Always Giving You Options

Our crab isn’t just for crab cakes! A large part of my job is bringing new and exciting recipes and ideas on how to use our delicious and versatile crab meat. When I travel to present our crab allot of thought goes into what dishes to serve. We have periods in the Spring and Fall, where we are in serving customers almost every week, many times in multiple cities simultaneously. I try to set a few recipes into the rotation for each season, one hot, one cold and one interactive. Over the years we have done so many dishes I forgot about half of them until I am reminded by one of our sales team or brokers. We have done quiches, croquettes with bacon tomato jam, endless dips and salads, steak Oscar on a stick, mini crab Benedicts with poached quail eggs…the list goes on and on. We try to stay on top of or even better ahead of the trends. Our crab can be utilized to give you a dish that is not only on trend, utilizing the latest hot ingredient or preparation style, but also something your guests will craze and be excited to see added to the menu. For the Fall shows this year we went with a NOLA theme. Rich andouille and crab gumbo made with our claw meat, an herbaceous Crab Ravigote dip made with our backfin crab and Peppadew peppers filled with a warm, classic Creole crab gratin. Next week I will be in Ft. Lauderdale and it is going to be HOT! So we will be serving a chilled watermelon, heirloom tomato and crab gazpacho, a chilled crab salad on crostini and a tropical crab and mango ceviche in a spicy coconut citrus sauce and served over warm mini plantain pancakes. The ideas and applications keep coming as the seasons change and new menu ideas and ingredients move into the forefront on menus across the country.

Soups On!

As the Winter months are upon us, I find myself in the mood for soup. As the former Corporate Chef of two soup companies, I better know how to make a good one and as the Corporate chef of Newport International, it better have some crab in the recipe! From creamy and rich to light and fresh crab and soup go hand in hand. From making a recipe from scratch to elevating a premade soup by simply “just adding crab” you can wow your guests every single time. The recipes will keep coming, now go out and get some crab and start cooking!

It’s Time For That Holiday Party!

Well, as 2018 is slowly coming to a close everyone is getting ready for those big Holiday parties. If you are looking for that perfect dish to impress your guests, look no further, it is all about the crab! This week the Newport team will be gathering at our company headquarters in beautiful, and hopefully sunny, St. Petersburg, Florida. As a company obsessed with providing the best crab meat on the market, I can guarantee you that crab will be on the menu throughout the entire Holiday season. Over the weekend I even got a photo of some killer looking crab cakes that our fearless leader of sales, Craig “Big Hoss” Hospodor, made for his family using his favorite crab cake recipe (which just happens to be mine and readily available on our recipe page). From using our crab as the signature ingredient in a recipe like a crab cake or using it as a garnish to elevate almost any dish on the menu, the result will be the same, happy guests. As a Chef, nothing makes me happier than to watch friends and family enjoy the fruits of our labor and my friends and family seem to really appreciate when crab is part of that experience. From cranberry and crab crostini to roasted parsnip soup with charred jalapeno, pickled apple and crab, the options are only limited by your imagination. Our crab works perfectly in all types of recipes and elevates the party from run of the mill to one you want to grab your phone post photos before you even take that first bite. So, as you are planning that big Christmas or New Year’s shindig, be sure to not forget the crab!

Happiest of Holidays from the entire Newport Team!

Cheers,

Chef John

Elvis Has Left The Building

Well we closed out the Fall 2018 Show Season with a bang this year. Over the past almost decade with Newport International we have continued to raise the bar on how we present our crab meat to our customers. Long gone are the days of just serving the crab, or even a crab cake for that matter. We continue to show how versatile an ingredient our crab can be for our customers. From breakfast items to the most sophisticated entrée, from seashore classic like crab bisque to on trend and somewhat left of center items like the low country crab ramen we were serving this season, from Asian to Latin and every cuisine in between, our crab works and your customers will keep coming back. We love what we do and we have the best product in the business to work with. We enjoyed seeing all of you over the past few months and hope you enjoyed the crab! Until next year!

Did You Say Low Country Crab Ramen???

Alright so I have our new hot and cold dishes all set for the upcoming show season and now I get to be even more creative, you know show them something they have never seen before, maybe never even considered. The idea started when I went on a ramen tour in Japan with my good friend Nick. He works for a company out of Japan who just happens to make the most amazing ramen broths, among other items. The one that I wanted was his Tonkotsu, or super rich pork and chicken bone broth. Alright so we’ve got a killer ramen broth and some delicious crab meat, what’s next. I need to keep it simple enough to be able to make a few hundred individual portions while still being able to talk to customers and serve our other dishes. I also did not want to go traditional, because, well that isn’t really pushing the envelope. So we went with traditional ramen noodles that anyone who spent any time in a college dorm is more than familiar with. We need something else, something green. We will add some sliced scallion, ok, but we are still missing something. Bacon braised collard greens? Heck ya! Rich pork broth, soft ramen noodles, smoky collard green with a little pop from some vinegary hot sauce, crunchy bright scallions and finished with some sweet, delicate chilled crab. Low Country Crab Ramen.

