May 10, 2022

The Seafood Episode with Sena Wheeler of Sena Sea- Fresh vs Frozen, Wild vs Farmed and How to Buy and Prepare Fish

The Seafood Episode with Sena Wheeler of Sena Sea- Fresh vs Frozen, Wild vs Farmed and How to Buy and Prepare Fish

This week my guest is Sena Wheeler of Sena Sea. Sena’s part of at least a third-generation fishing family. With her husband Rich, they’re bringing premium quality seafood directly to their customers. Sena has a master’s degree in nutrition and food science with a specialty in quantifying omega 3's in fish, and determining preferred handling practices for premium quality. Rich does most of the fishing for Sena Sea, but they also source from fellow fishermen who share their high-quality standards, and commitment to sustainability. Sena Sea are not only fishermen, they also run a small, fisherman-owned custom processing facility in Cordova, AK where they specialize in premium quality and traceability. 

On the show, it’s all about seafood. We talk fresh vs frozen, and wild vs farmed. Sena explains the best way to properly thaw fish, and we discuss brining. You’ll pick up some cooking tips, and learn about all the different types of salmon. Anyone down for some chum? 

And right now, they’re getting ready for fresh Copper River King and Sockeye salmon. This only comes once a year. When we were recording, I wasn’t sure this episode would be released in time, but if you hurry, you might still be able to get your pre-order in. Please check out the show notes for all of their info, especially how to order their fish and get it shipped directly to your door. For all you personal chefs who shop retail, this is a great way to get your hands on some premium seafood.

Sponsor- The United States Personal Chef Association
While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it provided an avenue for personal chefs to close that dining gap.  Central to all of that is the United States Personal Chef Association. Representing nearly 1,000 chefs around the US and Canada, USPCA provides a strategic backbone for those chefs that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification, and more. 

One of the upcoming events for USPCA is their annual conference scheduled for July 7-10 at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, FL. Featuring speakers and classes, the conference allows chefs to hone their skills and network with like-minded business people, and is open to all chefs in the industry.

For those who supply the industry, it’s a chance to reach decision-makers and the buyers of products. Chefs Without Restaurants listeners can use promo code CWR50 to save $50 on registration. Please contact Angela at aprather@uspca.com for information on becoming a member, attending the conferences, or exhibiting. 

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Founder Chris Spear’s personal chef business Perfect Little Bites

Transcript

Welcome to the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. I'm your host Chris spear. On the show. I have conversations with culinary entrepreneurs and people in the food and beverage industry who took a different route. Their caterers, research chefs, personal chefs cookbook authors, food truckers, farmer's cottage bakers and all sorts of culinary renegades. I myself fall into the personal chef category as I started my own personal chef business perfect little bites 11 years ago. And while I started working in kitchens in the early 90s, I've literally never worked in a restaurant. This week. My guest is Sena Wheeler of Sena Sea. Sena is part of at least a third generation fishing family. With her husband rich, they're bringing premium quality seafood directly to their customers. Sena has a master's degree in nutrition and food science with a specialty in quantifying omega threes and fish and determining preferred handling practices for premium quality reached as most of the fishing for Senousy. But they also sourced from fellow fishermen who share their high quality standards and commitment to sustainability. And Senousy are not only fishermen. They also run a small fisherman own custom processing facility in Cordova, Alaska, where they specialize in premium quality and traceability. On the show. It's all about seafood. We talk fresh versus frozen and wild versus farmed. Cena explains the best way to properly thaw fish and we discuss brining. You'll pick up some cooking tips and learn all about the different types of salmon. Anyone down for some chum. And right now they're getting ready for fresh Copper River King and sockeye salmon. This only comes around once a year. When we were recording, I wasn't sure when this episode would be released. So I didn't think that you'd be able to get a hold of this. But if you hurry, you might still be able to get your hands on some. They're doing a pre order right now. So please check out the show notes for all their info especially how to order their fish and get it shipped directly to your door. For all the personal chefs out there who shop retail This is a great way to get your hands on some premium seafood. And if you'd like to support the Chefs Without Restaurants, community and podcast financially, you can become a patreon member or simply contribute via Venmo. Like all the other info, you can find it in our show notes. And the show will be coming right up after our word from this week's sponsor. Over the past 27 years, the world of the personal chef has grown in importance to fulfill the dining needs of consumers. While the pandemic certainly upended the restaurant experience, it provided an avenue for personal chefs to close that dining gap. Central to all of that is the United States personal chef Association, representing nearly 1000 chefs around the US and Canada and even Italy. USPTA provides a strategic backbone for those chef's that includes liability insurance, training, communications, certification and more. And it's a reassurance to consumers that the chef coming into their home is prepared to offer them an experience along with their meal. One of the big upcoming events for the US PCA is their annual conference scheduled for July 7 through 10th at the Hyatt Regency in Sarasota, Florida, featuring a host of speakers and classes. The conference allows chefs to hone their skills and network with like minded business people and is open to all chef's in the industry. For those who supply the industry it's a chance to reach decision makers and the actual buyers of products. This will be the first time back following the COVID lockdowns and the chefs are anxious to connect. And right now Chefs Without Restaurants listeners can use promo code CW are 50. To save $50 on registration, please contact Angela at aprathaer@uspca.com For information on becoming a member attending the conference or exhibiting. And as always, all this info will be in the show notes. And now on with the show. Thanks so much for listening, and have a great week. Hey Sena. Welcome to the show. Thanks so much for coming on.

