizes that not all of her students will end up with a job in the culinary field, but they all have to eat and require necessary life skills.  She covers a wide variety of life lessons in her classes such as professionalism and employability skills in addition to cost control and managing household budgets. 

Chef Oliver and a team of her culinary class students won first prize in the 2019-20 Fulton High School Chef Competition for Nutrition for their “Chicken, Spinach, and Ricotta Calzone” recipe.

We asked Chef Oliver what makes a great teacher.

“I think a great teacher is prepared, involved, supportive and concerned for the different needs of students. I believe a great teacher is firm, consistent, fair, and provides opportunities outside the classroom. I also want to be a role model for all students and by having the characteristics of a great teacher I can achieve that.”
– Chef Elissa Oliver
Blackened White Fish over Hearts of Palm Puree Recipe

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Blackened White Fish over Hearts of Palm Puree,
Sauteed Green Beans, topped with Crispy Shallots

Yield:  2
Total Prep Time: 
20 minutes


Blackened Seasoning:

1 Heaping Tablespoon of Paprika
2 Teaspoons of Salt
1 Heaping Teaspoon of Onion Powder
¼ to ½ Teaspoon of Ground Cayenne Pepper
2 Teaspoons of Black Pepper
½ Teaspoon of Dried Leaf Thyme
½ Teaspoon of Dried Leaf Oregano


2 – 6 oz. Filets of White Fish (preferably Mahi Mahi)
1 Tablespoon of Butter
1 Tablespoon Canola Oil

Hearts of Palm Puree:

14 oz.Hearts of Palm (can), with Liquid
2 Small Garlic Cloves
½ Lemon, keeping Zest and Juice
Salt and Pepper (to Taste)

Green Beans:

5 oz. Fresh Skinny Green Beans
½ Tablespoon of Canola Oil
1 Garlic Clove, Sliced

Crispy Shallots:

1 Small Shallot
2 Tbsp. Cornstarch
1 cup Canola Oil
Salt and Pepper to taste

Step 1:

Combine all blackened seasoning ingredients into a jar, and shake until flavorings are well combined.
Optional: Combine using a spice grinder.

Step 2:

Pat fish dry and generously season fish using blackened seasoning. Once seasoned, with a pan over medium-low heat, add both the butter and the canola oil; preheat oil for approx. 1 min.

Step 3:

Combine all ingredients for Hearts of Palm Puree into a food processor until homogenous and smooth.

Step 4:

With a pan on medium heat, combine canola oil and garlic clove. Sweat garlic, and add green beans; cook until fragrant, approx. 5 mins.

Step 5:

Add seasoned fish and let cook on the first side until blackened, approx 5 mins. Then, flip the fish and repeat the same process until it reaches 145 degrees.

Step 6:

Slice shallots thinly in coins, coat in Cornstarch and fry quickly in Canola Oil till golden.

Final Step:

Place half of the hearts of palm puree on two plates, add half of the green beans to the center of each plate, add the fish on top of the green beans, top with crispy shallots, and finish with a drizzle of the oil from the pan the fish was sauteed in around the outside of the hearts of palm puree.

Watch Chef Elissa Oliver's video:

About Chef Elissa Oliver

Chef Elissa Oliver received her undergraduate degree in Recreation and Leisure Services from Middle Tennessee State University and her Master’s degree in Health and Wellness Education from the University of Mississippi.  She earned a culinary certificate from Le Cordon Bleu in Atlanta and her teaching certificate from Georgia State University.

Chef Elissa Oliver has worked at several 5-star restaurants and Town Clubs in addition to teaching classes at the Viking Cooking School before beginning her teaching career at Riverwood International Charter School.

Chef Elissa Oliver image

Get Social with Chef Elissa Oliver!

LinkedIn | YouTube

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