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.