Sena Wheeler:

Thank you. I'm so happy to be here.

Chris Spear:

I'm looking forward to talking to you today about some amazing quality seafood.

Sena Wheeler:

My favorite topic.

Chris Spear:

I am, I grew up in New England. So my fish that I grew up eating was very different than I think a lot of what you're fishing, but you know, it's really funny. Quality of fish is so big. And we'll definitely get into this. You know, I always hated salmon growing up. And I think that's just because I had some like really bad quality salmon. I just thought I'd lead with that. I moved to Seattle 20 years ago and lived there with my wife just for a couple of years. And when we got out there, my wife's aunt and uncle live there. Our first meal was salmon. And I was just like, I can't do this. You know, for them. It was like so special. And I ate it and was kind of like, oh, wow, this is like unlike any salmon I've ever had before because I think so many years of you know, in New England, we didn't have local salmon. So whatever I had was just kind of like grocery store kind of frozen thawed stuff. And I never really liked it. But moving to Seattle and having some truly amazing salmon made me a believer, and now it's one of my favorite fish.

Sena Wheeler:

Oh, well, I love that. I think that's why people talk about when you talk about seafood, you're talking about quality. And it's because it makes such a difference. I mean, just that stray right there it goes from sending you've never liked to oh my gosh, this is amazing. And and that's based on the quality. So I think when you're talking about fish, it just makes all the difference. It's just the world of difference. So I'm, I'm not surprised by that. Because in Seattle, we have the best fish. I'm from Seattle area. And we grew up my husband Rich and I both grew up in the Pacific Northwest Seattle area, and my family fish for generations from Seattle. fishing off the coast and up in Alaska. So Seattle has this real sister relationship with with Alaska and a definite lover of the Alaska seafood. So

Chris Spear:

