At Duke’s Chowder House, we are committed to serving the finest-quality ingredients. That’s why I personally source everything that comes into our kitchens, getting familiar with every detail of that food and its journey to your plate.
When it comes to seafood, I am especially particular about the details. I want to be sure that I’m serving my customers the highest-quality, most sustainable seafood available. I’ve spent decades researching the best way to catch, preserve and transport seafood, and I’m proud to say that the Duke’s system is the best around. That’s why we have the best tasting seafood on the planet!
One of the reasons I insist on sourcing quality seafood is flavor. The taste of salmon, halibut, and shellfish is directly impacted by the way it is handled upon catching or harvesting. Preserving that fresh, clean flavor for my customers is my highest priority, and I take it seriously.
This is part of the origin of the term “Dukeworthy.” It encompasses our mission to provide high quality, delicious Wild Salmon, and Seafood. An Alaskan fishing captain by the name of Mike Friccero coined the term years ago. He had graciously allowed me to accompany him and his crew on his boat, the Miss Gina, during a fishing trip, and we successfully hauled in a Wild Alaska Halibut. However, the fish was a little too small, and the skin wasn’t very vivid or bright. “That’s not Dukeworthy; throw it back in the water,” yelled the Captain. And the phrase stuck.
If you’ve ever eaten a veggie right from the garden or cooked a trout caught that day, you know what fresh tastes like. The natural flavor of the food is so vibrant and strong that it enhances the overall quality of the dish. This is what we strive for with every dish at Duke’s Chowder House. That immediate burst of flavor is a huge part of what makes a memorable meal.
That’s why I’ve worked with fishermen and processors in Alaska for decades, developing best practices for the handling of all seafood destined for Duke’s. Our providers have earned the name “Dukeworthy” for their attention to detail, every step of the way. For instance, this is the procedure to be followed for every Wild Alaskan Halibut caught for our customers…
- Bleed the fish immediately after capture and thoroughly.
- Clean fish within one hour.
- Ice or immerse in refrigerated sea water (RSW) immediately after bleeding and throughout time before delivery to the processing plant. Maximum temperature is 34 degrees F.
- One to two-day-old fish only.
- Segregate fish on board by day of catch to ensure only one/two-day-old fish.
- Size between 20-40 lbs.
- Accept only fish 34 degrees F maximum, clear eyes, firm flesh, skin bright.
- Keep Duke’s fish segregated throughout processing.
- Graded #1. No chalky (visual or taste) halibut accepted.
- Keep fish iced prior to processing, maximum temperature 34 degrees F.
- Fillet, deep-skin, completely bone free, vacuum pack and then freeze at 10 degrees below zero or colder at the processing plant.
This system has been developed over time to preserve that beautiful natural taste of Wild Alaskan Halibut, which is so crucial to a delicious Halibut dish. In addition, this method keeps the fish as nutritionally intact as possible, which is important to those looking for a delicious, wholesome meal. Flavor is everything in the restaurant industry, and our seafood is the best in the business when it comes to good taste.
Sustainability is Key
Other than flavor, I am extremely demanding when it comes to sustainability and the proper management of our food sources. This is, in part, why I source Wild Salmon and Halibut, as well as many types of shellfish, directly from Alaska. Alaska boasts the most rigorous guidelines for its fisheries, entirely geared towards sustainability and preservation for future generations.
I am passionate about making sure that the fresh, quality ingredients I love are available for decades to come. My grandchildren and their grandchildren deserve access to quality food for their entire lives, and this includes seafood.
It’s also important to our customers; more and more people are questioning where their food comes from, how it was caught, grown, and harvested. ‘Organic’ and ‘wild’ aren’t simply buzzwords, but rather a deep societal change in how we approach our food. Sustainability addresses a variety of issues related to our health, the environment, and the economy.
That’s why we keep our guests informed about their food choices. As a consumer, the customer has the ultimate power to pressure businesses, the government and the food industry into adopting more sustainable practices. That’s why Duke’s Chowder House is proud to partner with initiatives such as SmartCatch that provide information to consumers about their food choices. SmartCatch is a program that works with chefs to add sustainable seafood options to their menus. Duke’s is also honored to have the highest restaurant rating in Washington State from Fish2Fork, an agency dedicated to helping keep consumers up-to-date and aware of the seafood going onto their plates.
My deepest commitment is to ensure that future generations have the same access to wholesome, delicious food as we do. For this reason, Duke’s is constantly striving towards the highest standards of sustainability and quality; we buy local when we can and work hard to support sustainable food networks elsewhere when we can’t. Honestly, it’s just the right thing to do.
You Can’t Beat Fresh
I have a shocking statistic to share with you. Many restaurants claim to serve up ‘fresh’ seafood on their menus. However, that seafood can be up to twenty-seven days old!
That’s right. That ‘fresh’ salmon you’re eating could be three weeks old, and here’s the kicker: the restaurant you’re eating at doesn’t even know it!
Fresh fish have two major enemies: time and temperature. Consistently controlling those two elements is essential to locking in the delicious flavor of fresh-caught Salmon or Halibut. And one of the ways to do that effectively is through the practice of ‘freezing at the source.’
A fish that isn’t frozen immediately could sit on a runway for days waiting for transport. And don’t be fooled into thinking Alaska is cool enough to keep fish at a safe temperature. On a summer day, a black tarmac at the airport can get as hot as 90 degrees. Combined with other factors such as bad weather, delayed processing, and rough seas, there are just too many variables to try and control. Unless you are assured and can trust that the fish was caught two days ago and iced properly, stick with Duke’s way of ‘freezing at the source.’
That’s why I am committed to knowing every single step of the journey Duke’s seafood takes from ocean-to-table, and why I insist on freezing the fish as close to capture as possible. It’s the ultimate secret to preserving the freshness of Wild Salmon and Halibut, and consistently delivering that quality to our customers.
Come in and try the best tasting seafood on the planet! Book a reservation at one of our six locations and let us show you the true meaning of fresh.