Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute
At my restaurant, Providence, I take great pride in the variety and freshness of our fish. Most days, I am on the phone with my purveyors before my first cup of coffee, talking about what is available and what is not. The favorite part of my workday is the time I spend cutting fish in our refrigerated fish room.
The glass-enclosed "fish box," with waist-high commercial refrigerators on either side, is not terribly special. The contents of the room are sparse but integral to the task at hand: two sinks, sharp knives, a scaler, a really large cutting board to accommodate large fish, tweezers to remove the tiniest of bones, and a fairly sophisticated scale. I love to cut fish. I relish it. I love to teach people how to cut fish. I hold my breath every time I make the first cut; it steadies my hand and increases concentration. That room is the foundation for everything we do here at Providence. Mishandling fish so early in the process compromises everything. That's why you will find me in the "fish box" most every day.
Our menu is comprised of fish from all over the world: Japan, New Zealand, the North Atlantic, the Mid-Atlantic, Washington State, California, Europe, and, of course, Alaska. We are able to get most everything 24 to 48 hours after it is removed from the sea. Recently I was invited by the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute to observe the commercial salmon fisheries. I jumped at the chance to go to Alaska and close that 24-hour gap. As a life-long fisherman, I have always thought that one of the great pleasures of fishing is keeping a fish or two for the table. Filleting and cooking a fish just hours after it was pulled from the sea is about as close to a religious experience as I can imagine.