On the spot: Ed Layton, Island View Casino Resort
Despite the exit of Emeril’s Gulf Coast Fish House restaurant from its resort-casino at the end of May, the Island View Casino Resort in Gulfport, Miss., will continue to use substantial amounts of local seafood. The popular Emeril’s eatery will be replaced with the 9,000-square-foot Carter Green Steakhouse, an Island View-operated fine dining steak and seafood concept, in early July.
But that is not the only dining option enjoyed by locals and tourists at the resort-casino. The 560-room resort features an expansive daily buffet, a casual concept called C & G Grille and a coffee shop. On the Spot recently spoke with Island View’s VP of food and beverage and hotel operations, Ed Layton, about the restaurant changes and local seafood purchasing.
Blank: Why is Emeril’s restaurant leaving Island View, and explain the plan for the new steakhouse?
Layton: Chef Emeril Lagasse wanted to concentrate on his core business: his retail lines, including a new brand of steaks, and his television shows. We are sorry to see it go. Carter Green Steakhouse is a traditional-style steakhouse that we are going to supplement with oysters and a heavy emphasis on crab. We are looking to open around the 4th of July weekend.
Explain why buying local and regional seafood is so important to Island View.
We try not to use any of the imported items, especially since Hurricane Katrina, when it was important to create as many jobs as possible. We try to buy from about a 100-mile radius, from New Orleans to Jackson, Miss., to Alabama. We use local seafood as a marketing tool, such as photos of self-serve crab and the peel-and-eat shrimp in the buffet. We label our shrimp as wild-caught product of the United States.
What are your most popular local seafood items?
U.S. farm-raised catfish from the Mississippi Delta is probably our most popular item. We use it for all of our restaurants. We have a huge commitment to the local shrimp industry. We’ve had 16/20 shrimp on our buffet for lunch and dinner since we opened. We use about 10,000 pounds a week.
Which seafood purveyors do you purchase from?
We use shrimp processor Sea Pearl Seafood out of Bayou La Batre, Ala. It is a good shrimp house and it is all wild-caught, U.S. product. Most of our product comes from New Orleans. Also, Halperns Purveyors of Steak and Seafood out of Atlanta is bringing in our coldwater lobsters. When local fish is not as available, we bring in seafood from the East or West Coast such as tilefish and cod.
Which seafood items are you concerned about purchasing?
Opilio snow crabs look like they are going to be in very short supply this year, and the quality seems to be a little suspect. The Canadian crabs are the ones we use the most of, but we understand they may not be available by July. The restrictions on grouper and snapper really take you out of that market, but I understand that grouper is coming back.