When speaking to non-restaurant people, I am often asked, “What’s your specialty?” Usually I smile indulgently. I mean, really, Doctors have specialties, cook are cooks. We just cook whatever is in front of us, and as quickly as we can! So, the “What’s your specialty?” question isn’t one that I invite. However, I do have my favorites…
Back in 1992, Mark Erickson and I started a smoked seafood company, Woodsmoke Provisions. We collaborated with Inland Seafood. They helped by providing space in their humongous seafood processing plant as well as the capital to get the whole thing going. I cobbled together a unique smoker that ensured safe temperatures throughout curing and smoking. Initially we were only smoking sides of Salmon and eventually branched out into smoked trout and other seafood items. Once we were up and running, things started to get a little hectic. Mark and I were both working full-time at a local private club. I would go into Inland Seafood and work on curing, smoking, and organizing things on a daily basis. Then we would re-assemble in the plant after service to hand slice the salmon. We hired several of our co-workers to slice the smoked salmon with us. This usually happened around midnight. It made for many long days. At some point it became obvious that if we wanted to be successful as small-time entrepreneurs, someone would have to go full-time in the seafood plant. I drew the short straw and went head first into not only the smoked seafood business, but also into Inland Seafood.
We didn’t have the sales that first year to justify a salaried employee, so I talked my way into a job working for Inland. They paid me, first as a marketing specialist, then as Executive Chef and finally as a plant manager. The whole experience was an amazing education for me. I was exposed to the workings of a (then) $67 million business. I worked with the sales staff, the buyers and ultimately with all the talented people in the “back”. That’s how we referred to everything from the receiving dock through the cutting room, the drive-in freezer, the lobster room, and the loading dock.
I gained a fervent appreciation for everything that comes from the sea. I ate sea urchin straight from the shell. I tasted every grade of caviar. I tried so many varieties of fish, shellfish, crustacean, mollusk; it was truly amazing.
Which brings me back to my “specialty”. I guess it would be seafood. Duh… Right now at Corner Kitchen, you can order: Oysters, Calamari, Octopus, Flounder, Swordfish and Trout. Oh, and of course, Smoked Salmon
My favorite recipe is: Apple Glazed Salmon (2 Servings)
2 each Salmon portions
1 each Apple (Granny Smith) Peeled, Sliced Thinly
6 ounces Apple Juice
4 Tbsp. Butter
to taste Salt & pepper
Method: Season Salmon and Put in a hot pan with a little oil. Sear and remove to a plate. Add Apple slices and Apple juice, reduce by half, and add butter. Allow to become a sauce (be careful not to over reduce) pour over Salmon. Serve on Salad Greens and Warm Potato Salad.