About 40 years ago, Duke Moscrip discovered he had a passion for the restaurant business. It started over dinner one night. He was entertaining a group of friends on opening night of the first restaurant he ever invested in, Ray’s Boathouse. As the night unfolded, he watched as an entire restaurant of paying guests received poor quality service. So, he excused himself from his guests, put on an apron, and got to work.
This was the beginning of the ‘Dukeworthy’ standard. At all of Duke’s Chowder House locations, the expectation remains the same: if it’s not ‘Dukeworthy’, it’s simply not good enough.
The Origin of “Dukeworthy”
The term ‘Dukeworthy’ was actually coined years ago by Captain Mike Friccero, a dedicated Alaskan fisherman. Duke had accompanied the Captain and his crew out on a fishing trip in their boat, Miss Gina, and had succeeded in reeling in a Wild Alaskan Halibut. The fish was a little too small, however, and its skin wasn’t very vivid or bright. “That’s not Dukeworthy; throw it back,” yelled the Captain. And the phrase stuck.
What the Captain was referring to were the high standards that Duke demands of all the food destined for his restaurants. Alaskan Halibut and Salmon, in particular, are subject to stringent guidelines dictating how they are treated. In the case of Wild Alaskan Halibut, the fisherman must bleed the fish immediately and make sure it is cleaned within one hour of being reeled in. It is then stored in chilled seawater no warmer than 34 degrees Celsius or ice, and it must be delivered to the processing plant within 48 hours. An acceptable size ranges from 20-40 lbs.
Until it reaches the processing plant, Halibut destined for Duke’s is kept segregated from the catch of others, and kept on ice until it is ready to be filleted. Finally, fillets must be completely bone-free, vacuum packed and frozen before being shipped off to Seattle. And that’s just the rules for Halibut!
Duke Gets Involved
Jim Stone harvests Alaska Weathervane Scallops, and met Duke at a waterfront seafood festival some years ago. Duke raved about the sweetness of the pan-seared scallops they served him, and was determined to offer them in his restaurants. Jim was surprised, however, by the level of dedication Duke brought to his decision. He wanted to know every detail of how Jim and his colleagues collected, processed and shipped their scallops from Alaska. So, Duke boarded a plane and headed straight for the deck of the Provider, a 124′ fishing boat led by Captain Tom Minio. He demanded to be taught everything that they know.
Thus began a wonderful relationship with the scallop fishermen working with Jim Stone, both on the Provider as well as the other boats in the fleet. Affectionately called Uncle Duke by the entire crew, Duke is consistently checking the quality of the scallops destined for his restaurants. Jim says that Uncle Duke is “never afraid to give us constructive criticism if he sees any quality issue slip even just a little. This helps us keep our quality top-notch.” The scallops are caught, cleaned, sorted, boxed and frozen within four hours of capture, and they are fished in a sustainable manner. All of this adds up to a stamp of ‘Dukeworthy’ from the man himself.
Duke has spent decades traversing the state of Alaska, learning all he can about how the treatment of seafood right from the beginning of its journey affects the taste of it at the end. The high standard he expects from his fisherman and women have developed out of these first-hand experiences and illustrates the deep commitment Duke has made to his customers.
All Food, Not Just Seafood
That commitment extends beyond his customers to his grandchildren’s grandchildren, and to their grandchildren. To be ‘Dukeworthy’ doesn’t just mean to be fresh. It also demands sustainable methods of harvest and transport. Duke is passionate about making sure that the fresh, quality ingredients he loves are available for future generations.
This means that the Dukeworthy standard covers all the food served at Duke’s Chowder House, not just seafood. Duke has personally sourced the naturally grown ingredients on the menu, and is proud to serve them to his customers. He buys grass-fed beef from Australia, for example, simply because that country has never had an outbreak of E.coli. All dairy products are free of growth-hormone additives. Chickens are also hormone free, frozen fresh and transported properly to ensure top-quality taste. All of the distributors that deliver these products to Duke’s have been personally vetted and selected by Duke himself, meaning that they live up to the high level of quality he has established.
Creating a Family at Duke’s
And Duke is not alone in this endeavor. His son and partner, John, Moscrip, share the same dedication to healthy and flavorful food.
Finally, the ‘Dukeworthy’ benchmark encompasses the staff at all Duke’s Chowder House locations. Executive Chef “Wild” Bill Ranniger has worked alongside Duke for over twenty years, and heads a team of creative chefs dedicated to maintaining the ‘Dukeworthy’ standard. Great tasting food isn’t just the result of the ingredients; it’s the result of the people preparing it. When a workplace is enjoyable, promoting happiness and creativity, the outcome is consistently great tasting food. Wait staff on the floor play a big part in the success of Duke’s as well. Atmosphere complements great food, and great service contributes to the customer’s overall experience. The ‘Dukeworthy’ standard expresses the mission of every staff member, which is to bring the customer the best of everything and send them home smiling.
Over the years, Duke’s passion has created a chain of seafood restaurants that boast the highest standards of sustainability and quality. The ocean-to-table mentality seeps into every aspect of the business, and has resulted in wholesome food for every customer that walks through the door of a Duke’s Chowder House. The ‘Dukeworthy’ standard is simply a promise to deliver the highest-quality ingredients to customers while ensuring that future generations will enjoy the taste of Wild Alaskan Salmon. This is what sets Duke’s apart – if it’s not ‘Dukeworthy’, they don’t serve it. It’s that simple.
Book a reservation at one of our six locations today and experience the ‘Dukeworthy’ standard for yourself.