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Understanding Customers and Selling More Seafood

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on June 27th, 2014, in Announcements, Selecting Seafood

A new study by Constellation Brands research about different types of wine consumers had some interesting ideas that we think can easily apply to how you choose the seafood you’re offering your customers. This article on outlines this 6 categories as:

  • Engaged Newcomers
  • Everyday Loyalists
  • Price Driven
  • Overwhelmed
  • Image Seekers
  • Enthusiasts

What does that have to do with your next seafood order? Everything! Each one of your customers is going to engage with the complicated world of seafood in their own way and understanding what motivates them is key to providing them with an amazing experience.

So, what are they thinking about? Engaged Newcomers and the Overwhelmed may have concerns with issues they see in the media – mercury, over fishing, mislabeling – all these hot topics leave consumers feeling confused. Training and education can keep you and your waitstaff on top of those issues (let us know how we can help!).

They may also be looking for mild fish in simple preparations. Pacific cod, salmon, domestic catfish, shrimp; these are “gateway” seafood choices that customers are comfortable with. Sustainability no brainers like wild Alaska salmon and halibut or famed clams and mussels make it easy. Check out the Seafood Watch Super Green list for even more suggestions.

Price Driven customers can benefit from our daily specials and seasonal price breaks. Right now Wild California Sea Bass is in season and pricing is great – get it on the menu now! High quality frozen seafood is another options. Our newest cod option – Village Cove Pot-Caught Pacific Cod – is an excellent fish choice at the right price.

Image seekers? Imagine Seafood Towers piled high with king crab legs and jumbo shrimp turn heads. Big lobster tails, caviar set ups, table side preparations, whatever causes a stir – get creative!

Enthusiasts are looking for seafood choices that they can really sink their teeth into – think “Trash Fish” as popularized by Chef’s Collaborative, or any number of options that come with unique and interesting stories. Who caught this fish and where? Add some locally sourced Sablefish and Rockfish from Morro Bay, Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, Uni Roe and oysters to your menu (and make sure your menu descriptions are as mouth watering as your recipes).

We’ve got such a wide range of seafood options you’ll have no problem reaching any type of consumer. Let us know how we can help you diversify your selection!


Alaska Cod – A Sustainable Option at a Great Price

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on June 13th, 2014, in Announcements, Product Alerts

We’re now offering a great new Alaska cod option perfect for a variety of menu options at an unbeatable price!

And it’s not just a good deal – it comes with a great story.

Village Cove Alaska Cod (COD281) is “pot caught” which is good for the ocean and even better for the quality of the fish!  The cod are lured into the pot/trap using bait, and they remain inside the trap until they’re harvested.  Bringing live fish onboard the vessel where they are quickly poke bled and placed in refrigerated sea water results in a very high quality product.  This is some of the nicest cod we’ve ever worked with!

The vessels that are fishing for Village Cove are making short trips and the cod they harvest is quickly prepared for freezing (bellies trimmed, collars and tails removed).  This cod has an amazing yield!

Additionally, this cod is harvested as part of the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program.  According to NOAA, “The purpose of the program is to provide western Alaska communities the opportunity to participate and invest in BSAI fisheries, to support economic development in western Alaska, to alleviate poverty and provide economic and social benefits for residents of western Alaska, and to achieve sustainable and diversified local economies in western Alaska.”

Ask your Santa Monica Seafood Representative about Village Cove Alaska Cod today!


Talk about a Crabby Baby!

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on May 22nd, 2014, in Announcements, Sustainability

We just heard from our friends at the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology Program that Kodiak red king crab have been successfully reared at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery for release experiments!

According to this month’s News Flash,

“AKCRRAB researchers reared red king crab larvae at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish hatchery this spring. The goals of the rearing season were to produce juveniles for outplanting research and to further test and refine hatchery protocols. Akhiok residents collected adult female crabs in fall 2013 from Alitak Bay on Kodiak Island in cooperation with NOAA Kodiak lab staff, who shipped the crabs to the hatchery in Seward.

After hatching in March, larvae were fed two different diets and reared in six 1200 liter rearing tanks at a density of 50 larvae per liter. One larval diet consisted of enriched Artemia (brine shrimp) alone while the other was a mixed diet of enriched Artemia and two species of microalgae (Thalassiosira weissflogii and Chaetoceros muelleri). Survival to the glaucothoe (last larval) stage was greater than 50% for both diets, averaging 59% ± 6% standard error in tanks fed enriched Artemia alone, compared to 52% ± 2% survival in the tanks fed the mixed diet. Larval rearing temperature averaged 9°C, and rearing period to the glaucothoe stage was 27 days.

Overall, 199,920 glaucothoe were produced. The glaucothoe and juveniles are currently being reared at the hatchery, and the juveniles will be shipped to Kodiak this summer for release experiments.”

We love king crab and are invested in the future of this delicious resource through our support of AKCRRAB’s research via our RSVP Program.

