Keeping seafood fresh, preventing overfishing, and ensuring sustainability are the important topics seafood restaurants and providers keep in mind. Andrew Wilkinson from North Coast Seafoods and Maureen Woodman of Woodman’s of Essex discuss how seafood is fished and the delicious meals made from it. Listen or read more to find out about fresh and sustainable seafood.

John Maher: Hi, I’m John Maher. I’m here today with Andrew Wilkinson from North Coast Seafoods and Maureen Woodman from Woodman’s of Essex. Today we’re talking about fresh and sustainable seafood. Andrew, welcome.

Andrew Wilkinson: Thank you for having me.

John: And Maureen, welcome.

Maureen Woodman: Thanks, John. Thanks for having us.

John: Sure. So, Andrew, tell me a little bit about North Coast Seafoods, and the history of the company.

Andrew: Yeah, North Coast Seafoods’ headquarter is in Boston. We are a third-generation family business specializing in, obviously, fresh, frozen and all things seafood. Whether it’s global, local, we do it all. And we supply everyone from small mom-and-pop restaurants to large clubs, to retail from Maine to Florida through the Midwest, and we ship seafood across the country daily.

John: Okay, and mostly restaurants or what are the types of places that you’re sending seafood to?

Andrew: Restaurants are a major part of our business, but I think the retail part of our businesses is probably the main driver. And higher education has actually come on to the scene wanting high quality seafood these days.

John: Interesting.

Andrew: Young people, that college seems to drive a lot of where the trends especially in freshness, or sustainability, or using underutilized species and things like that. It’s really being driven by that age group these days.

John: Yeah, and that age group is really kind of demanding in terms of what they’re willing to eat, what they don’t want to eat, where their food came from, things like that.

Andrew: Very demanding, not always the most educated. A lot of knee jerk reaction when it comes to things, but a lot of what I do is try to educate. Go to the schools, and work with them, and educate them. And feed them at the same time, which is fun.

John: Yeah, Maureen.

The Popularity of Sustainability

Maureen: So, I’m just wondering, do you think that the Food Network has a lot to do with the younger generation really being interested in where the food is and how it came along? I was thinking back in the day, there was one food critic for the Boston Globe. And people used to read that article and they got so excited. And now you can’t help but go on every single channel on cable and find anything you’re looking for. Any kind of food, any ethnicity food, recipes, cooking, Facebook, blogging, do you think that has a lot to do with it? Why they’re so interested in it?

Andrew: The Food Network or television in general, over the last 20 years, it’s amazing what’s happened, but everything became about telling the story. Similar to the Woodman’s story, you have a huge story and you want to tell it because it’s a fantastic story. When it came to food, and the popularization of going out to eat, where’s my food coming from? Where’s my chef from? What’s the history of the restaurant? What’s new today? What have you done for me lately? Yeah, that food. Emeril Lagasse was famous for that, “bam”, and sort of changed the whole world from that.

Maureen: I think to that. Another thing that’s interesting is we would go to small market type style places to get particular food. And now all these fancy supermarkets like a Wegmans or a Whole Foods, are bringing things to everybody. Even Trader Joe’s has some really different food.

Andrew: Everything is available to everyone these days. And of course, I’m not telling you anything you don’t know, Amazon has changed everything in the world. So, if you want something, it’s available to you out there. If you’ve read about it, you can get it.

History of the Relationship Between Woodman’s and North Coast Seafoods

John: Maureen, do you know how long it is that Woodman’s has been using North Coast Seafoods as a supplier?

Maureen: Well, I know that we brought on John and Pat in, I would guess it was probably close to 20 years ago, if I had to guess. We really only used the Ipswich Shellfish Company that was local to us, as well as our own diggers, and our own lobster men. And then we kind of branched out, and we got more specialty food, specialty like scallops, might have came from maritime. We use different vendors. And then when John and Pat came around to us, I think they had more to offer, they were servicing much bigger restaurants, like Legal Sea Food, for example, and a whole bunch of other places. And their prices were really good. And they were willing to give us that mom-and-pop feel, as Andrew said.

