We talk a lot as personal chefs about our mission to create healthy meals for families. Part of that mission also includes thinking about where our food comes from. Is it organic? Is it from local farms and ranches? Who made it? Now it’s not always feasible–for cost reasons or just geography–to buy organic, local, and sustainable–but it’s something to strive for. In San Diego, where we have year-round growing seasons and are right on the ocean, it’s become a big deal.

That includes seafood. One of the premier seafood wholesalers in San Diego is Catalina Offshore Products, founded and owned by Dave Rudie. They got their start decades ago selling sea urchin that Dave would dive for. The company has long since expanded and in the last several years, they’ve positioned themselves as a chef favorite and now a public favorite, thanks to the face of the company, Tommy Gomes.

Tommy Gomes

Tommy comes from a fishing family and is a wealth of knowledge about seafood–and, importantly today, sustainability. While the company doesn’t pretend to be entirely sustainable, they are working hard to do all the right things–and still be profitable. That extends to their recent agreement with non-profit advocacy group Seafood of the Future to label products in ways that help consumers make good choices based on local fisheries in healthy supply by building a network of restaurants, distributors, and producers also committed to fishery sustainability. Catalina Offshore Products uses their guidelines to inform customers of the status of various species they sell. It’s all about transparency.

That’s why you’ll still see white shrimp for sale from Baja (which we in San Diego consider local), Bluefin tuna, corvina, and Cabrilla grouper (not on the Seafood for the Future list) alongside approved species like black cod, yellowfin tuna, wild swordfish, and Chilean sea bass. You may still buy the grouper or shrimp, but, hopefully, you’ll think about that purchase, and perhaps also buy some black cod.

Seafood for the Future-Coho

Catalina Offshore Products is also interested in getting customers to go beyond just the filet and strive to eat the entire fish–from tail to mouth. To do that, they have weekly in-house cooking demos, primarily by Chef Christopher Logan of Creative Flavors Catering, but also by numerous other chefs who have befriended Tommy and Catalina Offshore Products–and often Tommy himself will wield a spatula over a skillet. Consequently, they have gotten people to fall in love with fish collars and cheeks. Chefs fall all over each other to get livers and eggs and other innards that they transform into exquisite dishes.

And, five years ago, Tommy and Catalina Offshore Products launched a regular Sunday evening event called Collaboration Kitchen in partnership with local produce warehouse Specialty Produce, both to demonstrate seafood cooking techniques and raise money for local organizations. Tickets to these events, which are $75, sell out in hours and draw San Diego’s best chefs to participate. The event now has a formal 501(c)3 nonprofit designation and board of directors and hands out a check for $3,000 on the spot to the recipient.

Tommy giving a check to representatives of Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center

Tommy giving a check to representatives of Olivewood Gardens & Learning Center

We thought you’d enjoy a recipe from one of these events. This was the 2014 season opener with Sam “the Cooking Guy” Zien, who has an Emmy Award-winning TV show, a radio show, blog, and several cookbooks.

Sam Zien

He’s a local food celebrity and charmed the crowd that night with dishes like Deviled Eggs and Shrimp Skewer, Curried Grouper, and Captn Crunch Seared Tuna.

Sam's dishes

Here’s one with a fish you may not have thought to cook with: shark:

Hoisin Shark Tacos
From Sam Zien

Makes 2 tacos

4 green onions, white & light green parts only, sliced lengthwise into thin shreds
1/4 cup jicama, sliced into thin shreds
3 tablespoons Hoisin sauce
1/2 tablespoons Asian chili paste
Peanut oil
1/4 pound shark fillet without the skin, cut into small pieces
2 corn tortillas

· Combine green onions and jicama into a “slaw” and set aside
· Mix hoisin and chili paste in a small bowl and set aside
· Preheat a skillet or wok well on fairly high heat – also preheat a nonstick skillet to heat the tortillas
· Add 2 teaspoons peanut oil to the wok, then the shark and cook quickly until still a bit moist inside, about 3 minutes
· At the same time, heat the tortillas in the nonstick skillet
· Spread some sauce on the each tortilla, top with shark and slaw
· Serve

shark taco

What are your favorite seafood dishes to serve clients? Are you buying local, sustainable seafood? If not, why?

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.