So you are a part of a third generation fishing family. You know, I've been saying third generation fishing family for a long time. And I just I was gonna tell my parents I said, Hey, I need some photos, you know, go through the photo album, and they sent me photos and it was third generation is my grandfather who immigrated from Norway and his brothers and they all got boats started fishing. They emigrated to Ballard, Washington, which is a hotbed and in the Pacific Northwest for Norwegian immigrants and fishing. And then my dad fish, and this is through my mom's side. So my dad was the son in law and he fished and then same thing, my husband is the son in law. So I come from generations of fishing wives. But when I asked for photos, they gave me this great photo of my great grandfather back in Norway, who lived to be 100. And he fished. And his obituary was this fantastic obituary about how he learned fishing from his father. And he was a pioneer of new fishing methodologies in Norway. I felt like I could be reading about any of my relatives. It was really incredible. And our son fishes so now it's like, three, that's nothing. We're five plus easily and probably hundreds of generations before that. How many new families are getting into fishing these days? Do you know like, is it are the people fishing, doing like you like continuing on the tradition? Or do you see people who've never had it kind of in their family starting? Is that something you can even speak to? You know, people love to hear our story and our generational fishing story and up in Alaska? It's not unheard of. I'd say half the fishermen are like us. They're their small fishing families. You know, maybe not that they may not you know, reach back to Norway, but they definitely raising their families fishing and in some yield small towns like Cordova where we fish out of fishermen have always been you know, proud, nepotism, nepotism is proud and passing it on to your kids, your sons, your daughters, and I'd say that still happens but probably a little bit less where it you seems to be kind of maybe harder to break into. I imagine it's the same with like farming, you know, you have a lot of, you know, third fourth generation farmers. And as things go along, you know, I think less people want to do that. And I'm sure it's kind of similar with fishing a little bit. Was it something you ever thought you're gonna get into like growing up? When you started thinking about going to college? Like, were you thinking about continuing on this fishing business? No, not really. I used to go fishing on my dad's boat. And I have a My dad had three daughters. And my parents had three daughters, I'm the middle. For some reason. I'm the only one that ever went fishing on my on my dad's boat. And none of us know really why he just says, Well, you were the only one with interest. And so I did that in high school and college, I go up in the summers, I'd fly up to Alaska, get on the boat, make a trip, we take the boat down Inside Passage, it was just a really cool way to see what's going on. And at that time, you know, I did, I learned the whole rotation on deck. And then my dad also showed me, you know, up in the top house, how to set the net and navigate and I would drive the boat. And he said, you know, if you're interested, this is here, but but it was like, this is cool for college for summer, but is never something that I saw myself doing as a career. You went to school for nutrition and food science, is that right? Yeah. So that it you know, it's funny, because a lot of things have just come really kind of full circle and sort of naturally, you know, it's like, you'd look back and go, Oh, that made sense. Going out with both fishing family and my mom was owned a health food store. So we ate healthy and we ate fish. And when I went to college, I stumbled upon nutrition. And it was like, Oh, this makes sense that this is just how I've been raised this is I still I love nutrition. And I think everybody should take a nutrition class because we're all humans, and we all eat, need to feed ourselves. So I just found it so interesting. And then, at the end of my undergrad career where most people in my program, were going to be an RD, a registered dietitian and move to the hospital. I did my internship in the hospital and it was like, not for me. So I took a left where everybody took a right and I went into the more science based at that point, I went into food science. So I went and got my master's in Food Science at Oregon State. And the funny thing is, you need a professor or an advisor to get your master's degree to study under them. And, and I'm, I'm searching around on the internet, you know, oh, oh, geez, you know, find an advisor. And there's one in fisheries and it was in food science, but it was fisheries, food science. And he says he's looking for somebody that could go on the boat, and that would study on board handling techniques, correlate them to sensory analysis. And I was like, Oh, I go on boats, I can do that. No problem. And so one email, and I got a full scholarship for my master's in fisheries, food science. That's amazing. I mean, it kind of is great. The way that the two kind of intersected. You know, I think that's where a lot of people especially have businesses are really successful as finding the combination of two things that that go together. How about your husband? Was he like in the fishing business industry? Like it sounds like you pulled him into this thing? Was he all about fishing? He we grew up on the same island in the Pacific Northwest is not a real big island and we being in the Pacific Northwest. He grew up knowing the fisherman also. And then I was in a fishing family. So it was a it was already kind of I would say on his radar, but he he went to college for sociology, you know? And then he decided, well, I You were at that age Post College where he was like, I need to give this a shot. Or I'll always wonder what it's like and yes, you will always wonder everybody always says I wish I just want to go one time. So he found a boat and he went salmon fishing and and my dad got wind of that and kind of went you know if you want to fish you should probably be talking to me. And the rest is history. And the rest is history. So how long have you been doing this? When did you really get this going? So we got married after grad school so right out of college, we got married and that's right about the time that he started getting on the boat and fishing so he became very quickly a career long liner. When you're a career fisherman you're bought in it's all about fishing sustainably it's about the long term is not this I'm going to go up and and make a buck and and you know go home. So he got involved in the boat that might you know, he got broken on the boat and my dad was running in this way kind of Norwegian style and career fisherman, so we pretty much went from college into right into that lifestyle. And I guess he's been commercially fishing for over 20 years. And I was working. And then we ended up moving really rural into the mountains to have our kids and raise our kids. And so at that point, I wasn't working. And then there's this story about when one day driving out to Thanksgiving dinner on the