They were also a family business. So, I think that was a natural gravity towards us. We had a tendency to only do family business, because we felt more trusted, or we could pick the phone up and get the owner. Because our food is so important to really all of our income. It’s really the highest thing we sell is the food. So, we were always worried about quality. And I think down in the Seaport area, there were a lot of fish markets down there. That’s where all the Boston fish markets were years ago before Seaport got developed. And I think you felt safe going there.

North Coast Seafoods Focus

John: Right, right. So, Andrew, what are some of the most important aspects of seafood that North Coast is particularly focused on?

Andrew: Number one is having the most exceptional quality. We try to say ‘boat to plate’ in 36 hours or 48 hours. That’s sort of our guideline, being a larger seafood company. It was great being a very small seafood company years ago. But through consolidation, and trying to eliminate the middleman, it’s a little bit easier to be a larger seafood company now, to have those sources.

I was trying to explain, a lot of our business is like this massive train of seafood that has just come out of the ocean, and is going to all parts across the country. And Woodman’s benefits greatly like our other restaurant customers whereas that train is going through, and the chef picks up the phone and says, “Can you send me this cod? Can you send me the salmon? I need X amount of scallops.” We just pick off of that fast-moving train, and they get it the next morning. And it’s been out of the water for a very short period of time.

So, it’s a very high quality. And restaurants are looking for a couple of things. High quality that’s going to taste extremely fresh, that’s unadulterated. And, also two, they want to be able to have shelf life. Shelf life is important. Who knows if it’s going to snow, if it’s going to rain, if something’s not happening, they want to make sure that that seafood is going to be able to make it a couple of days.

Keeping Seafood Fresh

John: Right. And so, by you getting it to the restaurant as soon as possible, like you said in 36 hours or less ideally, then if the restaurant did have to hang on to it for a couple of days before they’re able to serve it for whatever reason, they can do that without sacrificing the quality.

Andrew: No problem. No problem. They say seafood is a lot like company. After three days, it starts to stink. Not so much true if the seafood is really held very well. And we have certain tricks in house that we’ve . . . commitments that we’ve made to extend shelf life. For instance, when the fish come in, in a whole state . . . North Coast, Norman, and Jim Stavis have invested in what’s called a slurry system. So, fish used to come in these big vats and they’d be piled on top of each other. And you can imagine what happens to the ones on the bottom. They’re going to get, you know, bruised up, and they’ll become soft.

Now all the fish that comes in goes into the vat, and it’s in this ice water, salted slurry water. So, the fish are almost in suspension. So, they’re not being pounded on or being bruised at all. And also, that salt slurry water can get down to around 28 degrees without freezing. So, everything to us is core temperature. So, if you can bring that core temperature down to 28 degrees without freezing, you have an unbelievable product. And what makes fish go bad is bacteria. Why does fish smell? You’re smelling bacteria that’s growing. If you’re at 28 degrees, bacteria doesn’t have a chance to grow. So that way, it’s a win-win.

John: Interesting. So, you’re keeping it below freezing to make sure that the bacteria doesn’t grow. And yet making sure that the fish itself doesn’t freeze because you don’t want that either.

Andrew: Yeah. Everything to the shape of the ice that we pack it in. It has to be . . . it’s not a cube. It’s sort of a sheet of ice. So, it’s packed on top of each other. So, there’s no warmer air or ambient air that can get into it.

John: Interesting.

Andrew: Yeah, it’s a science. It’s science.

John: Yeah, kind of distributes the weight across all of the fish that are stacked on top of each other as well. Yeah. Maureen, do you think that what North Coast Seafoods is doing translates to the customers, and what they’re looking for in terms of the freshness of the seafood?

Maureen: Well, first I want to ask a question. So, back in the day, when chemicals were put on fish, like I think it was iodine for shrimp or stuff like that. Is that why chemicals were put on fish was to give them a quick freeze to prevent the bacteria? Or why were chemicals used in fish versus now they’re not used in fish because you can keep that temperature correct. Is that how that works?

