Gulf seafood in demand at massive Mississippi resort
Every day, Kristian Wade, executive chef at the Beau Rivage Resort and Casino in Biloxi, Mississippi, is on the phone with trusted local seafood suppliers – in a much more technologically advanced way than in the past. The fishermen snap a photo of the large tuna they just caught, for example, and then the supplier texts the photo to Wade. He sends a quick note of approval (or disapproval) back, and the deal is done.
“Competition has bred traceability, so the smaller boats are having to do more work,” Wade said. “Suppliers are starting to tag fish with QR codes [to trace the fish back to the boat]. Eventually, our guests will have the QR codes too.”
And these types of local boat purchases by the resort – which procures a whopping USD 10 million (EUR 9 million) in seafood annually for the nearly 1,800-room hotel, casino buffet and several restaurants – are about to become more common.
While around 30 percent of Beau Rivage’s fresh seafood purchases are already from local fishermen and distributors in the Gulf of Mexico, Wade and his team are aiming to significantly ramp up their purchases from local suppliers, including small boats.
“We want to work with more local fisherman, not only for the quality and freshness that they provide us, but it also supports our fishing community which has been so vital to this area long before gaming was here,” Wade said.
To that end, the resort is transforming its Coast restaurant – currently a casual sports bar concept – to focus on Gulf seafood, with specials changing daily depending on the seafood that is in season.
”We are in the seafood capital of the world and we want Coast to reflect that,” Wade said.
Coast’s menu transformation will be the entry point that leads to more Gulf seafood purchases for the resort’s six restaurants. Beau Rivage already buys 125,000 pounds of wild Gulf shrimp annually, along with 75,000 pounds of oysters, 60,000 pounds of crawfish, 6,000 pounds of red snapper and 3,000 pounds of grouper annually.
Beau Rivage utilizes Biloxi seafood distributors Quality Seafood and Poultry as well as Desporte & Sons Seafood.
“They both provide up-to-date market trends as well as keep us informed of what is being caught through the seasons,” Wade said.
The transformed Coast menu, which will likely be unveiled in July 2016, will include a wide selection of local raw and stuffed oysters such as “The Mothershucker, which features house-made bacon, a white barbecue sauce and pickled onions. Other staples on the menu will be crawfish deviled eggs, featuring a crawfish filling and a candied bacon garnish, and fried oyster sliders topped with Crystal aioli, arugula and pickled red onions.
And, of course, the restaurant will feature several local fish dishes that will vary according to season.
Meanwhile, Beau Rivage is still in the market for large volumes of non-local seafood. It annually purchases 250,000 pounds of snow crab, for instance, for its seafood buffet.