coast, and it's like an eight hour drive, and we're in the car. And Rich was fishing for Copper River salmon and halibut and Black Cod at the time. And I kind of start going, you know, and he's on the board for the Marketing Association, Copper River marketing. And I went, Well, you know, you guys should be, you guys should be marketing it like grass fed beef. And you guys should be doing this. And you should be doing that. And he kind of looks over to me and goes, Yeah, you should. And I was like, you know, you should and he's like, No, you should sell my fish. And so on an eight hour drive, we arrived to Thanksgiving dinner, we had the business name, we had the plan and, and by the time he went fishing again, we were selling his fish. So. So I would love to find out like how does this work? Now bring us up to speed. Now, what does your business look like? How does it operate? I mean, I know you fish. But how do you get the fish to your customers? Who are your customers? And how does that whole process work? Yeah, well, starting, it was like, okay, he's a commercial fisherman. I've already been hounding him about onboard handling techniques, because this that's what I studied for my master's degree. And it was like, well, if we're going to do this, we're going to provide the very best fish that people can find. That's, that's what we're after we're we we are have all the unique skills to bring people the very best. So how, what is that going to be? What is it going to look like? And for us, we chose premium frozen quality, because we felt like we can get that consistent quality to people, you know, proper packaging, proper freezing, proper handling, and then locking that in. So the fresh game is challenging. We'll get into fresh in a minute, because we do it two weeks out of the year. But the rest of the year, we do premium frozen. And so that decision was our first and our biggest and then rich fishes for the sockeye halibut and black cod. And we also Rita has a huge network. He's just one of these guys that knows everybody. So we catch front, we get fish from other fishermen that we know as well. And then about halfway through the process, we ended up purchasing a small processing facility up in Cordova, Alaska. So we have a small custom processing facility. So we're able to get the fish and we have a dock, we offload off the boat, take it to the casting processing facility. And that's where we're cutting it specifically for Senousy. How we want to cut we do six ounce portions. We wrap in parchment, which is something really unique and special. And then we vacuum seal. So you get the six ounce portions already cut and vacuum sealed, and then premium freezing. So they're sushi quality. What is the wrapping and parchment? Do? You know, our first year we tried it out. And the first thought on wrapping with parchment, we heard from some friends, it was really kind of an effort to not have our fish touch plastic we did on half of our fish. And what we found was in the wintertime, you know, it had the the heat the biggest benefit was in the winter when had been frozen. And we had portions with them without the parchment. And we're eating them ourselves all the time, of course all winter. And we could tell the quality difference would have been wrapped in parchment. And it's that oxygen barrier. It just keeps that quality high. So after that first winner, we were like we're wrapping everything. And so that's part of our kind of signature process. Now. You know, I've purchased a lot of IQ fish in my days, and I don't think I've ever seen that. No, you haven't because nobody else does. We might have invented it. And you might start seeing it because we have we have people asking about it and and now that we have customers that are accustomed to it. It's like we had a two week window where we didn't have our parchment, we we've had supply issues and it's like hey, where's that parchment? Where does that parchment? I really liked that. It is a really special touch. So fresh versus frozen. I think you know, frozen fish gets a bad rap sometimes. So let's talk a little bit about that the difference between fresh and frozen and you know, maybe why you're frozen is better than some of the other frozen out there. Absolutely. You know, it is a controversial one because everyone's you know, when you talk about fish, it's fresh, fresh, fresh, and I absolutely agree. If you live by the sea, and you happen to know a fisherman, I do. And I really good fresh fish. And so if you can get really knowable, trustworthy, fresh fish very close to the dock, then do that. But if you live in middle America, and you're getting it from your grocery store, what is called Fresh now we have to get into the definitions of fresh that word is overused, and has many definitions that mean different things to different people. But fresh being non frozen, a lot of times it's refreshed or defrosted. So here's the worst case. I mean, you get it, it's fresh. It basically the time temperature starts when that's brought onto the boat, it's when that fish is brought out of the water, it needs to be chilled. Immediately that first hour, it saves days of shelf life. So how that fish is cared for immediately starts your time temperature. If it's left on the deck saving warm, you're knocking time off of that. So first is the quality handling. But no matter what if it's say held on ice, refrigerated temperature is still ticking, Tick tick tick every day, you get it into the plant you they would head and get it they get it out, they get it to the grocery store, that be filleted, you know it's sitting out you can see in the grocery store, it has the gaping the gapping and you know start to look on fresh, you just don't know how long it's been. So it's, it's at that point it can be really when they just get is still kind of late on the shelf life. And then worst case is say, Okay, we didn't sell it, now we freeze it, then we're going to refresh it, kind of defrost it. So you just you get into this very, like unknown and that's where people don't like salmon anymore. Yeah, and you know, I live on the east coast, we don't have fresh salmon right off the coast of Maryland here. So when I'm getting fresh salmon, who knows when it was caught and how it was handled. It's crazy. But I don't even use the word fresh on the website. I just feel like it's so misleading because the word fresh to me means never frozen. I would I would agree the same Yes. But you can use the word fresh fish. People say it all the time you see it at the grocery store, I see signs for fresh salmon in February, there is no salmon running in the world. No wild salmon run in the world in February. So there cannot be fresh wild salmon in February. But they've defrosted it, and then called it fresh. To me. That's just incorrect. But it's done all the time. So fresh can mean not frozen, it can mean the frosted after being frozen. And then it can just be used as a descriptor of any fish. So to me, that's very, I'd rather have it frozen immediately. And then I defrost it on my time schedule. So I think this is a good time probably to talk about proper thawing techniques. And you know, I'm sure, depending on how it was frozen, there's a margin of error. But you know, sometimes