Andrew: Let me answer you. Seafood industry is very unique. It’s the only . . . we basically run in a completely unregulated industry. We don’t have USDA prime stamp on a piece of fish like you would get on a piece of beef or the chicken or pork. Everything to us is . . . so, it’s unregulated. The government has no regulation on how fresh or a type of grade. For instance, can you tell me what sushi quality is? There’s no definition for sushi quality. Obviously, you say, “oh, because you can eat it raw.” Sure, well, you can eat anything raw if you want or somebody can say that.

So, there’s no terminology of USDA Prime, USDA Choice, USDA Standard. So, fish that come into us, we need to know how dead is dead. Because all the fish that comes to us is dead. No animal, a cow or pork or chicken ever arrives to the slaughterhouse dead. They all arrive live. So, that’s the difference, and that’s why the government doesn’t track, can’t regulate seafood, because the question is how dead is dead?

To go back to your comment about chemicals, because we’re unregulated there’s no regulation, the chemicals that you add to seafood as well. When chemicals were used the most common one was called sodium tripolyphosphate. Sodium tripolyphosphate, you buy fish by the pound, and you pay a certain price per pound. One thing that’s generally free out there is water. And so, water is pretty inexpensive in the seafood industry. What does sodium tripolyphosphate do? If you add that to your seafood, it makes it, your protein makes your fish fillet absorb water. So, you’re adding weight to the fish. You’re adding, and that’s where a lot of the chemicals have been misused over the years, and has given the seafood industry sort of a bad name.

Maureen: So, going forward, do you think you’re going to see federal regulations in the fish area?

Andrew: No. [crosstalk].

Maureen: If you had to predict it.

Andrew: No, I don’t think so.

Maureen: Interesting.

Andrew: Except for the counting of the fish and the sustainability of the fish in the environmental. Making sure that we’re not overfishing or out fishing something. But the chemicals what’s happened . . . let me go back to a statement I said a little while ago, those college students, those 18- to 25-year-olds who are extremely interested in where their fish is coming from. They’re also very interested in what’s going into their fish. Clean fish is extremely important, which is why the commitment Woodman’s makes with North Coast Seafoods is that we have a commitment to this program, which we actually call Naked Seafood, where there is no chemical going into the product.

Maureen: That’s great.

Andrew: Yeah.

Woodman’s Customers Can Depend on Fresh Seafood

John: And again, Maureen to go back to my previous question. How important is that to your customers do you think? That this idea of Naked Seafood that there’s no chemicals, and that the food is fresh? And it’s boat-to-table in 36 hours or less? Is that important to your customers?

Maureen: Well, I think so. I think if you go back like Andrew said, Woodman’s has a great story. We’re 105 years old this year. And the story was Chubby literally was ‘shore-to-door’. He was a fisherman. He was a clam digger. He was a lobster man. Back then when we started in the . . . I’d probably figure in the early 1920s. Remember the story of Woodman’s 1914, the invention of the fried clam was 1916. Once we really started getting going, we didn’t really start doing clambake catering until 1922. And we really only had a handful of products. We didn’t have 20 choices. We probably had clams, fish, and lobster. And those things were used in everything. They were used in clam fritters, they were used in clam chowder, they were used in fried clams.

I think he never had any chemicals. He never had . . . well, he probably didn’t even have ice back then. They had blocks of ice. They didn’t have any refrigeration. So, when you talk about that core temperature, I find that interesting because we have all the pictures of the ice would come in the blocks. Probably, they stacked it with the ice just like you’re talking. I can visually see that. Probably the fish on the bottom was getting pounded, and bruised. Maybe they used that for fish chowder, because it wasn’t really the good fish, I bet.

So, I’m thinking to myself, it’s not new to us that we would have clean food because that’s how we started. And I think along the way, we probably went with society and the way things were going. Like I know when you talk about the phosphate we used to laugh because the shrimp would literally glow in the dark in the freezer, and anybody that’s in the business will talk about those crazy fish. I think that was in the 90s if I remember correctly. You could see the fish, and they almost would take on like a glow green.