Stay tuned for recipes, coming soon,
Chef John

Crab Queso Anyone?

As we were preparing for the beginning of show season and deciding what dishes we will serving our customers in the following months all across the country, I was busy trying to figure out a new hot dish to serve in place of our tried and true (and always well received) Maryland Style Hot Crab Dip. The key to the dish is that it is delicious (of course), rich, creamy, a little cheesy and has just enough spice to not only bring you back for another bite, but also not overpower our delicate crab met. The other big part is that it seems to appeal to all sorts of restaurant concepts and I always joke with our customers that will sell a lot of beer because what goes better with a hot cheesy crab dip than and ice cold beer. Well, it was time for a change and the inspiration was from of my favorite Texas taco spots, Torchy’s and their highly addictive queso dip. If you have ever spent anytime amount of time in Texas, you know how to quickly combine a package of Velveeta with some Rotel tomatoes in a bowl and after a few minutes in the microwave all you need to do is grab some chips. Well Torchy’s takes theirs to another level by layering in roasted green chilies, fresh chilies and cilantro, among a few other ingredients. This led to our new Crab & Green Chile Queso! Velveeta, sharp cheddar, Mexican spices, fresh cilantro, lime juice, roasted green chilies and both fresh and roasted jalapenos. Finish with some of our crab meat at the last minute and you have got a killer hot dip. The response so far has been excellent and we hope to see our crab queso on menus across the country.

More to come,
Chef John

It is Show Season!

Well, we are officially in the midst of our Fall show season. This means allot of planning, allot of travel and allot of work by our entire team. For me it is the opportunity to show just how versatile our delicious crab meat can be. This year we kicked of the season in Houston, Texas. Now even though I live in New Jersey now, I did just happen to spend a large part of my childhood living in Texas and with my Mother’s entire family still living there I better know how to cook for a Texas audience. We usually try to show some variety in the dishes we choose to sample at these show to appeal to as broad of an audience as possible and to get everyone on the same page with our mantra of “it isn’t just for crab cakes!”. We usually try to have at least one hot dish and one cold dish to sample and I like to do one dish that is very left of center. We love to hear our customers say “ I never thought of doing that with crab”. We know everyone loves our tried and true “Craig’s Killer Crab Salad” named for our fearless sales leader, Mr. Craig Hospodor, but I had to break the news to him that I wanted to change it up for the season with the Houston show being the catalyst of change. We talked through the changes, replace the signature celery seed in the recipe with some smoky chipotle and cumin, add some roasted corn, black bean and fresh chopped cilantro and you go from “Craig’s Killer Crab Salad” to our new “Spicy Southwest Crab Salad”. Well that is one dish down now we need a great hot item to replace our standard “Maryland Style Hot Crab Dip” and I still have room to make something funky.

More to come,
Chef John

Summer Fancy Foods Show NYC

Last week was the annual East Coast Fancy Foods show held at the Jacob Javits Center in New York City. We do not present our products at this show but I make a point to attend every year to try and keep my finger on the pulse of new and developing trends in the prepared food industry. This year was especially interesting as I walked the show with a large group covering many aspects of the food industry. Our group included people from all aspects of the business, including airlines, caterers, importers, group buyers and specialty manufacturers. The bulk of our group all share membership in the RCA (Research Chef Association) and therefore, also know a good number of the over 2,000 vendors represented at the show.
This is a massive show, covering multiple floors and rooms of the convention center, with a very unique layout. The bottom floor is dedicated to new or up and coming products and is segmented by state or country of origin for each manufacturer (which gives a great insight into regional trends). Many of these products are created for and launched at this show, with the hopes of finding an anchor customer at the show to bring the product to market. Unfortunately, many of these products never come to market. This is also very true as you walk the show and see the same trend (or niche product) being shown in similar forms at multiple vendor’s booths. The second floor is for established companies (some of which will also show new products in addition to their established product line) and is segmented by an International area (by country) and domestically by category (i.e. cheese or chocolate).

Working with a team we set parameters to identify and record trends and to identify opportunities relative to each person’s company for items that would work in their wheelhouse or where raw material supply could be an option (like with our crab meat). The rule is that once you see the same item/concept 3 or more times at the show it is added to the list. Attending every year also gives a perspective of development of a category or trend over the years.
Here is the rough list from the show;

