By Paul Suplee, MBA, CEC, PC-3
One of the joys of taking over a kitchen or opening a new restaurant is the amount of wooing that food brokers perform in order to gain your business.
I love this part of the process, and brokers know that it’s simply the cost of doing business. Customer service to a chef is no less important than the service that we provide our guests. But, the samples. Keep them coming.
Dry-aged steaks, fresh seafood, beautiful produce and artery-blocking desserts to top off the aforementioned arterial dreams-come-true.
While I have opened restaurants for other people, this is the first time that I have partnered in a restaurant and it is a fascinating process at the age of 50. The bureaucracy is a nightmare, the money flushes right down the toilet, and your time is no longer yours, but belongs to the county clerks, health inspectors, lawyers, brokers and the liquor board.
And I wouldn’t have it any other way. We are opening a beautiful little place in Pittsville and the renovations are just about complete, all inspections are final and now we are just waiting for the punch list to be complete and for food to start rolling in so we can work towards our soft openings.
Never one to turn down free stuff (I was the youngest of eight children, so we learned a certain degree of thrift) I was excited when a chef in New Jersey waved his hand over the table of goods and told me to take whatever I wanted. I obliged.
Among the bounty was a fresh side of salmon, so of course that went into the cooler. And last night for the family, I made some amazing salmon club sandwiches. While there weren’t three layers of bread as you would find in a traditional club, all of the critical components were there; bacon, lettuce, mayonnaise, that beautiful salmon replacing the turkey and some chilled roasted tomatoes that I had thrown together earlier in the week.
Hand-picked for us to sample, of course the salmon was bound to be perfect and it did not disappoint.
There were only five of us around the kitchen counter eating; my mother-in-law, youngest daughter, my girlfriend and her daughter, and me. Sometimes it’s just nice to stand around and eat, informally chatting while we sup. There’s just an air about an open kitchen that makes it comfortable to hang out.
Regaling ourselves with tales of the summer’s trips, fishing adventures, restaurant woes and progress, it was a lovely evening and one of those nights where the cook and cleaner (me on both counts) could casually clean everything up while everyone just sat and talked.
And after the first bite, those of us who had salmon (two cowards ate chicken), our faces did that sway with eyes closed that happen only when you eat something that is perfect. And no I’m not saying that it’s anything special that I did; read the recipe. It’s simple. But when the food is good in the beginning, and you don’t screw it up, you are bound to see that face more than once. At least this is a good part of opening this blasted place.
4 5-ounce portions fresh salmon
1/2 c. Wondra flour
1 tsp. Ground black pepper
1 tsp. Granulated garlic
1 tsp. Kosher salt
1/4 cup Brown butter or clarified butter
12 pieces thick-cut bacon
2 cups Garlic-roasted tomatoes (recipe follows)
4 of the best rolls that you can find
2 cups Baby arugula/greens mix
3 Tbsp. Roasted garlic Italian dressing
- Pat the salmon dry and set aside
- Combine the flour, pepper, granulated garlic and salt on a plate and shake it gently to level it out
- Lightly coat (dredge) the salmon with the flour mixture
- Heat the butter in a fry or sauté pan until it is just under smoking-hot
- Carefully add the salmon with the bloodline up and cook for about two minutes or until you have a nice crust on the presentation side of the fish
- Turn over gently and remove the pan from heat. The residual cooking will finish the fish, and depending on the thickness of your pan (think cast iron) it can cook it all the way through, or pull it off at medium, which is where I like it
- When the salmon is done, remove to a paper towel and allow to rest while you build the sandwiches
- Toss the greens with the dressing and place on the bottom bun
- Top with the salmon, bacon and roasted tomatoes and have at it
- For condiments, I like to stay simple with this one and use Duke’s mayonnaise and Dijon mustard
makes about 1 quart
2 cups Tomato wedges from roma tomatoes
1 Tbsp. Kosher salt
1/2 cup garlic cloves
2 cups EV Olive oil
- Toss the tomatoes in the salt in a saucepan
- Add remaining ingredients and place on a low-to-medium heat
- Do not let this boil or fry. Low and slow is the way to go
- These can take an hour or two, so don’t rush it. The flavor development that takes place is off the charts and it is well worth the wait. Plus, they keep for a long time in the fridge
- When cooked and thoroughly delicious, remove and refrigerate immediately