Serving more seafood is both an exciting culinary challenge and a potentially lucrative business opportunity. But your servers must know how to sell it. After the menu, they are the direct line of communication between your guests and your restaurant’s seafood goals.
We asked two dozen chefs who serve an abundance of seafood to pinpoint the questions their customers most often ask their servers. Barton Seaver, chef, author and seafood evangelist, provides the optimal answers for a restaurant that has already defined its sustainable seafood policies. These answers can be adapted to meet your operation’s objectives.
What are the flavor differences between the fish I know and this fish you have on the menu?
“Most species can be grouped into a category of seafood that all share similar flavor and texture characteristics. For example, flaky white fish all have a mild flavor and a subtle sweetness. The [species] we are serving this evening is subtly different from the [species] that you might know. And tonight we’ve paired it with components in the dish that highlight the similar qualities between the two fish.”
How fresh is the fish on my plate?
“We take the necessary steps to ensure the seafood products we receive are of the highest quality. We then store seafood properly and use it quickly. No dish is served unless the chef deems the quality deserving of your appreciation.”
Is this seafood wild-caught or farmed-raised?
“We are proud to offer responsibly sourced wild seafood because it is one of the last truly wild ingredients we can feature on our menu. But just as is the case with all other farmed ingredients we serve, we believe seafood can be responsibly farmed as well. We take equal pride in serving heirloom tomatoes as we do in serving the [species] we are pleased to be offering in the [dish] preparation tonight.”
What is the fish’s country of origin?
If the seafood on offer is American:
“The [species] is a product of the United States. American fishermen and fish farmers follow the most stringent regulations in the world regarding how they capture or raise fish. So when we offer American seafood, you can be confident it is a sustainable product.”
If the seafood comes from another country:
“While the country of origin can sometimes serve as a blanket validation of responsible seafood production, in many cases the ethics and practices of an individual producer outweigh the country of origin as the deciding factor. This evening our [species] comes from [country]. There are some concerns about some producers in that country. However, the seafood in this dish comes from a producer recognized for its sustainable practices.”
If I wanted to cook fish at home, where do you suggest I buy it?
“Any store where you can buy your seafood from a person is the place to shop. Forging a relationship with the person selling the fish creates a sense of responsibility to make sure the quality of the seafood you take home is top notch. Plus, it opens you up to the opportunity to learn something from the seafood expert in the room.”