Lance Nacio, Terrebonne Parish, LA.
Lance Nacio grew up an hour outside of New Orleans in Lafourche Parish, La. Like many in the bayou, his family shrimped, trapped, and grew much of what they ate in their own backyard. “My great-grandfather, grandfather and father all supported their families by hunting and fishing. It’s a tradition I carry on,” he says.
Nacio started shrimping commercially 20 years ago on a small wooden boat. In 2000, he had the F/V Anna Marie built. At 55 feet, she’s a vessel large enough to sustain rough weather and carry a sizable haul, but small enough to keep diesel costs in check. It’s that delicate economic balance that has kept his business, Anna Marie Shrimp, above water through Hurricane Katrina, Hurricane Rita, and the BP oil spill.
In the wake of these disasters, Nacio took a risk and invested in on-board freezers. The equipment, which freezes seafood almost instantly on large aluminum plates, had long been used in Alaskan and Canadian fisheries, but it had never been used in the Gulf shrimp industry.
Live shrimp are mechanically graded and chilled in seawater and then weighed, bagged, boxed and loaded into the deck freezer to be quick-frozen. This waterless, flash-freezing process allows Nacio to provide “capture quality” shrimp to customers.
His son David now captains the Anna Marie, as Nacio handles shore-side operations. But the family business continues to forge a legacy where tradition meets innovation. “Shrimp is not just our industry—it’s a way of life,” he says. “We believe our efforts will ensure that Louisiana shrimp will thrive for the next generations of fishermen.”
Tenney Flynn, Chef/Co-owner, GW Fins, New Orleans
It’s no surprise that a Louisiana chef is a big fan of Gulf of Mexico wild shrimp brought to market by shrimpers like Lance Nacio. With his long-standing reputation as one of the most knowledgeable seafood chefs in the country, it speaks volumes that Tenney Flynn is a big supporter of wild shrimp from the Gulf.
“Wild-caught American shrimp has the best flavor,” Flynn says.
Throughout his 17 years as chef and co-owner of GW Fins, Flynn has been unyielding in seeking out the highest quality seafood possible for his restaurant. He rotates all the dishes he serves daily because the process allows him to put whatever seafood is best in quality on the menu.
However, Gulf shrimp are a constant fixture on GW Fins’ menu, whether in the Shrimp Rémoulade Salad or as head-on Barbecue Shrimp, deglazed with Abita Amber. For the latter, Flynn says the buttery, spicy Creole seasoning in the sauce is a great complement to the naturally sweet Gulf shrimp.