McCormick & Schmick's Celebrates National Seafood Month

Chef Ray sharing Stories

We had the pleasure to dine on an exceptional meal prepared by Executive Chef Ray Hayes at McCormick & Schmick's in Burbank.  Elaine Doran of E.L. Doran Public Relations and Marketing in Studio City, Calif. invited us to Chef Ray’s “Fish Academy” where we would learn the ins and outs of fish buying, ordering, preparing and eating.  Shortly after we arrived we were treated to a tour of the kitchen; a fun and unique experience and one that most people don’t get the chance to explore.  He arranged the plating, which was waiting for the final touches for the fabulous dinner Chef Ray had planned.  

He is very entertaining and he taught us lots of fish facts as well as delighting us with his wonderful tales.

Touring the Kitchen

Touring the Freezer

Chef Ray was working at a truck stop cleaning pots and pans. One day the breakfast cook was sick and Ray was told to make the breakfast and really enjoyed it.  He told the boss who said,  “ You don’t have the attitude or aptitude to become a chef.”  When the chef returned the next day she said “Go back to pots and pans, you’ll never make it in the culinary world.”  He went to the Holiday Inn across the street and they asked if he had any experience, He said “Yes, I was the breakfast chef across the street.”  They hired him and the rest is history.  

Chef Ray and his Sous Chefs

National Seafood Month is October 2007, so Chef Ray Hayes planned a very special meal for us.  Here was our menu:
Chilled 3 Lobster Soup
Maine Lobster, New Zealand Slipper Lobster, Australian Tails
Washington Apples, Parsnips,
Fresh Lemon Cream

Stuffed Cherrystone Clams

Stuffed Cherrystone Clams
Crispy Smoked Bacon, Spinach, Porcini Mushroom
Yellow Tomato Pomodoro Sauce, Belgium Anchovy
Herbed Bread Crumbs

Cooking Dinners

Kona Kampachi
Sweet & Sour Ceviche, Fresh Limes, Oranges, Cilantro,
Yellow Tomato, Bibb Lettuce, Avocado Vinaigrette,
Hand Made Tortilla Nests

Salt Crusted Arctic Charr with 250 Million Year Old Pink Salt

Salt Crusted Arctic Charr
Whole Charr Stuffed with Fresh Herbs covered in
250 million year old salt from the Himalayan Mountains
Cucumber—Dill Jelly

Salmon, Broccolini & Cucumber Jelly

Fruit and Melon Drops
With Lemon Grass Granita

Fruit and Melon Drops With Lemon Grass Granita


Chef Ray with McCormick & Schmick's Cookbook

♣    Only buy seafood from reputable, commercial sources.
♣    Buy only well-refrigerated or properly iced seafood products.
♣    Once purchased, refrigerate product immediately.
♣    For optimal freshness, use seafood products within three days.
♣    If you purchase live shellfish, (i.e., lobsters, crabs, oysters, clams and mussels) discard any that die during storage.
♣    Don’t buy cooked seafood, such as shrimp, crabs or smoked fish, if displayed in the same case as raw fish.  Cross contamination can occur.
♣    Don’t buy frozen seafood if the packages are open, torn or crushed on the edges.  Avoid packages that are above the frost line in the store’s freezer.  If the package cover is transparent, look for signs of frost or ice crystals.  This could mean that the fish has either been stored for a long time or thawed and refrozen.
♣    The little plastic signs, which list the price per pound, should be stuck into the ice (or a lemon wedge) next to the fish, not into the fish itself.
♣    When buying whole fresh fish, look for bright clear eyes, glistening skin, and very firm flesh.
♣    To check quality of fish, press index and middle finger into fish skin. The indentation should pop back very quickly.
♣    Smelling the fish is a sure way to tell quality.  Fresh fish should smell like fish, with a slight, sea-breeze odor.  Bad fish has a sour smell similar to ammonia.
♣    Thaw frozen seafood in the refrigerator or under cold running water, not at room temperature.  Marinate seafood in the refrigerator.
♣    Prevent cooked seafood products from coming into contact with raw product as well as the cutting boards and utensils used to prepare them.

Me listening Intently

♣    Equipment:  Most important equipment is a good knife.  It doesn’t have to be expensive. Anyone can fillet a fish using a very sharp knife.
♣    Cooking Time: Measure the fish at its thickest part.  Allow approximately ten minutes of cooking time per inch of thickness.
♣    Microwave:  Microwave cooking makes quick, moist fish.  Tip: Wrap fish in lettuce, no added fat, keeps in moisture, result is perfectly steamed fish that’s quick and easy to prepare.  
♣    Challenge:    Cooking fish makes the house smell bad
Solution:    Pour a little vermouth in a pan and simmer it on the stove while you’re cooking. The smell of vermouth neutralizes the smell of fish.

♣    Challenge:    Fish sticks to the grill
Solution:    Take a raw white potato, cut in half and rub it across the warm grill grates before putting the fish on it. The starch from the potato coats the grill and helps prevent sticking.
McCormick & Schmick's
Burbank California 1-818-260-0505

Photos by Lawrence Davis

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