On the plate
Here is a partial listing of fish that may be found on menus and/or served in local restaurants.
The Florida Fish and Wildlife Conservation Commission (FWC) lists the following shallow water groupers commonly found in Gulf of Mexico and the Atlantic Ocean state and federal waters:
Lesser known in the grouper family are:
- Red hind
- Rock hind
- Yellowmouth grouper
- Tiger grouper
- Yellowfin grouper
Other popular food fish that prefer the warmer tropical and subtropical waters of the Caribbean, Gulf of Mexico and the Florida Gulfcoast:
- Mahi-mahi, also known as dolphin or dorado
- Snapper varieties like yellowtail, red, mutton and lane
In addition, farmed fishes include:
- Salmon (north Atlantic and Chile)
- Swai (sometimes called White Fish in restaurant menus
Fish native to cold Atlantic Ocean waters:
Fish native to cold Pacific Ocean waters and freshwater rivers and lakes:
- Wild salmon
- Arctic char
Considering all the food scares and recalls in the news lately, here’s more food for thought:
It’s seven o’clock and you are going out to dinner at one of Marco Island’s fine restaurants — do you know where your favorite restaurant gets its seafood? Not to worry, if Charles “Chuck” Mundt is the guy who supplies your favorite restaurant with impeccably fresh fish and seafood, you can relax and enjoy your grouper or lobster dinner!
Who the heck is Chuck Mundt?
Well, for starters, he’s the vice president of Incredible Fresh Seafood — the guy whose pristine white “Incredible Fresh Seafood” trucks are seen driving around local streets daily while delivering fresh fish and seafood to many of Marco Island’s best restaurants.
“We sell the fresh product (grouper) and in season we sell over 20,000 pounds a week. Keep in mind that’s whole fish that legally has to be 22 inches or more in length. That number approximately breaks down to yield out a little over 8,000 pounds of skinned and filleted red and black grouper sold per week in season to restaurants in the Marriott ‘s Marco Island Beach Resort Golf Club and Spa, as well as Marek’s Old Collier House, Bistro Soleil, Snook Inn, Kretch’s, Little Bar and Verdi’s to name a few ,” Chuck Mundt stated adding that some other locally popular smaller species like yellowtail snapper and pompano can be caught smaller and are usually sold whole to the aforementioned restaurants and retail seafood markets such as Marco’s Paradise Seafood on Bald Eagle Drive and Incredible Fresh Seafood’s company-owned retail outlet, Captain Jerry’s Fish Market at Wynn’s in Naples.
That having been said, back to the Island’s favorite seafood buzz word. What people don’t understand is there are many different types of grouper, Mundt explained.
“Grouper isn’t only what people call gulf grouper – if it came from Panama it’s subjective. Here on the island it depends on who is doing the cooking – the sign of a successful restaurant is consistency of the chef and consistency of service – we try to do the same thing,” Mundt declared, “With me it’s quality product, quality service at a fair price and a successful restaurant strives for the same thing.
“Seafood is a totally different entity and it changes daily. Meat is meat. If it’s a good grade it can be aged to enhance tenderness and taste — but did you ever hear of anyone aging fish? If it’s not fresh we won’t sell it. What I try to do (regarding grouper prices), because some restaurants have to serve it on the menu at a set price while market conditions change daily, is give those restaurants the opportunity to offer less expensive alternatives to sell alongside to offset the cost of the grouper, Mundt said, explaining that his customers count on him to make suggestions.
I almost create a partnership. Some I’ve been selling to for about 20 years. My goal is to supply them with the freshest product to benefit the both of us. They count on me to keep them advised of market specials — you don’t develop that kind of trust on thin air and unfulfilled promises. Equally, our customers can also rely on Rich Cahoon, a native of Sandwich, Mass., my partner here in Naples for 20 years since 1989 when we opened a little retail store, The Naples Fish Company, and grew from there. In addition, it’s been almost a year since we moved from a small space we rented across the street to our state of the art seafood business at 4176 Mercantile Avenue in Naples. Also, May marks one year since we took ownership of Capt. Jerry’s Seafood, our Naples retail store located in Wynn’s Market, 141 Ninth Street N.”
Last but not least — here’s one special bit of news that’s additional cause to celebrate on the upcoming Mother’s Day holiday. Last week, Chuck Mundt told your Eagle reporter that plentiful harvests and other market conditions for northern cold water lobster “will cause lobster prices to dramatically decrease in time for Mother’s Day!”