– One trend that continues to grow is detailed benefit call outs on packaging and marketing materials. This could be anything from “Non-GMO” to “gluten free” or the new super popular “good source of protein”. Sometimes it seems like the benefits of the product drive the interest more than the product itself.
– Alternative sweeteners – this trend continues to grow and become truly mainstream, white sugar is out, this year honey and maple syrup in all forms took the lead (years past it was Agave). One of our favorite products was a smoked maple syrup from Vermont, clean label.
– Alternative Protein continues to move to the forefront, it isn’t just tofu any more. Plant based protein in all types of products from meal replacement to energy bars
– Eggs are big in all types of forms and applications. From premade egg white crepes to the surprising number of vendors showing artisan marshmallows (at least 10 different examples at the show)
– International flavors in spices and finished goods. From Africa to Jamaica to India, expect to see these flavors in items and on menus this year.
– Flavored waters and unique non-alcoholic beverages. From maple water to cold brew coffee and premium teas. Teas and items flavored with tea was another big category.
– Nut and seed based items, almond milk morphs into nut or flax based crackers
– Peanut replacers – nut butter anyone
– Artisan chocolates and fudge (fudge was big!)
– Activated Charcoal, from snacks to toothpaste
– Snacks with health benefits, activated ingredients, energy bars
– Kid driven items – from edible chocolate birthday candles to “food paint” (squirt bottles with pureed fruits and vegetables)
– Popcorn – in all forms from simple to super fancy
– Artisan and specialty ice cream – from handmade/regional to dairy free, this category keeps going
– Pickled everything – even some pickled cucumbers
– Regional specific items – my favorite was sea salt from Maine and Oregon. You need this to cook your lobsters or Dungeness crab!
– Dry or dehydrated items – from soup mixes to dips and veggie chips taking off where the crispy snow peas opened the door a few years ago
– There were also allot of categories that continue to grow
o Fermented items – Kimchi continues to develop
o Jerky and meat sticks everywhere – this year added palnt and vegetable based items, mushroom jerky sound good?
o Gluten free – everything (even if just a non necessary call out)
o Plant based protein

It’s Not Just For Crab Cakes

It has kind of become our mantra at Newport International over the past decade. We all love a good crab cake and it is the most popular application for our crab meat, however, there are so many other exciting, seasonal recipes to showcase our fantastic product. That being said, we are coming into one of my favorite culinary times of year, Summer. So many of many my favorite ingredients to cook with at the peak of flavor, from vine ripe tomatoes (we are known for our tomatoes in NJ!), sweet corn, peaches, watermelon (one of my kid’s favorite foods) and the list goes on. It also means entertaining, whether it’s a cookout for family after a day of boating or a gourmet meal for friends coming to visit us on the Jersey Shore. Needless to say, no matter what the occasion, crab will be on the table at our house. So to kick off the Summer I have created some new recipes as well as reworking and updating some classics. I will be posting new recipes throughout the next weeks so please check back often! You can also check our Facebook pages to see where we will be showing our products at regional food shows in the coming months. PS, in case you were wondering about crab and Rosé (what seems to be THE drink of Summer 2018), it is a perfect pairing. Enjoy.

A Chef’s Life

A Chef’s Life
Today started on a horribly sad note when my wife told me about the passing of Anthony Bourdain just a few minutes after I opened my eyes. I met Anthony back in the 90’s when I was just getting my feet wet in the business. He was cooking at Les Halles where he was Sous Chef under the husband of a coworker. At this time the Food Network was in its infancy and the idea of a celebrity chef was more of a localized phenomena (Bobby Flay was still cooking at MESA Grill and Mario Batali was at his tiny restaurant Pō for example). Food writing was done by professional writers, none of which I remember meeting had ever spent time in a professional kitchen. There was no Yelp, no online reviews or even online reservations for that matter. You would read the NY Times to know what is going on in NYC and it was one person’s opinion, the almighty Food Critic. Now we live in a world where anyone and everyone not only can share their opinion they feel entitled to share it and somehow most see themselves as an expert. I was working for my dear friend Billy Gilroy at his restaurants MATCH, which at the time were two of the hippest places in town. I was in my early 20’s, single and no children, the restaurant was my life. Most days I would work open to close, which meant getting home after a couple after shift drinks meant maybe 4 hours of sleep at best. I met some of the most interesting people during those years, coworkers, customers, vendors and the list goes on. The fuse on the culinary world had been lit and things were changing. We would meet up with friends from other restaurants at certain dive bars or if money was good maybe go to Blue Ribbon for a late night meal. We would share stories of dinner service or which Chef’s we hated or loved to work with. I loved every minute of it and I do miss the chaos at times, just not enough to go back. Great Chefs are artists and “feeding people” is their way of expression. I love the term “feeding people”, I once worked with a really amazing Chef at a super high end place and he would always say “we have X more people to feed”. There was a double meaning to this for me, one was the basic part of that was what the job was, cooking food for people, the other was the way it made it sound like we were doing some humanitarian effort, however, $150 a head is for dinner is far from charity, still you were filling an essential need to food, just on an elevated level. My brother was with a big PR firm at the time and as the celebrity Chef business began to take off the PR business had to change as well. As the years went by it became cool to be a Chef and it seemed everyone wanted to be one or at least know and hang out with one. All of these young kids dropping +25k to go to culinary school with the belief that they would graduate and be the next Gordon Ramsey, but be able to skip the talent and hard work part. I remember when Kitchen Confidential came out and friends and family were shocked by the stories that Mr. Bourdain so eloquently had told. The stories to me were all too relative and I knew or had worked with a good number of the characters in the book. Food is life and it tells the story of the people, the land, the history of where it originates. I loved watching him travel the globe and experience the culture of his surroundings through food, and drink of course. I have been lucky enough to have a job that allows me to do the same, I just do not have the writing skills that Anthony was blessed with. Something to aspire to. You will be missed.