you get fish and you thought and it's kind of like wet and waterlogged and mealy. Is that something because of the way it was frozen held? Is that something on my end and how I'm properly doing it? Like can you talk a little bit about how to properly thaw fish and some of the challenges there because I've bought frozen fish many times and sometimes it comes out and it's great. And sometimes, you know, texturally, it's not good. Yeah, some of that is on the front end. The fish has to be cared for on the front end. And unfortunately you just don't get to know it needs to be what we found in our freezing in our processing plant. It needs to be dry when you freeze it. You don't want this kind of waterlogged fish, so we make sure our fish is dry. And then basically it's really simple. I tried to defrost as close to cooking time. So are portioned we sell everything in portions and now I'm spoiled i mean i You see full Falaise in whole fish, but now everything is in portion. So we're just completely spoiled pulling it out of the freezer. I count how many people and I defrost it. But what I have found is I put it in cold water. Right as I'm starting to prep, maybe 45 minutes before it's gonna get cooked. And I'm really defrosting in real time. If I just put the portions into the fridge in the night before a lot of people like to do that. Just those 24 hours in the refrigerator. I feel like I can tell a quality difference. So I really recommend eliminating that time in the fridge. I think that sometimes people feel like it's if it's in their fridge, it's kind of like, okay, like, but that time temperature that we're talking about is still ticking In the fridge. And so that's my biggest recommendation. You want it to be dry. And you want it to be defrosted as close to eating time or cooking time. So you're throwing it in the package, correct? Yeah. So it's not contact with the water then getting waterlogged. Exactly. Like I said, we're spoiled. They have this great vacuum seal package each portion and so I can put it in a bowl of cold water. It's getting that temperatures getting this really nice thorough defrost, but it's not getting wet. It's not sitting in water. That makes a really big difference I eat you know, we have poppers so if a if there's a broken seal, you know, I'll take it home and eat it, cook it up for my kids. And during the defrost, it's getting waterlogged. And you can definitely tell the difference. If it's wet during defrost, it's going to be kind of it's going to be waterlogged. So I will defrost it in the seal sealed up, and then I cut it out of the bay. And then I do rinse it under cold water. I always rinse my fish under cold water. And then I put on a surface and pat dry with a paper towel. What do you think about brining fish? I mean, that's something I've really liked doing doing like a 5% salt solution for about 10 minutes. Is that something you've ever done? Yeah, I've done actually dry brine. So I have done a lot of like, like a 5050, salt, sugar, and you and you put it right on dry. And within 1020 minutes, it's, it's kind of suck the moisture out and you get this, like, outside texture really changes. And it's almost like sealing off that fish. To me I kind of struggle because I'm like there's moisture coming out of the fish and I wanted the moisture to be in the fish. And so there's that struggle. But texturally it's, it does something really interesting to the fish. So I would say that you always want to be retaining moisture. But salt is a friend of fish. Salt is a friend of fish. I mean, it's you know, you're seasoning your food as people as chefs and people like to cook food. I mean, it's going to need salt. And I find if you do it on that and then you actually need much less of it. As you're cooking. You know, I like to do some kind of brine or something where then you're not just putting like a finishing, you're actually giving the salt a little time to get inside the actual fish. Absolutely. Then it's getting inside. Are you doing a wet brine? I'm curious about it. Yeah, so a couple of chefs I know have really talked about brining, it does a couple things, it tightens the fish a little bit, if that makes sense. You can also kind of get some of that salt penetration going in. And I don't wanna say like it gives it a cleaner flavor, but it does, it works really well with scallops, I find, which seems counter intuitive because you really want your seafood dry, if you're going to give it like a nice sear in a pan. So I just throw water in a container, weigh it out, and then 5% salt for about 10 minutes. And one of the things that does especially with salmon is prevents the albumin from coming out, you know, quite often you cook the fish and you got the white coming out. And while it's not harmful, it just doesn't look really attractive. And a 5% salt solution for about 10 minutes can take care of some of that. I'm gonna try that and the one I'm talking about which is a dry brine. When you say tightening, it's like yes, that is definitely and I think just having that flavor when you have salt coming in through the osmosis and it comes into the flesh. The salmon tastes salmon airier. Yeah, it amplifies that natural flavor. And then I guess the other big hot topic is farmed versus wild fish. I'm sure that's something you're really passionate about. Can you talk a little bit about the differences of those? Yes, I'm definitely biased on that topic. I you know, definitely prefer wild I grew up eating wild fish. I think that there's several reasons to go with wild. Wild is to me superior in flavor and texture. So it's it's the best it's going to taste the best and when most people tell me about their history of not liking salmon, they're from a place that is mostly eating farmed salmon. So that that kind of you know, a blender flavor, mushy or texture more just fishy. So just on the flavor, texture, especially if you're a chef, and you're really going for the the Wow, eating experience. I think you're always going to find that with wild just as a mother feeding a family. I think that you know wild is going to have always definitely have the better health benefits. You have the better ratios of omega threes and Omega sixes. You have your fish out in nature out in the ocean, eating their real wild diet. The color of our Copper River sockeye, if you look at that color, it blows your mind it is so red. And that's natural though and like all like fruits and Vegetables, the colors are healthy. So getting those bright red colors and health benefits is all about wild. And then I have a concept I think I won't delve, you know, I won't take all of our time, but it's like eat wild to save wild. So if you care about wild salmon, sometimes people have this sort of idea, like, I don't want to eat the last wild salmon out there. I also eat farm Tim to save the wild. And it's really opposite and and I think that just thinking through okay, well, if everybody just stopped eating wild, what would happen to those wild salmon? You know, the this small boat fishing industry is completely kind of ingratiate into the salmon cycle. So those fish actually need to be caught. If we just let those fish all spawn, it would follow the rivers, the rivers would get so acidic that we