We just can’t help it. Like a proud parents watching their child graduate at the top of their class from a very prestigious doctor-astronaut-engineer school with a triple major and a minor in linguistics, we just can’t help but want to shout from the mountain tops about our Fresh Flight Fish. “Fish?” you ask. “Paul, I see fish at the grocery store all the time! What makes your Fresh Flight Fish so special?” Excellent question young grasshopper! That’s why I’ve enlisted the expert help of our Oshkosh store’s meat and seafood department manager, Kevin Baneck, to help you understand what so is darn great about fresh fish and why we’re so excited about it. Paul: Let’s start with the basics – what is Fresh Flight Fish? Kevin: Fresh Flight Fish is fish that is ordered direct from the supplier on the fishing docks. Paul: So how is that different from other fresh fish you may see at the grocery store? Kevin: I’m glad you asked! Most fresh fish is purchased by your local grocery store through a wholesaler, who purchases through various fisheries. The extra time the fish spends with this middle man between when the fish is caught and when you see it at the store can actually lower the quality and raise the cost. The middle man needs his cut! Paul: So when you say “Shore to Store,” you really mean it? Kevin: Absolutely! When we take the middle man out of the equation and order directly from the docks we get a lower price and days added to the freshness of the fish. We can then pass along that savings to our guests, so it’s a win-win situation. Paul: You mentioned that we buy directly from the fisherman – how do you get the fish from point A to point B without the middle man? And who are these fishermen? Kevin: We buy our Fresh Flight Fish from three suppliers: Favco from Anchorage Alaska, Nor Easter from Boston and Garden Aisle Seafood from Hawaii. Thanks to these special relationships alongside our relationship with FedEx, we can get the fish from the source to our stores in as little as 36 hours. Paul: So in this fast-paced world of Store to Store in 36 hours – how can we know whether or not the fish we bring in is of good quality? Kevin: We only purchase our Fresh Flight Fish through these three suppliers because they care as much as we do. Our team of experts at Festival Foods and the teams of experts we buy from have very strict procedures from clean well-kept fishing boats, to lab testing, and the all-important temperature checks every step of the way. All of the boring nitty-gritty stuff aside, I think the biggest quality factor is love. We buy from people who love what they do and are passionate about seafood, passionate about their product. Likewise we love what we do, and that love shows in the quality seafood we sell through our Fresh Flight Fish program. Paul: I hear sometimes fresh fish is frozen quickly after it is caught to extend the shelf life. Is our Fresh Flight Fish ever frozen along the way? Kevin: No. Our Fresh Flight Fish has never been frozen. This is important because keeping it fresh maintains flavor, color and integrity of the fresh seafood. Paul: So what kind of fish can your guest’s expect to see from this program? Kevin: We have a list of several unique seafood options that our fisherman partners are able to catch for us. Availability is based off of the fishing seasons and what they catch. Certain fish migrate and are only able to be caught during certain times of the year, others are more abundant. Sometimes we get “bonus” fish depending on what they catch! We also try and keep sustainability in mind when ordering. Paul: What’s the most popular Fresh Flight Fish? Kevin: That depends on what is in season. The most requested is the famous Alaskan Copper River Salmon, which has a short season. Otherwise I would have to say Atlantic cod from Boston would be the most popular. Paul: Interesting! While shopping at Festival, I noticed that sometimes you keep whole fish in the seafood display case. What’s the story on these fish? Can I buy them or are they just for show? Kevin: Yes, you can buy them! Putting whole fish in the seafood case is a great way to help people get to know the source of the fish and get them interested in whole fish. They offer good value and great flavor! Many people only know fish by the name and it’s fun to show our guests (and associates) what their favorite seafood actually looks like whole. Most of the fish we display is out for two days, after that we fillet them in store and put them on sale. Paul: How cool! So now I’m interested – is there a way I can keep up to date with what’s fresh flight today? Kevin: There are several different ways! We have a mobile text club which is set up for those passionate about fresh fish. Members can receive exclusive coupons with special savings and updates about popular fresh fish. You’ll get a text when the Copper River Salmon is available at your local Festival Foods, for example. You also can call or visit our store and ask one of our seafood service counter experts about today’s catch! Paul: This has been such an educational chat Kevin, thank you so much! I have one more question for you, what’s your favorite Fresh Flight Fish, and how do you cook it? Kevin: I like most seafood. My favorite would have to be the Copper River Salmon cooked on the grill. I like to use a quality olive oil, a little salt and pepper with a squeeze of lemon. Five minute of direct eat on the flesh side then skin side for another five minutes. With some fresh veggies and a glass of wine, it can’t be beat. There you have it! What’s that? You want more? Check out the Fresh Flight Fish page on our website here. You’ll find great information including videos where you see the whole journey and get to know the sources of our famous Fresh Flight Fish.
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