Andrew: A hue, yeah.

Maureen: Like a day stick. And I can remember, we threw them all away when they first came in. We didn’t know what they were. I think they were from Taiwan, if I remember correctly, where they came from. And I can remember being with my husband and his brother, and we’re like, “Oh my god, we got to get rid of this shrimp.”

John: Right. What did we buy?

Maureen: And I would imagine that was that chemical that Andrew just talked about.

Andrew: That’s absolutely right.

Maureen: So, there’s some things, and you know, shrimp always come frozen. Normally in our business if you go food shopping, you always see the shrimp in the frozen food aisle. Now you’ll see when you go to the supermarket in the fish counter, it’ll say previously frozen shrimp. Very unusual to get fresh shrimp, which we do sometimes here at Woodman’s. And when we have them, it’s a big deal. We’ll have the fresh native. So, I think yes, our customers have always, will always expect clean food.

Andrew: On top of that, very interesting. So, Maureen says they’re on 105 years this year. There’s a reason why you get to 105 years. I’ve been in the restaurant business my whole life, and is a very difficult business. It’s grinding. And the only reason you make it to 105 years is because you have a commitment to quality, a commitment to your customer, making them feel comfortable. A commitment to your employees, just to make your employees sustainable.

So, North Coast isn’t really the story here. We’re trying to deliver a peak piece of seafood to Woodman’s. Then what they do with it, their commitment to how they handle it and do it is a testament, and the customer will say, “I don’t know what it is. But when I’m there, I always get a great piece of fish. I get a great clam. I get a great opened oyster.”

John: It’s consistent.

Andrew: They don’t know why. But for my money, that’s where I’m going.

Perils of Overfishing and Benefits of Sustainability

John: Right. Interesting. You mentioned a little while ago of overfishing, and I wanted to talk a little bit about sustainable seafood and why that’s important. So, can you address that a little bit, Andrew?

Andrew: Sure. The “S” word. Sustainability is a huge word out there these days. And it’s used in a lot of different contexts. When it comes to seafood, obviously, the word sustainability a lot of people just assume that it’s counting fish, leaving more fish in the ocean than you’re taking out, all of a sudden you have a sustainable species. We look at it a little bit different as we are a global company and we deal with local seafood, we deal with global seafood. And the local seafood market, local seafood seems to be a very big buzzword. Just because it’s local doesn’t mean that it’s sustainable. [crosstalk]. I’m always asking younger people what’s more important to you, local or sustainable? And a lot of times they’ll come out, and they’ll say, “Local, of course.” Well, not really.

Sustainability is probably the key to our business and key to longevity, obviously to our business. We want to maintain that we have enough seafood in the ocean. But we’re also talking about sustainability when it comes to sustaining the local seafood economies where seafood is local. Whether it’s Norway, Iceland, Gloucester, Essex, Chatham, the Gulf of Mexico, Alaska, everywhere seafood is a part of life is to make that economy stay sustainable, and keep it healthy.

John: Because if you don’t have the fishermen, then you’re not going to get the local seafood. That’s the fact of it. So that whole industry, from the fishermen, right to the restaurants all has to be sustainable in that way.

Andrew: Sustaining not just the local economy, but sustaining your employment force. And then of course, making sure that there is proper management of the species through, there are three different levels to maintain that. For wild fish in the world it’s called MSC or Marine Stewardship Council. These are the people who oversee that the species of cod, haddock, swordfish, tuna are being regulated where we’re not overfishing it to the point of destruction. And then for the local fish in the Gulf of Maine, is the Gulf of Maine Research Institute out of Portland, Maine, a fantastic organization. These are the people who determine responsibly harvest seafood that is in good standing numbers wise in the Gulf of Maine.

For instance, we handle the codfish. There is no more cod on Cape Cod, or this little cod on Cape Cod now. We mismanaged it over the years. We thought it would never go away, but it did go away. So basically, the quota is almost nil. And nobody wants to be responsible for killing the last buffalo. And nobody wants to be responsible for taking the last cod out of the Gulf of Maine. So, we sort of give codfish a break. So, where’s most of our cod coming from? Sustainable sources coming from Iceland, who has done an incredible job at managing their codfish, and Alaska. So, two fantastic supply chains for great codfish. But hopefully someday maybe that Gulf of Maine codfish will come back.

