Smoked Seafood Display

April 28, 2011

This is a post from Chef Richard Mathis that deals with the smoked fish display he implemented at the St. Pete Times Forum this year. It is worth reading. Thank you.

This season at the St. Pete Times Forum, we incorporated a smoked fish display which received rave reviews. I wanted to share the procedure with anyone who may be interested.


Some of the local and sustainable fish that we used throughout the season are:

  • Mahi Mahi
  • Mutton Snapper
  • Yellowtail Snapper
  • Rock Shrimp
  • Florida Wild Shrimp
  • Mote Siberian Sturgeon
  • Yellowfin Tuna
  • Icelandic Arctic Char


The Cure consists of:

16# Sugar

8# Kosher Salt

1 Container (24oz.) Granulated Garlic

1 Container (18oz.) Paprika

You can add your custom spice blend here to your taste as the most important part of this mix is the 2 to 1 ratio of sugar to salt… the rest is just added flavor and color.


Layer the bottom of pan with Cure mixture.
Cover liberally with more Cure mixture and continue layering.

As a general rule… at least what worked best for me throughout the years is… 24 hours of cure per 1 inch of thickness of product.

Rinse cure from fish under running water and place fish on a rack.
Allow fish to air dry in cooler, UNCOVERED, for 24 hours or until a nice pellicle has formed on fish surface.  This will allow a “sticky” surface for the smoke to adhere to… notice the nice glaze on the fish in image below.

Smokers are all different and the following method is certainly not the only way to approach this…

Make a pyramid of charcoal on an oven rack and place over direct flame until the charcoal is glowing.

Transfer glowing charcoal to bottom of smoker and add presoaked wood chips… I found mesquite chips to work the best for me here.

Layer the seafood in the smoker with thicker items toward the bottom of the box as they will need more heat to cook through.

This process takes anywhere from 3-5 hours.  This time will be more consistent if you have a constant heat source in your smoker.  I was using charcoal as my heat source so the time varied greatly.

Rotate the fish if necessary throughout the cooking process.

Cool thoroughly, slice and display.


Garnish platter with capers, boiled eggs and diced red onion.  A sauce can also be utilized… i.e.  remoulade, sweet chili cocktail sauce, dill crème fraiche,  wasabi aioli, etc…

Please take a moment and post any comments that you may have…

Time For More Conversation.

April 26, 2011

If you’re a regular follower of this blog you know that we recently posted our 100th blog post. The blog has come a long way since we sat down to brainstorm what it’s exact purpose would be a couple years ago. I am pleased with the posts we’ve received from our chefs and the thoughts they’ve shared.

But as all great chefs should do — sometimes I need to think to myself, what would make this better?

The real goal of this blog is to capture the voice and thoughts of all our culinarians. It is easy to comment on posts. It’s easy to submit content to post. So let’s start doing more of it. You can post about your experiences with culinary training and competition. You can share thoughts on new trends in the kitchen. You can read something interesting and share it with the group.

In the kitchen, things work best when all the chefs work as a team. That’s the same with the blog. Our group thoughts and ideas will make us all stronger, smarter and better prepared in the kitchen. Let’s help each other. Now that you’ve read this, I encourage you to comment on a post below or submit something of your own.

Thank you for you interest and support over the first 100. Now let’s talk it up a bit more for the next 100.

In Good Cooking Always,

Chef Roland Henin

Meet Our Chefs — Hope Hartley

April 25, 2011

I am excited to announce this new series on our blog. We will be interviewing chefs around the company (in random order) and allowing them to talk about their operations, their personal goals and their thoughts on trends in the culinary world. The first interview is below with Sous Chef Hope Hartley from Wheeling Island.

1) What motivated you to become a chef?

Definitely it was watching my grandmother cook. She cooked for many kids and cooked everything from scratch. I can still remember vividly when I was five years old in the kitchen with her and she was teaching me how to make a chicken from the chickens my grandfather had just butchered. I learned a lot from her including a love for cooking.

2) What achievement are you most proud of from your time as a chef?

Passing my CSC tests.

3) How is the role of the chef changing?

