This month we’re headed into the kitchen to chat with Chef Andrew Gruel, CEO and Founder of SlapFish Restaurant Group. As a professional restaurateur, Chef Andrew shares a unique perspective on seafood. Today, he clears up misconceptions about fish preparation and shares how simple it can be to pull together a delicious seafood meal. What better way to learn more about seafood than from a professional chef? Let’s dive right in!
Tell us about yourself and your background as a chef.
I always consider myself a cook, not a chef. That’s where it all started, the love of cooking. I grew up watching PBS cooking shows and falling in love with basic “dump and stir” television. I never thought it would become my life. Once I fully committed, it was about soaking up as much knowledge as possible in as many environments as possible.
What is your favorite way to cook seafood, and what is your favorite seafood dish to make (either at work or in your spare time)?
My favorite way to cook seafood is stovetop to oven. It’s a combo technique. I don’t love to grill seafood because I hate watching those delicious juices drip into the grill. But I do love the light caramelization of a hard heat on seafood. The perfect technique in my opinion is a hard sear in a pan, flip the seafood, add some liquid and aromatics and transfer to the oven. Best of both worlds!
Many are intimidated by cooking seafood at home. What is your advice for these aspiring seafood chefs? Can you share a tip for seafood prep?
Seafood is so simple to cook because it doesn’t require “muscle.” By that I mean you don’t need to use high heat and bold flavors. On its own, seafood is naturally sweet and full of flavor. Therefore, I always recommend just lightly rubbing a fish filet down with olive oil, fresh herbs, salt, pepper, a touch of citrus zest and slow roasting it in a 250° F oven for about 30 minutes. You are left with a meltingly tender piece of fish. Some might call it “confit”.
What is the biggest misconception about seafood?
The biggest misconception people have about seafood is that it is boring. Seafood is the most amazing protein out there. Think about how many species there are to try; how many flavors, textures, and preparations. Seafood is sexy.
What’s your favorite thing to eat at your restaurant Slapfish?
Tacos. With our amazing variety of fish, nothing is better than enjoying 10 tacos a day with different tastes and flavors. Is that too much??