John: And you said, these days coming from Iceland, coming from Alaska, that’s not what we would call local.

Andrew: No.

John: But it is from a sustainable fishery, area, and that’s equally or maybe even more important.

Andrew: Yeah, absolutely. We grew up you know, cod, haddock, cod, haddock, cod, haddock in New England. And it’s too bad that the codfish was mismanaged. But we still love our local whitefish, cod and haddock. So, the rest of the world whether it’s Norway, Iceland, Alaska, they’re taking good care of their fish, so [crosstalk].

John: And you’re still able to get it to the table in –

Andrew: 36.

John: . . . 36 hours even from Iceland.

Andrew: Yeah.

John: Yeah, amazing. Maureen, any thoughts on that?

Fish Served at Woodman’s

Maureen: For years we had . . . I was just thinking between the cod, the haddock, and the filet of sole. It was really funny. We did sole for years. Maybe like 30 years we sold sole here. And I can remember, sole is very thin. It is a very thin piece of fish. So, at Woodman’s, you would have a fish plate, a fish sandwich or a combination plate. And even no matter how delicate they were, the fryers, the sole would always break. And when we would get special, like for the family we would get haddock. And the haddock was always more . . . held better with the fry, thicker.

It wasn’t really that it was so much thicker, but it was stronger. It was a stronger fish so it held the meal better, and it stayed in. It looked better, but I think people that came to Woodman’s for all those years, they liked the sole. They didn’t care that the sole broke. I think that told them that it was a flakier, thinner fish. It’s not a fishy fish, the sole. Not that haddock is a fishy fish, but it can be fishier than the sole. And I think the average person doesn’t really know the difference between cod, haddock, and sole, but if you’re in the business you do.

We really teetered with this for a long time and now we’re all haddock. So, it’s really funny that the change, and just hearing like Cape Cod, the codfish, and what went on there. It’s kind of like the clamming industry up here. It runs in cycles and you don’t want to be the last one having the last piece of cod. So, I don’t know. I think that all that stuff is good, and I wondered to myself, which one is better now? The sole or the haddock?

Andrew: Well, the good news is the haddock species is having a great comeback in the Gulf of Maine. Why it’s happening? I can’t really tell you. I’m not a scientist, but we’re hearing great things about the comeback of haddock. What’s the difference? Sole has that crazy delicate flavor like you were just talking about. Some people don’t want to taste fish when they’re eating fish. They just know they’re eating more healthy, and it’s good for them. And so, sole has that very neutral delicate flavor. Haddock has a little bit more bite to it. Will taste a little bit more briny from the sea, definitely.

Maureen: What do you like better?

Andrew: Haddock.

Maureen: Haddock?

Andrew: Yeah.

Maureen: Yeah. I don’t know. I like baked stuffed haddock. I like my haddock that way. Maybe I always felt like with the sole you wanted two pieces because it was so thin. Like you ate more that it for some . . . I know that sounds crazy. But there was never enough on the combo plate. Where the haddock is definitely substantial.

Popular Seafood in New England

John: So, speaking of different types of fish and things like that, Andrew, what are some of the different types of seafood that North Coast Seafoods buys and sells? And how do you again, ensure that with all of those different types of seafood that your restaurants and retail places that you’re selling to are getting the highest quality across the board?

Andrew: The different types of species are kind of interesting. Again, we are a global supply chain. So, we are taking fish from all over. But when you think of New England, Woodman’s is a good example. There’s so many different things that you can get, but those top six or seven type of fish are the ones that really people gravitate to. So, definitely a specialty in cod and haddock, swordfish, tuna. Right now is an unbelievable season for the Canadian day boat halibut season. Probably it’s basically just a huge sole. It’s a flat fish, but very meaty when it comes to one of the best fish out there in the world. This Canadian day boat fishery that’s happening is just unbelievable, fantastic.

