Back when Corner Kitchen opened in 2004, Co-Owner and Chef Joe Scully didn’t have Trout on the menu! Shocking, I know because it’s one of our staple items on our menu! Joe recently wanted to share why he decided to always have trout on the menu –
“I have always had an affinity for seafood. My parents served a lot of it to us as kids. Everything from grilled Bluefish caught that day to the dreaded Tuna Casserole. (Mom would always save the casserole for when Dad was out of town; not up to his standards…) We loved bagels and lox, shrimp in any form, clams (quahogs to steamers), mussels and fresh caught trout.
When we opened Corner Kitchen, we featured all kinds of seafood, especially on our dinner menu. At that time I had taken the opinion that Carolina farmed raised trout was “Tourist Food” and it was emphatically not on the menu.
Enter the venerable Dick Jennings.
Dick was an old man when I met him. He would struggle up the steps to Corner Kitchen around once a month, always carrying a sample of his “Sunburst Trout Farm” products. Dick was not only old, he was decidedly “old school”. Gracious and engaging; quirky even. As I rebuffed his overtures, I was careful to be respectful- not always the case with me and salespeople. But refuse him I would, over and over again. Finally on a Friday afternoon Dick showed up with a bag containing two good looking trout filets. I was a little exasperated, having been through this many times before. This time Mr. Jennings, as we referred to him, was insistent. “Joe, why not just cook this up and we can taste it ourselves?”
Friday afternoon, really?
I rushed into the back kitchen, found Jonny Ball, my ace hotside cook. I grumbled a little, and Jonny knew why. However, not one to be unkind, I quickly instructed young Jonny Ball to take one part spiced pecans, one part raw pecans and one part Panko bread crumbs, season the filet, press it into the breading mix and sear it on the griddle. We paired it with ginger mashed potatoes, wilted collards, crispy sweet potato threads and Jon came up with a “bourbon” sauce. Mr. Jennings and I tucked into these nice looking plates of food and I knew right then that we would be selling trout forever. Since then we have sold over 40,000 pounds of Sunburst Farms Trout.
And that’s how much I know…”