’Tis the season for seafood works with suppliers via Sysco’s ChefEx program. But the two also agree that a savvy chef/caterer knows when and how to work premade foods into a menu when circumstances demand it. Luckily, they—and you—have options, even when it comes to seafood. Whether you’re faced with catering a holiday event in a remote location, a high-rise building or just looking for a way to save time and labor for an on-site party, Ruggiero Seafood’s (www.ruggieroseafood.com) line of Fisherman’s Pride products has a seafood option to fit any menu need. The company’s signature calamari, available in many sizes and any combination of tubes, tentacles and cut rings, is a stand-out ingredient in any homemade seafood pasta, and Ruggiero’s breaded and battered rings offer a perfect fried calamari appetizer with a from scungilli (conch) salads, polpo (octopus) salads, mussel meat salads and calamari salads—or follow the lead of chefs Nagy and Laupies and create a station or seafood salad bar that features all of the options. Looking for another way to add seafood to your menu of seafood appetizers or stations? Consider the Signature Crab Cake Minis from Phillips Foodservice (www.phillipsfoodservice. com). At just .75 ounces each, these versatile crab cakes can be customized for any serving application and price point. Serve them on a cucumber slice with dipping sauce for passed hors d’oeuvres, or dress them up as mini crab cakes burgers for a communal small plate or platter of seafood sliders (recipe, opposite). buffet service. In a display, the smaller triangle dishes can separate foods from sauces or hold easily replenishable smallplate appetizers—like a grilled shrimp skewer (recipe, below). Front of the House’s new 7-inch Swirl Holder/Pick is ideal for skewered foods, while the 3.5- and 4.5-inch versions double as serving picks and food labels. According to Sean Brasel, executive chef of Meat Market restaurant and Touch Catering, both in Miami, Fla., small skewers and pics are a great way to serve delicate seafood. To serve passed hors d’oeuvres like his Kona Kampachi crudo, Brasel sets the fish in cilantro oil and lime-yuzu dressing before placing it on a small bamboo skewer with a baby yellow tomato. At both his restaurant and his catered events, Brasel says, diners tend to prefer beef. But his restaurant patrons also enjoy an on-site crude bar, which he often replicates off-site for banquets. Yet, the real show-stopper when it comes to showcasing seafood for such events is one of Brasel’s buildyour-own ceviche bars. Kona Kampachi crudo, by executive chef Sean Brasel of Touch Catering Presentation points As corporate customers dispense with lavish set-ups for holiday events in an attempt to save money (or manage image, perhaps), there’s even more pressure on chefs and caterers to make the provided food not only taste good, but look good as well. And like a canvas for an artist, culinary presentation starts with tableware and buffet displays. The new Mod Dinnerware Collection from Front of the House (www.frontofthehouse. com) lets chefs showcase their creations on sleek, contemporary plates and platters. The Mod dishes, available in both square and triangle shapes, are elegant enough for a seated dinner yet functional enough for grab-and-go Brasel explains the ceviche bar setup: “I usually have three bowls of base ceviches at the beginning of the bar with fresh shrimp, a plain white fish like a halibut and then maybe a salmon or tuna. We offer a real simple cure of lime, salt and pepper, and people spoon that out. Add a sauce like habañero watermelon … and choose from 15 or 20 different ingredients like watermelon, jalapeño, cilantro, scallions, pickled onions, and they stir it all up,” he says. “Usually, [the bar is] built out of ice. Obviously, the presentation is pretty dramatic.” Fisherman’s Pride Calamari Salad fraction of the normal prep time. Fisherman’s Pride also offers a number of ready-to-eat gourmet seafood salads (each available in 6-ounce, 4-pound and 8-pound sizes). Choose Pear Bureau Northwest, Milwaukie, Ore., www.usapears.com; wine pairing by Marlene Rossman Yield: 12 servings 1/2 c. honey 1/2 c. soy sauce 2 T. sesame oil 1 T. ground ginger 2 t. garlic, minced 1/2 t. red pepper flakes 2 USA pears, cored, cut into 1” cubes 36 shrimp (31/40 count), peeled and deveined 1 green bell pepper, cored, seeded and cut into 12 1” squares 12 cherry tomatoes Method (1) Whisk together honey, soy sauce, sesame oil, ground ginger, garlic and red pepper flakes; set aside. (2) Per skewer, arrange 3 cubes pear, 3 shrimp, 1 pepper square and 1 cherry tomato. (3) Place skewers in large shallow pan. Pour marinade over kabobs; refrigerate 1 hour. (4) Brush grill with oil; preheat grill. Grill kabobs over medium heat 3-5 minutes on each side until shrimp is cooked. Wine pairing: A delicious, if unusual, award-winning blend of Sauvignon Blanc and Chardonnay, Northwest Cellars Adagio 2008 (Washington) is perfect for an Asian-style prep with tomatoes, shrimp and soy. GRILLED ASIAN SHRIMP SKEWERS WITH PEARS Introducing BBQ Grilling Rubs from San Francisco Herb & Natural Food Co.® Since 1969 Suggested Retail: $4.50 ea Whsl: $2.45 ea. $29.40/per case of 12 Formulated with all natural spices & salt free to compliment any type of meats. Just apply as marinade or just before cooking and enjoy all year round on the grill, stove top, or oven. Available in a Seafood/Fish, Poultry or Beef/Meat selections containing only the finest quality spices and herbs to enhance the natural flavor of your food. www.herbspicetea.com Tel: 800-227-2830 47444 Kato Road, Fremont, CA 94538 16 | Chef www.chefmagazine.com