Clawing Their Way to the Top: Q&A with Up and Comers, Cousins Maine Lobster

Clawing Their Way to the Top: Q&A with Up and Comers, Cousins Maine Lobster

Cousins Maine Lobster is not your typical lobster offering. You won’t find them serving hot, buttered lobster over a white tablecloth with champagne and caviar. Instead, you’ll find them slinging out traditional, buttered and toasted split-top rolls filled with chilled Maine lobster meat from their 19 food trucks, the way owners (and cousins) Jim Tselikis and Sabin Lomac say it should be.

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This Humble Seaweed Snack Company Will Make $10 Million This Year

This Humble Seaweed Snack Company Will Make $10 Million This Year

Today’s successful brands all seem to have a number of highly successful characteristics in common. Maybe they’ve positioned themselves as “the first”, maybe they’re focused on being healthy, or being authentic, or maybe they just have a great story. But these brands usually tend to have another attribute in common; they’ve got some money to get started

But sometimes, brands have just the right combination of successful attributes to become booming businesses. 

SeaSnax, for example, began as a mother-father team who just wanted to give their daughter a better alternative to the unhealthy, high-sodium, corn oil-laden seaweed snacks that were already on the market. According to Entrepreneur, Jin Jun began experimenting in her kitchen and soon had the first snack approved by her seaweed-loving toddler, combining the flavors of seaweed, olive oil, and salt. 

At that point, Jun and her husband found a manufacturing facility to make the snacks. They maxed out their credit cards to pay for their first orders. 

"They really thought we were crazy and that we were wasting our time and money," Jun says.

It wasn’t easy from the get-go. Jun and her snacks were rejected from every farmer’s market in LA. She was on the phone six hours a day trying to sell the snacks, only sleeping 3 hours a day until she was able to get her snacks on the shelves at a local Whole Foods. Then, Yahoo featured SeaSnax as one of the "10 healthiest snacks" on their homepage. 

Today, SeaSnax are sold at 6,000 stores around the world and have expanded to include an array of different flavors and items like seaweed flakes and a salad mix. 

This year, the company is on track to do $10 million in sales. The trick to their success?Authenticity. 

"It was a combination of sincerity and naivety. We were able to build a very loyal customer following… because I hear time and time again that people can trust us," Jun says. "My daughter sets the bar. If I wouldn't feed it to my daughter, I wouldn't feed it to a customer."

SeaSnax doesn't even really have a marketing plan.

“[W]hat has worked for our brand is our sincerity and our willingness to share and give. We don't spend a whole lot of money on fancy shows or websites or paying for Facebook likes. Everything we've ever done is not advertised, it's done quietly and humbly.”

For more on this story, visit “Entrepreneur.”

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Baiting Guests with Underutilized Fish Species: Serving Delectable, Sustainable Seafood

Baiting Guests with Underutilized Fish Species: Serving Delectable, Sustainable Seafood

Michael Cimarusti is the Executive Chef at Providence in Los Angeles and Connie and Ted’s in West Hollywood, both seafood-centric restaurants. He also opened his own seafood market, Cape Seafood and Provisions which heavily promotes sustainability.

So Cimarusti is clearly a seafood expert, so he’s the guy you should talk to before you cook any fish dish.

When people cook fish, they usually stick to a number of classic preparations but in an interview with The Splendid Table’s Russ Parsons, Cimarusti shares some of the best techniques you may not have heard of for cooking certain species of fish and supporting sustainability.

Some key tips:

Brining

The most common preparation for fish is, ironically, wet brining. Best for use with fish you plan to grill, brining in a 5-7 percent salt solution is a classic step in allowing fish to form a pellicle, a sticky coating on the surface of the fish that seals in flavor. Dry brining is another option, especially for those looking to eat fish raw. Simply put sea salt on a filet of fish and let it rest until the fish begins to sweat.

Roasting

With larger fish, you can roast a large filet, let it rest and then separate into single serving portions. When applying roasting to fish, Cimarusti says, you wind up with different results and textures and a cooking that’s far more consistent.