would have it would, it would ruin the offspring for years to come. So when we're fishing sustainably, we're actually counting not we personally but the management and Alaska is counting those fish going out making sure that you first there's like a million fish that go up to spawn, and then very carefully having the fishing in open and during certain periods in certain times. And if we just stopped eating that wild, those fish would still be caught. The there they just wouldn't be valued, right? The whole industry, the value of the fish, the fish won't be valued, the fishermen would need to catch more fish, you know, we would it's like becomes this commodity, the processing plants need to process more fish. And then people aren't valuing it. And then what happens is these pristine rivers like the Copper River, where we're fishing has never been. It's not that no deforestation, no mining, none of those other things because these fish are so valuable. So people valuing those fish and eating those fish and paying for those fish is actually what makes this all work. So we don't have to have forestation and mining on those rivers. It keeps them pure and clean for this wild fish run. Because as humans, we value this wild fish run, if that makes sense. I'll get off my soapbox now. No, I think that's really important. Because there's so much conflicting information out there. You know, as someone who's a casual observer of this, you know, you hear like overfishing, and we have to watch what we're doing. And, you know, farmed fish is maybe the future because you know, whatever. I have no real knowledge of it. And you know, I try and keep up with it. But again, there's so much conflicting information. So coming from someone like you who's in it. It's great. And not a soapbox at all. I'm a believer in that. So I think that's good stuff. Yeah, thank you. I appreciate that. It's, it is really confusing. I think fish is one of those ultra confusing topics. There's a lot of misinformation just on all fronts, and it makes people just go okay. I don't know, I'm confused. And how many kinds of salmon are there offhand? Do you even know? You know, like, I could probably name like six different types. But yeah, either. Well, that there's about five key types. And then you get into per river. So I'm talking about Copper River. So when I'm talking about Copper River King, you know, so you have King Salman, I'm gonna go it's all about fat content. It's a lot like B, you know that that content is the how you grade it. So the top is the Copper River King. King are also called Shinnok. So and then fish are multiple names. So very confusing. Yeah, the king or the Chinook. And then you have Sockeye also called reds. And then you have coho, also called Silver's. And then you have chum would be the nickname, chum or kita. And then you have peaks. So that's kind of from from top to bottom on, on value and that content. Now you have those five species in every river. And if you bought wild that it's kind of different by river so Copper River is known because of those five species. They have the highest fat content, they're packing on fat to migrate back to this really cold, really rapid, really incredible river. So these fish these species are high in omega threes and then you have the same five salmon species migrating say to Bristol Bay where you have you know, so you have and then you have the Fraser River and and so sometimes in the store, you have to keep track of not only five species and what that means, but then the actual river they come from makes a difference. Not a lot of stores have many varieties, but some like I know Trader Joe's usually has like four kinds I have frozen salmon in there, which can be overwhelming. What are your thoughts on kita? Salmon? Is that like, Okay, is it not a great? I feel like it's the commodity salmon. That's like very low grade. Am I correct with that? Yes. Right. Yeah, it's it's called chum in Alaska. And they and they tried calling it Akita, I think, because like marketing doesn't sound good at all. The two bottom salmon would be the chum, or kita. And pinks. So pinks makes sense. They're less red in color. They're just kind of less of everything. They're just kind of a basic salmon. And then chum or Keita are barely pink. So they often don't look like salmon. It flesh wise, I worked for a company. And that was like their spec, frozen salmon that they wanted you to use. And I was like, it's not like, it was super cheap. And it just came in like this giant box of individually frozen, but not individually wrapped. And you just took it out and put it on a sheet tray to thaw. And it was like super mushy, and melee. And I was not a fan. I'm like, oh, we can't be using this, like maybe make salmon cakes. But this is not like a fillet like you couldn't pat it dry and get a good sear on it was just not good. And that's my memory of like, kita salmon. Yeah, exactly. That I mean, you might see it in good service or industrial. It's going to be your lower cost. And, you know, I get so used to the bright red Sockeye, though that we utilize it, it's it doesn't even look like salmon. To me, it's salmon. And you know, it has some health benefits. I mean, it's better than nothing. And we should be utilizing all the fish in the sea. So there's uses for it. But if you're going to serve premium salmon, I would stay away from it. So your business, who are you selling to I mean, your direct to consumer Do you also sell to business like restaurants, we've really focused on direct to consumer, so especially with our packaging. And when we went down that road with the six ounce packaging, we're really thinking about that person at home, that is unsure what to do with a whole salmon, or a whole fish. They want to eat more fish, but we're trying to really break down those barriers and make eating fish more accessible for your average person at home just sourcing the fish, defrosting the fish, cooking the fish. So we're really focused on our home consumer, just being able to eat more fish, a lot of people just save it for a restaurant. And I get a lot of emails and a lot of people communicating. It's like, I only eat it at a restaurant, I can't believe I just cooked it at home myself. And I think chefs get a lot of that to where it's like, I'll just let the chef take this one. And so a lot of what we do is is around confidence around cooking that fish that that you can do it yourself. And it can taste really great. Especially it's like, like way up if I mean, if you start with a premium quality fish, you don't have to do much. Now what about pricing? Because that's one of the big issues and you know, good food isn't cheap. But I mean proteins especially I mean, you know, you go in the stores and you're like 15 to 20 something dollars a pound. And that's not something I think everyone are comfortable paying all the time, which is how we kind of get into the cheap and commodity food game. So is there any kind of talking about pricing or education around pricing with customers? Like how much do you have to address that? Or do you not at all, I think that we do it inversely, what we're doing is providing kind of the best out there for people willing to pay for it. So we're really focusing on