We’re very excited about this month’s “Dishing With…” guest, Chef Mike Grimes of Tampa Maid Foods. Born and raised in Florida, Chef Mike has been a fan of seafood all his life. Although his culinary career had a late start, he’s making up for it now with an impressive list of accolades and accomplishments.
Chef Mike graduated Valedictorian of the Cordon Bleu program at the Orlando Culinary Institute and took post-graduate classes at the Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, NY. From there, he pursued his love of fine dining by joining the culinary team at Blackberry Farm, which eventually led him to his current position as Corporate Chef and Manager of Culinary Services for Tampa Maid Foods, a seafood company based in Lakeland, Florida..
We sat down with Chef Mike to learn more about his passion, his go-to seafood favorites and advice for cooking seafood at home.
Seafoodies, meet Chef Mike Grimes.
Tell us about yourself and your background as a chef.
In my professional role I’m the Corporate Chef and Manager of Culinary Services for Tampa Maid Foods located in Lakeland, Florida. I’m responsible for the development and administration of all culinary functions at Tampa Maid as they relate to recipes, new product ideation and applications, product training and presentations of Tampa Maid’s products in the marketplace.
I grew up watching Julia Child instead of Saturday morning cartoons; however, becoming a chef was actually a second career for me. It was after a long stint in the advertising industry that I finally gave in to my passion for food and went to culinary school.
Pursuing a love of fine dining, I joined the culinary teams at Blackberry Farm and then Disney’s Victoria & Albert’s. I was able to bring my business experience together with the culinary arts to serve as the Corporate Recipe Development Chef for Publix Super Markets from 2006 until 2013, after which I was welcomed to Tampa Maid Foods.
I’ve been blessed to have worked with some of the world’s most talented culinary professionals and serve as personal chef assistant to celebrity chefs Martin Yan and Alton Brown. I had the pleasure of being a featured chef at the South Beach Food & Wine Festival and I’ve presented culinary concepts to guests at Disney’s EPCOT Food & Wine Festival for five consecutive years. I still serve regularly as a featured culinary contributor to national publications. And I’m very proud to be in the National Fisheries Institute’s Future Leaders class of 2019.
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 wife always says my grilled swordfish is the reason she married me; however, I really prefer to cook most of my seafood in a simple sauté pan. Whether it’s a fish filet, shrimp, scallops or mussels, I find that a light coating of oil, some simple seasonings and a quick toss in a hot sauté pan generally produces an elegant dish very quickly and easily.
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?
First off, it’s important to remember that it’s only food. The fish won’t bite you back even if it’s unhappy with the way you prepared it. Don’t be afraid to try. Start simply, with just some oil and butter in a pan, and a nice filet of fish or other whole-muscle seafood. Don’t over-season or over-sauce. Fish is usually very mild and delicate; you don’t want to overpower its natural flavor.
My most important piece of advice is … don’t overcook it! Overcooked seafood is tough, dry and flavorless. Aim for medium-rare and you’ll be fine.
What is the biggest misconception about seafood?
Probably the one misconception I hear most often is that cooking seafood at home will stink up your house. I think that’s more often used as an excuse from people who’ve never actually cooked seafood at home. Fresh quality seafood will not make your house smell fishy. It will, however, create a sweet, delicious aroma that will bring your family to the table asking when dinner will be ready.
The same goes for those who avoid seafood with a blanket statement of, “I don’t like fish.” That’s usually a cover for people who are simply afraid to try new things. The endless variety of styles, flavors and textures you can find under the broad heading of “seafood” means there is something out there for everyone. Be courageous and try it. You will like it.
My philosophy on food is that every plate is a new beginning. A new opportunity for imagination and creativity. A chance to both entertain and educate. Because I love teaching people about food, the first thing I always teach is that food should make you happy. Any food that makes you smile is good for you.
What’s your favorite seafood dish when dining out?
If there are fresh New England cold water oysters on the menu, you’ll need to sit back and get comfortable; I’ll be there for a while. Same goes for all-you-can-eat snow crab legs; I’m pretty sure I’m the reason they have harvest quotas.
There’s a place here in Florida that does broiled rock shrimp. I won’t tell you how many dozen I’ve eaten in one sitting, but I did notice they no longer have the all-you-can-eat option on the menu. Coincidence?
Will you share one of your favorite seafood recipes with us?
Of course! This Seared Roughy with Asian Glaze Shiitakes is a crowd pleaser.
Seared Roughy with Asian Glaze and Shiitakes
- 1/4 cup canola oil
- 2 Tbsp. sesame oil
- 3 Tbsp. prepared teriyaki glaze
- 1/4 cup Asian sweet chile sauce
- 1 cup shiitake mushrooms, stems removed, thinly sliced
- 4 Orange Roughy filets (or halibut); about 1 1/2 lb.
- 1 tablespoon toasted black and white sesame seeds, mixed
- 1/4 cup green onions, thinly sliced on the bias
- Evenly trim fish filets, removing dark flesh and thin portions. Stir together canola and sesame oils until blended. Stir together teriyaki glaze and chile sauce until blended; set both aside.
- Preheat large sauté pan on medium-high, 2–3 minutes. Toss mushrooms with 3 tablespoons of the oil and arrange in pan. Cook 1–2 minutes or until lightly toasted. Remove from pan and set aside.
- Brush both sides of fish gently with oil mixture and place in pan; cook 1–2 minutes or until lightly golden. Turn fish and cook 1–2 more minutes. Spoon sauce evenly over fish, cover pan and turn heat off; let stand 1–2 minutes or until fish is gently cooked through.
- Transfer each filet to a plate and top with a little more of the Asian glaze. Sprinkle with sesame seeds, garnish with green onions, and sliced shiitakes. Serve.