In the below excerpt from the interview, Cimarusti explains that just because a species is not a classic does not make it any less delicious. In fact, these species can be top of the line and cost much, much less.

Russ Parsons: One of the big problems with seafood in America is that we still concentrate on one or two species – shrimp, salmon, things like that – but those are getting scarcer and less sustainable.

Michael Cimarusti: And more expensive.

RP: But, there are lots of other fish that are plentiful, delicious, and completely sustainable. What are some of the ways for a cook who may not be familiar with those fish to approach them?

MC: There are so many different ways. Smaller fish like sardines and anchovies, anchovies specifically, if you are going to cook them at all, the best thing you can do is salt them and throw them on the grill. It's almost true for sardines as well, unless you get really big sardines, in which case you might filet them or butterfly them open and cook them in different ways. Mackerel is sort of the same thing. I love mackerel grilled. When we get what are called tinker mackerel – which are smaller mackerel – we take them, debone them, butterfly them open, and grill the skin side just briefly. We then pull them off the grill and brush them with an herb oil. At this point, the flesh has not been touched by any direct heat at all. Brush the flesh with a little herb oil, a little squeeze of lemon juice, and put breadcrumbs over the top of it with lots of extra-virgin olive oil. Finish it in the broiler so it gets crispy and golden brown. Underneath, you have the grilled flavor of the fatty fish and this beautiful herb oil that's just a little spicy from red chili flakes, and it's incredible. That's a fish that, at the most, it's going to cost you six or seven dollars in a fish market, but they're incredibly delicious. They're low on the food chain and they're plentiful. But go and try to find one; it’s a very difficult fish to find. That's because it's a low-value species. It's not worth a lot to the fisherman, so you don't see a lot of them on the market, which is a real shame.

Read the whole interview at “The Splendid Table.”

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DoorDash is Using Its Technology to Give Back to the Needy

DoorDash is Using Its Technology to Give Back to the Needy

By law, restaurant owners cannot serve leftover food to guests the following day. So, what is a chef or restaurateur to do with all the extra food?

You could always have employees take some home, but what if you still have more after that?

According to “Fast Company,” “An average restaurant might waste 100,000 pounds of foods a year.”

Enter DoorDash. This food delivery company is using its algorithm to help restaurant owners with a surplus of food finding a person to deliver it to the nearest shelter caring for hungry homeless people, for example.

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Smog City Shows Off LA's Creative Craft Brewing Scene

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On this episode of "Beer Artisan," we see how LA’s young breweries have fostered a tightly-knit community with brewers who are not afraid to push the envelope. Los Angeles' brew scene is fairly young with some of the city's veteran breweries only dating back to 2011. However, in that short span of time, LA has churned out some of the coolest, most diverse brews created from some of the coolest, most diverse brewers.

Smog City began brewing in October 2011 before they even had their own space, using Tustin Brewing’s brewpub to distribute their brews to restaurants and bars throughout Los Angeles County. This allowed head brewmaster Jonathan Porter and the team to establish a presence in the craft beer community.

“We started by renting a warehouse nearby and sort of brewing and selling, and delivering on the weekend and after work, and that paid off in dividends because by the time we opened the doors here we already had a reputation,” he said.

By 2013, Smog City had purchased its own full-scale brewing equipment, formalized plans for their new brewery and taproom in Torrance, and began brewing in their own brewery. Since then, Porter and Smog City have won three Great American Beer Festival medals for their Coffee Porter, Kumquat Saison, and Sabre-Toothed Squirrel brews.

Co-owner and Manager, Laurie Porter points out that Smog City brews are not dictated by their consumer base, but an embodiment of their characters.

“You’re really saying 'Okay, here’s us — put it in a bottle!' If you like it, then you respond to our brand. If you don’t like it, there’s another brand out there that you’re really gonna love. We’re not land grabbing everybody,” she said.

By doing so, Smog City plays to the craft beer mentality of "the rising tide floats all ships."