the premium product, you know, say price wasn't an issue, you wanted to have the best, where would you go that kind of thing. So a lot of our customers are more quality oriented than price and so and with seafood, you get what you pay for a lot of times, so we find that our audience is really looking for something special and willing to pay for it. I don't want to cut corners on fish. You know, like it's, it's like not the one thing that I want to buy cheap like, for me the one of the big quality ones is like shrimp like you can tell the difference between like the cheap shrimp and the good shrimp. Sometimes even my wife will be like, Oh, well that's expensive. I was like Do not buy the 799 a pound shrimp like that stuff just tastes terrible. You know, like it's so worth it to spend the money I find seafood more than even land proteins like I can get away with buying like commodity Chicken at the grocery store and it's fine and like beef, you know, yeah, wagyu is nice, and all this other stuff is great. But like with the fish, I really find that the quality matters so much more. And that's what I found with our consumers, you know, we're really in touch with them. And we used to do a lot of farmers market. So I would speak to people a lot. And now we get a lot of email. And what people are talking about is the quality. And so we're really following that. And it's really, it's actually really refreshing for us, it's, it allows us to not cut corners. Because at the end of the day, we know, you know, we're nothing if we're not providing the best quality. And that's our number one mission. So it makes it easier for us to do what we need to do. Well, my community is made up of lots of chefs and people who know how to cook. But do you have any cooking tips, tricks, anything you love to do with your fish that you want to share? I mean, we're always open to learning new recipes and techniques, what are some tips for those out there listening, I like to stick to the basics personally, just like we talked about, I think just just the defrosting stuff can be make a really big difference. And my biggest tip is for fish is start with high quality. And then the more high quality is, the less you need to do to it. So if you have a really high quality piece of fish, you don't need the the all the sauces and all the stuff and you know, really complex methods. I mean, you can do a really quick marinade. Well, I mean, lemon and ginger, lemon, sorry, lemon and garlic, I mean the basics and put it on the grill. And it's fantastic. So I think that sometimes people overcomplicate fish, when it could just be dialed back and be kept really simple. Well, yeah, I think if you start with a good quality product, you don't necessarily want to put all this stuff on it, right? Like you don't need to do all these marinades and sauces and techniques. I mean, maybe if you have some cheap fish and you're trying to cover up the fact that maybe it's like two days old and yeah, but that's not a my chefs out there. They're all using the best quality stuff. Lat my parents come over a lot for the opener, because I'm real busy, and they help with the kids and then they get fresh Copper River salmon. And so they were over for the last opener in and I'm getting ready. We have fresh Copper River King, it just came down. You know, I've been chipping it all day and we get to eat it for dinner and I'm getting ready to kind of putting my marinade together. I've been thinking about it all day. And my dad's like, No, put it straight on the grill. Nothing. And I'm like, please, I didn't please. Nothing, nothing on it. No, and puts it directly on the grill with nothing. And he said, you have all people need to know what this tastes like without any seasoning. And it was this thick piece and it's on the grill. And we pull it off who ate it and it was amazing. And it was it was cooked perfectly. It was just all the things you want and I and it was really, really powerful to eat that with zero seasoning and go oh my gosh, this is amazing. My kids are gobbling this up and asking for more. So that was really cool. I was really kind of it felt really strange to cricket with nothing but it was fantastic. Do you like yours with like a little rare in the middle still, huh? Yeah, I do for especially for salmon. It depends on the fish sablefish I definitely want to fully cooked It's so moist and silky anyways, you you want to fully cook that and halibut you want to catch us on the edge. And salmon also, especially with our frozen salmon, you have that comfort level because when you freeze the fish, it's actually sushi quality can be eaten raw. So it gives you a little bit of freedom to leave that that center just a little bit undercooked which I think leads to the perfect texture. So from a business standpoint, what do you wish you knew before kind of getting in business? Was there any missteps at the beginning? Like if you could go back and tell yourself like hey, do this differently? Any advice? Oh, wow, that's a really good one. You know, I thought we were going to be a fish business and a lot of what we do is shipping. We have to get the fish to the people. And a big thing of what we do is we get we we ship fish to your door and we ship it on dry ice frozen. So that premium quality to your door is logistically challenging. And so I think one of our biggest hurdles was learning how to do that really well how to ship frozen really well and we do it really well. Now I'm glad that we learned pre COVID So We were doing a lot of farmers markets. And we were doing online, it was about 5050 at the time, or actually, we were doing more at the farmers markets than online. But we were learning how to ship fish to people's door. And it worked out really well. During COVID. We were all of our farmers markets were shut down. And everybody went to the website. And we already knew how to do it when a lot of people were just learning. So I think that that was really huge. But I just think that leaning into that shipping from the beginning that that's the key. Have you had any like nightmares with shipping like I've had some hiccups the past couple of years like someone sent me some expensive like charcuterie that ended up getting lost in the mail for like two weeks and showed up to my house. Like, have you had any big issues with like it getting caught somewhere in shipping? And like showing up no good? Or is it been all good experiences with the mail order business? Has anybody had all good shipping experience? I don't know. I mean, you know, this past couple year this year, right? Like everyone was like shipping delays and the Postal Service and, and all that stuff. But again, like I got this, like there was some like $30 or pound Iberico ham that was sitting in a post office somewhere for like weeks, it was sent to de mail or something. And it showed up in this pouch with a squishy warm, you know, thing the pack had thought was just like meat, that was not good anymore. So I didn't know if you had had any just like, little stories about nightmares with like rotten fish sitting somewhere. Oh, we've had some of that. And it's one of those things where it's like, okay, that is the opposite of what we want anybody to experience. So we were really hard on