(Image of Kodiak red king crab larvae produced at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in spring 2014 courtesy of Ginny Eckert)


Beyond Brisket – Pass the Smoked Fish!

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on May 16th, 2014, in Announcements, Selecting Seafood

Smoked meats are big business for restaurants – and as summer approaches, now is the right time to think about adding some smoked items to your menu! But, we’d like to encourage you to think beyond ribs and chicken and add some smoked seafood to the mix.

Feel like smoking your own?  You’re in good company!  Nation’s Restaurant News writes:

At the two Bubby’s in downtown New York City, whole animals are purchased and butchered in-house and then pit-smoked over cherry wood or apple wood.

“Pit-smoked barbecue has many lovable qualities,” owner Ron Silver said.  “People love the sweet, spicy and tangy crust, also known as bark, that forms around the meat while it slowly cooks over the smoky wood. And, of course, the smoky flavor.”

We’re more than happy to guide you through our whole fish options – perfect for smoking in house!

Don’t have the space/time/personnel for in-house butchering or smoking?  No problem.  Order up some of your favorite fish (fillets or portions) and add a smokey touch via seasonings! There’s a multitude of smoked salts on the market, along with spice blends that can add an authentic flavor to any recipe.

Or, even easier, ask your Santa Monica Seafood Sales Rep about our smoked seafood options.  We have a wide variety of choices for every menu and budget.  Traditional hot smoked salmon, flavored choices, smoked shellfish – it’s a pretty long list.  We’re sure you’ll find a way to offer your customers smoked seafood this spring - let us know what’s smokin’ up your menu!


Copper River opens on Thursday!

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on May 12th, 2014, in Announcements, Selecting Seafood

Hope you had a fantastic Mother’s Day weekend!  You have a couple days to catch your breath before the Copper River wild salmon season opens on May 15th – we’ll hope to have fish in the house from that opener a few days after… We’re always anxious about the weather this time of year, obviously it can cause problems for the fishermen as well impact flights leaving the region.  As always, we remind you to practice patience and flexibility (same goes for anyone longing for soft shells… they are coming too)!

Copper River Sockeye and Kings are some of the most publicly anticipated seasonal seafood options – your guests are waiting for them! Make the most of the great name recognition these salmon have. They’re not the least expensive fish in our inventory but your customers will recognize this fish by name and are willing to pay top dollar!

What makes these fish so special? Many claim it’s the nature of the river they are returning to, and the Copper River is particularly difficult to navigate. Therefore, these salmon are bulked up and fatty in preparation for their journey when they are caught.  Quality is the goal – fishermen make short sets so that fish can be pulled from the nets live and bled fully and quickly. Plenty of ice and many trips back to town or to a tender to deliver ensure that this Copper River salmon is delivered at the highest quality possible.

The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has plenty of information to get you and your staff ready to take advantage of this wonderful spring seafood item…


How to Have a Happy Mother’s Day

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on May 5th, 2014, in Selecting Seafood, Specials

Mother’s Day is coming up, and as we’re fond of reminding you – it’s the #1 day for dining out of the year! The flower market also goes crazy (which can cause shipping issues for fresh seafood out of South America – sort of a cargo war between perishables…)

So, we have a few bits of advice for you.

  • Help us help you!  Talk to your rep early this week about what’s going to be looking good for the weekend.   We have the ability to forecast out further on some items, and your rep can let you know what those are.  In general, farmed fish are more consistent than wild ones, and the closer to home any seafood is caught or harvested, the better.
  • Ask to see our Mother’s Day Specials Sheet if you haven’t already.  We put together a great selection of deals on some awesome items – your Santa Monica Seafood rep can email or fax you a copy today.
  • Order early – especially when it comes to frozen items.   If you need frozen seafood, order it today!  No sense waiting until Friday when you’re going to be busy (and so are we).
  • Offer plenty of healthy choices (that don’t scrimp on flavor!).  We talked about this last week, and the coming weekend is a great chance to put it into practice.  With so many seafood options available to pair with a spring bounty of local fruits and vegetables – you can’t miss!
  • Relax and have fun.  We all know that being prepared means we can enjoy the moment.  Mother’s Day is a chance for us all to celebrate – make sure you have the time and energy to do it right!

Let us know what’s on your Mother’s Day menu!


Soft Shell Crabs are Here!

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on May 2nd, 2014, in Announcements, Product Alerts

It’s looking like we’ll have more Soft Shell Crabs available in time for Mother’s Day (and maybe sooner)! The water temperatures are warming, the crabs have started to shed their shells, and watermen are out harvesting.  We did receive a small shipment this past week – hope those of you that jumped on that first order enjoyed your crabs!