If you have an iPhone or iPad or some other breed of mobile phone or tablet that can download mobile applications you have the springboard for a robust portable reference library you can use on the fly. In the food category, the menu is extensive. Most celebrity chefs, from Alain Ducasse and Gordon Ramsey to Jamie Oliver and Catt Cora have their own apps. So do culinary schools like the CIAand Escoffier. And, if you have some bucks to spend you can even get the Modernist Cuisine at Home app for a robust $80.

But, if you’re just starting to build your app portfolio, we’ve got some terrific low-cost or free apps that are hugely useful—whether they’re geared toward recipes, shopping, or business/kitchen management. Some of you may have been introduced to these apps by Chef Carol Borchardt at her Personal Chef Summit in San Diego. She offered some ideas here, too.

Take a look and please leave your suggestions in the comments section so we can all fill up our devices with great resources! Note: The apps listed below are found on iTunes for iOS devices. Most, if not all, are also available for Android.

APP screen2

Find & Hire a Personal Chef:  Free. We’re starting with our own app first. The APPCA launched this app last year. We suggest you promote it within your own circles and make sure that you (members) are listed in the detail you want since this is geared toward promoting your services. The app is searchable based on geography and  includes videos that discuss who needs a personal chef, how to find and hire a personal chef, and features a day in the life of the Dinnermaker Personal Chef Service.

How to Cook Everything

How to Cook Everything: $9.99. From the bestselling cookbook by New York Times columnist Mark Bittman, it features 2,000 recipes and 400 how-to illustrations. There’s also a separate app from Bittman called How to Cook Everything Vegetarian.


Epicurious: Free. Thousands of recipes from Bon Appetit, Gourmet, and other sources, a recipe box, shopping list, voice commands—and newly updated for iOS 7.


Ratio: $4.99, From Michael Ruhlman’s best-selling cookbook Ratio: The Simple Codes Behind the Craft of Everyday Cooking. It’s less about the recipes than the building blocks of creating them. So you’ll get 33 key proportions for fundamental  recipes and the app does the calculating and converting for you.

Specialty Produce

Specialty Produce: Free or $1.99 for Specialty Produce Pro. The product of a San Diego produce warehouse, the app has developed into a terrific database of produce history, cultivation, seasonal availability, and recipes.

Kitchen Calculator Pro

Kitchen Calculator Pro: $3.99. Perfect for scaling recipes.  recipe conversions for temperature, weight, volume, distance. Standard cooking fractions. And you can create a database with your favorite ingredients.

Seafood Watch

Seafood Watch: Free. From the Monterey Bay Aquarium. Helps you choose sustainable seafood and sushi with rankings of Best Choice, Good Alternative, and Avoid. Includes new project, FishMap.

Hello Vino

Hello Vino – Wine Assistant: Free. All-in-one app providing recommendations for meals and specific food pairings, for various occasions, by type and variety, and your own taste preferences.


iAnnotatePDF: $9.95. This isn’t specific to food but Borchardt swears by it for her business. Use it to read, mark up and share PDF, DOC, PPT, and image files. “With the assistance of Dropbox (yet another one!), you are able to make physical changes to PDF documents. When I meet with clients, I take my iPad with me and pull up my menu and the clients can ‘check off’ the ones that appeal to them with their fingertip. I’ve also used it to upload my shopping list, too,” she explains.



GroceryiQ: Free. Build a grocery shopping list with specific brands manually or by scanning barcodes or doing a voice search. Create a favorites list segmented by stores.

Asian Market Shopper

 Asian Market Shopper: $3.99. Demystifies Asian ingredients, focusing on the 100 most commonly used staples, along with how-to videos and recipes.

Pat LaFrieda's Big App for Meat

The Meat App: $4.99. Another app recommended by Borchardt, this is a butcher’s-eye view of cuts of meat and how to cook them, with butchering tutorials.

Carbs Control

 CarbsControl: $2.99. If you have diabetic clients, you can use this app to search specific foods and find out the carb count to build a recipe.

 Is That Gluten Free?

Is That Gluten Free?: $7.99. A great resource if you have gluten-free clients. More than 29,000 products and 1,077 brands listed.



Fooducate: Free. Useful for chefs who need to track product nutrition for clients, it features a product/brand scanner and nutrition trips.

4-in-1 Kitchen Timer

4-in-1 Kitchen Timer: Free. A practical app to use when you need to time multiple dishes. Has four timers that you can identify by dish and even continues to count  when the app is closed.

What are your favorite, most useful apps? Please leave a comment and let us know.

Not an APPCA member? Now’s the perfect time to join! Go to personalchef.com to learn about all the benefits that come with membership.

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