Salmon is a big part of our business. It’s the most popular seafood in the country. We deal with right now the wild Alaskan season is open right now, sockeye, and the king salmon, you’ll start to see coming out. And then of course, salmon has become major with the aquaculture because there used to be salmon in the Gulf of Maine, but it’s all now basically being formed right now. And just like any agriculture farm, there are good farms and there are not so good farms.

So, it’s important for you to understand where your salmon is coming from. Salmon was farmed. Salmon is very different what it is today, what it was 20 years ago. Aquaculture got a bad name, but right now it’s fantastic with something called the best aquaculture practices. These are the people who rate salmon farms or aquaculture farms around the world. And it just so happens that Woodman’s buys the absolute top-rated salmon in the world, and that just says something about their commitment to the quality that they’re getting. The same that they get is the first four-star highest rated salmon in the world coming out of Northern harvest sea farms.

Popular Shellfish at Woodman’s

John: Amazing. And then talk about shellfish a little bit. We have clams and things like that.

Andrew: Shellfish is a fantastic item that a lot of people don’t understand. It’s so good for the environment. These are filter feeders that live in the ocean, and they clean up our waterways. So, oysters and clams, their job is to basically just filter water all day. It’s amazing, an oyster or clam can filter something like six to eight gallons of water. That’s how they get all their nutrients and grow. We do something a little bit different at North Coast Seafoods, we actually have a purification system in our building.

So, you have raw oysters on the menu that you’re shucking. There is a peace of mind that Woodman’s operators and the chefs get when they get oysters from North Coast Seafoods because they are completely naturally pure. We put them in this purified water to live for two or three days before they get shipped. So, any bacteria that could possibly be in that oyster or clam has been purged out completely, so you can have this peace of mind that you’re getting a pure oyster that you’re not going to be sick from.

John: And that’s something that you guys do that’s unique –

Andrew: It’s above and beyond.

John: . . . that most places are not doing.

Andrew: Above and beyond.

John: Yeah, yeah.

Maureen: Do you feel, Andrew, that oysters in the last seven years have had a resurgence for customers? Do you think you’re selling more or less than you did seven years ago?

Andrew: They’ve gone through the roof. It’s similar to like California wines. People have become interested in the terroir of the wine, and where it’s coming from. Now, they want to know all the merroir, or the sea level of where the oysters are coming from. Are they deep water? Are they in a title flat? Where are they coming from? Different kinds of copper minerals or is it brinier than this? Do I like a milky or one? Very interesting. So, it’s become this sort of gourmet type thing.

Woodman’s Raw Bar

Maureen: For us, before we started today, we were just talking about the Raw Bar. We opened the Raw Bar at Woodman’s in 1982, 37 years ago, believe it or not. Before that we really did not have shrimp cocktail, or little necks or oysters on the menu. We added the porch upstairs to the restaurant, really for additional seating. And throughout the years, back then whatever the math is, we were 75, 80 years old, the restaurant. And people always asked us why we didn’t have a Raw Bar. It was really interesting. And so, we didn’t really know what to do or how to do it. We all learned how to open oysters and clams pretty quickly. We obviously knew how to make shrimp cocktail, that was easy. We had the best cocktail sauce in the world, because we made it ourselves.

Andrew: There you go.

Maureen: And so, we went at this and I can remember, again, I’m talking over 35 years ago, I could tell by the way the oyster opened, what kind of quality it was. We would call it a chippy oyster, a popping oyster, there’s two different knives we would use. Some people would go at it, stabbing it. Some people go out flipping it. And it’s really interesting to me. And I felt like maybe the 80s and the 90s, the oysters just kind of got a bad rep. Like in the 90s people thought they were going to get sick. They thought they were going to get hepatitis, or they were going to get some disease from them.

And then all of a sudden, I would say probably seven to 10 years ago, this thing happened where not only did you want to have the oyster, you wanted to know what beach they were from. What state they were from. What bed on the beach they were from. They actually didn’t necessarily like a small oyster, they liked a plump oyster. I would call some of the ones that came locally back then I used to call them sticky oysters, when you open them there wasn’t a lot of water in them. And they would stick and they looked like kind of skinny looking.