Just a few reminders about ordering soft shell crabs which we bring in fresh, on a pre-order basis only. In order to make sure we deliver the best quality possible, please stick with this ordering schedule:

Once you’ve got your size, style and amount figured out, set up an ordering schedule with your sales rep. Pre-orders full trays on the following schedule (NO MONDAY OR TUESDAY DELIVERIES):

  • Order by Friday for Wednesday Delivery
  • Order by Monday for Thursday Delivery
  • Order by Tuesday for Friday Delivery

And a quick reminder on how softshells are packed:

  • Hotels / Fresh – 30 each per tray or Dressed – 60 each per tray
  • Primes / Fresh – 24 each per tray or Dressed - 48 each per tray
  • Jumbos / Fresh – 18 each per tray or Dressed – 36 each per tray

Because of the delicate nature of Soft Shells you must pre-order! Making sure your Santa Monica Seafood Representative knows you’re going to be ordering softshells this season will help ensure timely delivery, especially for Mother’s Day!


Healthy Menu Choices Keep Guests Happy

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on April 29th, 2014, in Selecting Seafood

In a recent post on, the “Critical Insights Double Agent” offers up some useful advice on “how to provide healthy food while maintaining quality and interest, and without making your customers feel like they’re being any less pampered.”   We feel strongly that seafood is one of the healthiest protein choices you can put on your menu; here are a few more ideas from the post:

Increase the vegetable count on your menu.  Move beyond salads and sides and start featuring main courses that are vegetable-focused, vegetable based soups and other choices.  And don’t be afraid to add lesser-known vegetables to the mix – customers appreciate the chance to try something they wouldn’t normally cook at home.  Feature something seasonal, like ramps or fiddleheads.

Be versatile – try some of those new healthy grains out there!  What about a side of freekah with that gorgeous wild Halibut you just got in?  Or why not add some MSC Certified Oregon Bay Shrimp to a farro salad?

The Critical Insights Double Agent would love to see the focus move from “fat free” to simply enjoying naturally low fat ingredients for what they are – delicious!   Seafood is easily enhanced by citrus – which is low in fat and delicious!  Fresh squeezed oranges, lemons and limes bring a healthy punch to any seafood entree.  We see lots of other delicious seafood and fruit combinations out there too – work some pineapple, mango or peaches into your next fish dish!

It’s all about balance – no one is suggesting you move to a non-fat, all-vegan menu (certainly not us!) but balancing out rich dishes with lighter touches and offering healthy choices throughout the menu will keep all your customers satisfied, every time they come in.


Cook for the Roses

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on April 28th, 2014, in Selecting Seafood

It’s Kentucky Derby Week!  To most people it’s all about the horses (or maybe the hats…) but what are we looking forward to?  The annual Skuna Bay Salmon Kentucky Derby Chef Challenge! After multiple rounds of cook-offs held across the country over the last couple of months the competing chefs have been narrowed down to two finalists.

You can see how the competition played out here, but in the end there were only two chefs left standing:  Chef Edward Sura of Perennial Virant in Chicago and Chef Sarah Schafer, of Irving Street Kitchen in Portland.

Don’t worry though, California will be well-represented by Chef Andrew Sutton, Signature Chef of Disney Resorts, who has been picked to be one of this year’s Finals Judges!  Chef Sutton was last year’s Skuna Bay Kentucky Derby Chef Challenge Runner Up and Finalist and he brings his experience and unique vantage point to this years competition.

May the best Chef win!


Busy Spring for RSVP Funding Recipients!

Posted by Santa Monica Admin, on April 15th, 2014, in Selecting Seafood, Sustainability

It’s been a busy spring so far for a number of organizations that we support with RSVP Funding.  Here’s an overview of some of the action!

  • Derelict Gear Removal – This is the time of year when the weather calms down enough for the Northwest Straits Foundation’s Derelict Gear Removal project to really get going on removing abandoned fishing nets and crab pots. They’ve had a busy past two months, conducting a total of 16 days of net removal off Salmon Bank, Lopez Island, Cypress Island, Rosario Strait, south San Juan and Guemes Island, Lummi Island, Alden Bank and Hood Canal.  48 derelict nets have been removed so far!
  • Fathom Consulting’s Pelagic Trawl Gear Improvement was just awarded a 320K grant from NOAAs Saltonstal-Kennedy program to conduct a full benthic survey, further building upon the support they get from Santa Monica Seafood.
  • The Central California Fisheries Research Project (CCFRP) is getting geared up for the summer 2014 research season, booking charter trips and getting volunteer anglers to help them catch fish to tag! If you live in the area and would like to get involved with the volunteer angler program, click here.
  • The World Wildlife Fund Peruvian Mahi FIP has set up an observer program for the 2014 season in Paita, and is working towards a mid-year progress meeting in August and the creation of the national Mahi management group in September. Check out this cool video that WWF Peru has produced on the Paita Mahi fishery!
  • Heal the Bay’s Key to the Sea program has educated 111 new teachers through the Key to the Sea professional development program.  These newly trained teachers translate into thousands of students from all over the Los Angeles area.  At of the end of February, Key to the Sea had brought 3358 students to the beach (many for the first time) and another 3000 students are scheduled to come this spring!

Thanks to those of you that work with us to help support positive change in our industry!