that end, because, you know, bad fish is really bad. And so we have, you know, package protection, we reship it's just like, if you have a, you know, an inkling This isn't right, we're going to ship you another one right to your door, and it's going to be perfect. And so that customer experience should never involve bad fish. But it happens we ship with UPS. And you know, there's nightmare stories across the board. And there's boxes, it's funny are really big boxes, 50 pound boxes of say Copper River salmon have vanished. And I'm not saying anything, it's just, I don't know, the label falls off. Things happen. And so we have experienced everything, knock on wood. You know, we've actually seen a lot of different scenarios. And now where it used to be where it would devastate me, it would devastate me just the Think of the loss of the fish and, you know, the customer experience. And now it's like, Okay, we have a plan. And we know what to do in this situation. You know, we'll get we'll get right back out to you. We have people planning events. So now it's like, okay, well, we're gonna ship here, because if it doesn't show up, or it proves anything there, we still have one more ship day that will get it to you. And the other thing we do is we ship overnight, but we put enough dry ice for two full days. So people are panicking. Oh my gosh, it's a day late around Christmas time. Half our packages were daily. But all of them were okay. So so we just go on the side of going above and beyond. I can't imagine the logistics of doing that like sending perishable goods. It's I'm sure learning curve, right? Oh, absolutely. That's the thing is like, you think you're in the fish business? And you're in the shipping business? Do you have any new things on the horizon? Like any new products, you're going to be selling any new programs anything? Or is it just kind of business as usual, continuing on for a little bit. Our business is really cyclical with the seasons. And you know, fish has seasons like fruits, vegetables, so we really, we kind of are, we're eight years into what we're doing. So we've we've really, you know, leaning into the cycles, and we feel really comfortable with what's going on right now. As we speak. It's early May, and we're getting ready for a Copper River opener always opens in the mid May. And the actual day is very, we don't know it's all about the salmon. And as soon as we have enough salmon escape, enough salmon spawning, and so things like that. So it's very touching go. It's very exciting because you don't know when and don't know why. And today, we actually just launched the pre sale of our fresh so circling back, we primarily do frozen, but two weeks out of the year. And that's right off of the Copper River opener. We sell fresh and we only do it for two weeks because we only feel like logistically, we can do that and put all of our effort into it for two weeks of the year and do it correctly and do it right and bring you something truly truly special. If we He tried to do that the rest of the time, it would, you know, we just wouldn't be as successful. So we just drop everything. And for two weeks, we give you fresh Copper River King and Sockeye off the opener, which is just something truly special and truly unique. So that's we just opened up our presale, and we sell out of that every year. So I'm sure by the time this airs, it will already be gone, people will potentially already have been eating it, and mark your calendars for next year, it will be the beginning ish of may and get ready for that. And jump on our email list because that's where we communicate seasonality. And so even for chefs just just hearing about the seasonality and what's going on and what fish are hitting, if it's people kind of enjoy just being in the know on that. And then that list is, you know, the big deal is come early May you're on the list, and you're first to know. So it's exciting stuff. This is the food nerd stuff that I get excited about and that I think a lot of my listeners get excited about. Well, I know you had said you have children any interest in the next generation of fishing yet, like have your kids thought about getting in the fishing business? Yeah, we get them out on the boat every year, we take them up to Alaska, we have a fishing for salmon is small boats is usually one or two guys. And the size of the galley is it's like a being an RV, you know, but you can't leave. And we bring our Arbo, which is a little bit bigger in the back in terms of beds, and we bring our family of five, and it's tight. But we love it. And they come out every year just depending on their ages and what's going on depends on the lights, but they're on the boat, and everybody has jobs on the boat. And they all know the deal. And they all know how to fish, my middle daughter is a little bit less into the fishing. And so she decided at about age eight or 10 that she would be the cook. So I said great. Learn to make some a few things, you know, learn to make some pancakes, learn to make something, and you can be the cook on the boat. And so she loves to cook now. And that's what she does on the boat. And that's what she does all the time. So it's been really fun and really, really rewarding to have them up. And our son is 16 now so he does more fishing, and he's fished on a few other people's boats. So that's been kind of fun to watch. That sounds fun. I want to go experience that. I think. Yeah, yeah. Well, like I said at the farmers market, I think that um, there's not many people that don't come up to me and say, I just like to go to Alaska or on a commercial fishing boat one time, I just want to see it. And I would say yes. If you ever get the chance, definitely do that. It's a once in a lifetime experience. Is there anything else you want to leave our listeners with? Before we get out of here today? Just the way I like to connect is jump on the email list. Go to our website. And on our email list we do I have the cookbook with a few cooking techniques and tips. I think your audience is probably totally up on that stuff. But jump on the list just to hear about seasonality. And we're just passing on a lot of information year round. So it's kind of a fun place to to be and ask questions because I do love to. I have a lot of recipes on the website too. And love to answer questions. Great. Well, I have a pretty comprehensive set of shownotes. I'll put all of your contact info in there and people will know where to find you. Thanks so much. That's been really fun. Thank you. Thanks so much for coming on the show. I enjoyed learning it's I love having these episodes where I can kind of pick someone's brain a specialist and kind of learn some new things. The fish thawing for me that's huge. So I'm going to kind of put that into practice. Cool. I would love let me know what you what you find out. I'd love it. I will. And to all of our listeners. This has been Chris with the Chefs Without Restaurants podcast. Thanks for listening. Go to chefs without restaurants.org To find our Facebook group, mailing list and check database. The community is free to join. You'll get gig opportunities, advice on building and growing your business and you'll never miss an episode of our podcast. Have a great week.