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9780767906913

New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook
New Legal Sea Foods Cookbook
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  • ISBN-13: 9780767906913
  • ISBN: 0767906918
  • Publisher: Broadway Books

AUTHOR

SUMMARY

The Legal Sea Foods Heritage Fish is my life. When I was growing up, everyone in our family worked at Legal Sea Foods. My parents, George and Harriet, ran the business. Harriet's mother, Anna, bussed tables. My grandfather Max was the cashier. My brother, Marc, and I helped out after school and on weekends. I swept the floor, stocked the fish cases, sold takeout, scaled and filleted fish, and spent endless hours peeling shrimp. I even met my wife, Lynne, when she was working at Legal Sea Foods, when I was cooking in the kitchen and she was a waitress. Although I knew every aspect of the business, I planned to work in broadcasting, not at Legal Sea Foods. However, when I graduated from college in 1974 with a broadcast journalism degree, my father asked if I'd be willing to manage our original location in Cambridge, Massachusetts, so he'd be free to open a second restaurant. I expected to do this for a year or two, and move on--but twenty-nine years later, I am still here. I found that no matter how much I tried to deny it, once the food business was in my blood, it became addictive. Very few businesses allow the opportunity to do as many different things as this one, whether it's developing new restaurants, working with people, problem solving, or marketing. Nothing is routine. Every day brings new challenges. I realized early on that there are no days off in the restaurant world. I logged eighteen-hour days, stretching from dawn, when I bought fish down at the pier, to almost midnight, when I locked up the business. Often I was the first person to arrive and the last person to leave. It was exhausting, hard work, but I can tell you there's no better way to learn the fish business than the way I was trained. Looking back, it's difficult to believe that our multimillion-dollar business started more than fifty years ago as one tiny fish market in a working-class neighborhood in Cambridge. My father, George Berkowitz, opened Legal Sea Foods in Inman Square, next door to my grandfather's meat and grocery store, which was called Legal Cash Market after the Legal trading stamps that he passed out with the groceries. (In those days, customers saved these stamps to redeem for products; now, stores offer double coupons and other promotions.) My grandfather, Harry, had a wonderful reputation for stocking only the highest-quality meat and produce. To point up his connection with the Legal Cash Market, my father named his new fish store Legal Sea Foods, and used the same exacting requirements for the selection and handling of fish that my grandfather had for meat. From the beginning, my father was willing to pay top price to garner the best fish. Very quickly, Legal gained a reputation as the place to go in Boston to find the finest selection and quality of fish. My father knew, and taught me, that there were no bargains in the fish business. Top-quality fish always commands top prices. And, if the suppliers know you're their prime customer, they save the "top of the catch" for you. (My motto might be a sign I've hung on my office wall that says, "If you refuse to accept anything but the very best, you will very often get it.") When my grandfather retired, my parents expanded Legal Sea Foods into the grocery store location, which had so much extra space that they decided to open a restaurant. Their first restaurant venture in Inman Square, Cambridge, was put together for $2,400--and that included buying Frialators, a broiler, and the long tables and benches where people sat and ate family style. I take pride in the handsome table settings Legal now features, but in the beginning we served our food on paper plates with plastic utensils. (There was no money for a dishwasher.) There were also no recipes. We served fish two ways--fried and broiled. In 1967, haddock, our customers' favorite selection, was about fifteen cents a pound wholesale, so we could keep the prices low.[read more]

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