And then you knew when you got a nice oyster, it actually hugged the shell, as opposed to being in the well of it. And I remember that as I was seeing what was happening to the food, the customers were also telling me what they saw, and what oysters they liked, and where they liked them from. I find that really funny that oysters have had a cycle of coming and going and really interesting because they haven’t really changed.

Andrew: You’re absolutely right. 20 years ago, the only oyster that you would know about was out of the Bluepoint oyster, and that was it.

Maureen: That was it.

Andrew: Now you have 30 different types that you can choose from, and it’s become food, is that entertainment, which is telling the whole story. And there is a story of where your oysters are coming from, where your clams are coming from.

John: It’s like people being into wine, and knowing exactly what vineyard their wine came from, and the different types of wine. I think part of it is the internet too, is just that with the internet people can do tons of research. And people love to research things and to learn about things. And that’s all part of that just education, and they love to be able to go into a restaurant and say, “Hey, I know these 20 different kinds of oysters, and I want to know, which ones I’m getting on my plate, and I have a preference between one or the other.”

Maureen: Yeah, I remember –

John: It’s fun. It makes it entertaining, like you said.

Maureen: I remember going to Legal Sea Food, probably the one in Cambridge, right there. And I remember it was like one of the first times that I saw that they were all there, and you could pick three of this one, two of that one, where you could get your dozen oysters. It could be six different oysters. I thought that was fascinating. But people would just go in there for oysters, nothing else.

Andrew: And how cool is it? A lot of people don’t even understand sometimes what they’re eating. But how cool is it that Maureen’s going to shuck an oyster for you. It’s alive, and all of a sudden, you just consumed it. It’s fantastic. I mean, how fresh. It’s like almost getting hit by a wave body surfing. It’s just ocean, pure, pure ocean in your mouth. It is a beautiful thing.

Maureen: And you really, when you’re in the business, it’s really funny. If you don’t see that person snap their oyster in front of you. You won’t eat it.

Andrew: I don’t want it. People ask me all the time, have I opened them?

Maureen: It’s true, isn’t it?

Andrew: It is.

John: Funny.

Maureen: Until you know how to open them, once you know how to open them it’s really funny. You’re like, when did you open that?

Classic, Fresh, Sustainable Seafood at Woodman’s

John: Andrew, you want to wrap this up for us. Any kind of final thoughts on fresh, sustainable seafood and the importance that that has in our restaurant industry, that Woodman’s of Essex is in?

Andrew: Well, I mean, Woodman’s is classic. It’s tradition, it’s timeless, which is fantastic. One of the things I love about the seafood business is that it’s growing even more with younger people, and that eating seafood is becoming much more of a healthier trend. And they’re finding out that it tastes good as well. It’s brain food. It’s a wonderful thing. You can see it in the numbers when the beef and pork and chicken numbers are heading down, and seafood is heading up. So, that’s really a wonderful thing.

Maureen: Thank God. We better not change our brand. [crosstalk]. We finally figured it out.

Andrew: And clean food, nothing like clean food, and seafood done . . . there was a very famous chef years ago, his name was Escoffier. He was a French chef and he gets a lot of credit for inventing cuisine as it is. But he had the most important thing to say, and I say it all the time when I’m talking to younger chefs or even our customers. He said “above all, keep it simple.” You have something that you do great, keep it simple. Let the product shine through. And that’s what Woodman’s does, and that’s what hopefully North Coast can provide too.

John: All right. That’s really great. Maureen Woodman, thanks again for speaking with me today.

Maureen: Thanks, John. Thanks, Andrew for coming down here. This was a learning experience –

Andrew: My pleasure.

Maureen: It was really fun.

John: Yeah, and Andrew Wilkinson from North Coast Seafoods, thanks again.

Andrew: Thank you John.

John: And for more information about Woodman’s restaurant, visit the Woodman’s website at or call 978-768-6057.

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