We are not just cooks and managers anymore. We have adapted to watching the stock pricing to see what is up before creating menus and with today’s pricing we’re trying to streamline things more to be more efficient. Chefs now have to keep up with the computer age. We are held at a higher accountability for what happens in the restaurant, not just in the kitchens.

4) What do you think will be the major issues chefs face over the next 20 years?

I think we have a few issues that will impact us. I have noticed that some of the younger generation are taking more short cuts to cooking and the end results are not good. Then there is the price of products that are going up along with fuel prices. Hopefully one good change will be that we all become more eco-friendly.

5) What are you looking forward to this year as a Delaware North chef?

I’m looking forward to working with the marketing team and doing more to promote the restaurants. There are going to be a lot of changes this year at this property and I am looking forward to helping make them better.

6) Were there any personal or professional obstacles that almost prevented you from becoming a chef?

One of the biggest personal obstacles for me starting out was not being able to get any grants for schooling and having to take out five loans.

7) What is the most important piece of advice you could offer someone just setting out to culinary school?

Study hard and take some kind of computer class, because you will need it.

Think Local Food — Never Forget The Basics.

April 22, 2011

Someone recently forwarded me an article about how culinary schools have adapted their courses due to the sustainable food movement that has happened in the culinary world. I told them, well that’s not anything really new, it’s been going on for a few years. But, I guess it’s good to remind people about the basics from time to time.

Sustainable and local food is especially important at this time of year when lots of new and fresh stuff is coming up. I have been eating fresh California asparagus any which way now for the past week to 10 days. The asparagus is gorgeous and very healthy.

Don’t forget to think local. Don’t ever forget the basics.

Five More Fish.

April 19, 2011

It seems like every time I open my e-mail or read the news I see more information about sustainable seafood and how chefs will need to make different choices in the future. I found an e-mail from Chefs  Collaborative that talks about the different breeds of salmon chefs can use on their menus. The list includes King Salmon, Coho, Chum, Pink and Sockeye. The article talks about the different attributes of each of these breeds and references how they should be cooked. I think this is an incredibly valuable resource and article for our chefs to read.

Five More Fish.

Savoring Taste And Not Trends

April 18, 2011

The below link will take you to an article about Chef Gary Danko who works in San Francisco. I don’t usually post chef profile pieces but I think the question and answer section is relevant. Danko talks about some very important topics that matter to chefs – sustainability, organic foods, molecular cooking and maintaining high standards.

I think it’s important for our Delaware North chefs to think about some of these same questions and how they feel about each topic. Your beliefs and opinions shape how you work in the kitchen. I would encourage you to post any thoughts you have on these topics in the comments section below.

Chef Savors Taste and Not Trends.

More Sustainable Seafood Talk (Our 100th Post)

April 14, 2011

This is exciting – this will be our 100th blog post about chefs, food and culinary news. Again, I’m posting something regarding sustainable seafood as I believe it’s a very important topic. This is an article from National Geographic and it documents a night of dining on sustainable seafood. The writer is passionate about how delicious and filling the meals are. Barton Seaver is the chef preparing the dishes and he has recently written a book about the sustainable seafood issue. Toward the end of the article there are some valuable links, videos and ideas that I think might interest people even more. Take time to review the article.

Conservation Never Tasted So Good.

Chef Kilduff Earns PCIII

April 12, 2011

This is a great piece from Chef Kilduff who just earned his Pro Chef III certification. It is a phenomenal achievement. He was kind enough to share his thoughts on the experience and I’ve pasted them below.

Training for the PCIII was probably the hardest experience I’ve endured. It started with just a simple thought; I think I’m going to take the PCIII. Chef Doherty kept saying, “let’s book it.” So, we booked it. Through the hard season we had, there was not much time for preparation. The games kept coming and coming, the concerts still went on and boom…I got my assignments, Japan and South America. I started really reading and practicing in just one week. I crammed and crammed until I left Monday night for the Tuesday start. I had packed everything I could think I’d need. In competing I learned to rely on nobody but myself as I choose my own destiny.  I think Day 1 was the toughest as it was the first time I cooked in front of the school judges. I had some really high scores that day. I had a 91 on my test and a 96 on my practical. I was on top of the world. I thought this would be a piece of cake.

Then Day 2 happened. My requisition was not in the kitchen, the requisition that I had built last week and emailed was not there. I thought, is this a test to see how I react? I politely asked, “Chef did you get my requisition?

“I did not see it in the kitchen,” he said. It’s not here! I wondered to myself, why is this happening to me,  but in the tough time I pulled out my bag of tricks for Japan as it was the stuff I practiced with and I was comfortable. The chef said, “Wow you’re really prepared,” and then he apologized and got the rest of the stuff I needed. After the practical it was time for the test which was extremely difficult. I had a nice score and thought, wow, another strong day.

Day 3 was on us. At this point I was exhausted. I was reading all the study guide books at once and it was giving me a headache. Try reading four days straight. The whole exam is a one and done deal so you could be sent home for failing an exam. That kind of stress and the stress that comes from knowing you could at any point waste all your time and effort and the company’s time and money…it really hit me hard that I needed to succeed.

I lost about seven pounds during the process as I couldn’t eat lunch or snacks due to my stress and the nerves that ran through my body. On Day 3 I was given a market basket (it’s a little different from a competition market basket as you get it the night before and not 20 minutes ahead of time) and asked to write and execute a four-course menu. Oh, can’t forget the wine pairing either. This experience coupled with the written test was one of the worst sections of the process and it sent me into a tailspin. Nothing I studied for was comparable to this test. I crammed and the only time I had to study was late at night…so I did not get much sleep.

Day Four (the final day) I had a Human Resources Quick pro quo case to present and a Powerpoint with the financial info for the accountants to grade. Oh yes, I said accountants, not chefs. These guys were number people. This is just another time when you need to be on point. They put you in the situation where you are the chef of a failing restaurants with numbers that are out of place, inventories that are wrong and questions that need to be answered along with cooking and testing. You really need to start this financial project on day one or you won’t be able to prepare and pass it. If you’re unprepared, it’s likely you’ll be sent home.

It was the moment of truth when the results were delivered. I went in the room with a feeling like someone kicked me in the gut. Then I learned I had received a four-day score of 86.6. It wasn’t great but it let me know that I can hold my own.

The challenges I face were many. For starters, attempting this in the middle of the season as things were gearing up for the playoffs and parties were occurring had me feeling unready. I had thought of canceling because I had such little time to study. The main thing is you need to be an active participant in cooking daily. I felt a little cheated when I learned that many others had been spoon fed the test for the last three weeks in what’s called a submersion class for the PCIII. But, I believed in my ability to cooking and felt that I could cook circles around these guys. The biggest lesson I took from this experience is that I will never be perfect and that motivates me.  I do believe when you think you’ve achieved perfection, then you no longer have a drive to learn because you are content with the status quo.

I say if you’re ready for an incredible challenge, then go for your PCIII. You are the only one who truly knows if you are ready.

Strong Review At PETCO Park.

April 11, 2011

As many of you know, baseball season began about 10 days ago and fans have been pouring in to their favorite ballparks around the country. Delaware North Companies Sportservice operates at several MLB stadiums around the country, so this is a very busy time of year. I have been on the road constantly for the past few weeks. PETCO Park Chef Ambarish Lulay sent me this article last week that offers a strong review of the food at PETCO Park. The article talks about several dishes fans can enjoy and the new Food Network cart. I’m very proud of Chef Ambarish and his team’s efforts at PETCO Park. Please read the article to learn more about their great (and delicious) work.

What’s New To Eat At PETCO Park.

More Thoughts On Sustainable Seafood

April 9, 2011

Since the topic of sustainable seafood is a hot item in the news these days I like to share as many good stories and updates on it as I can. I like for people to read opinions on both sides and make their own decisions. This article talks about how we may be fishing our oceans to low levels for certain species and regardless of whether you believe that or not, it’s something us chefs need to think about. Please take time to read this article.

The World’s Oceans and Sustainable Seafood.