Treasures of the Sea: Three local chefs pay homage to Lauri & Karen Maki of Hil-Mak Seafood. “The Ashtabula County fish monger and his lady”

Photography by Concept Pop

We have a very special business at the top of Bridge Street called Hil-Mak Seafood owned and operated by Karen and Lauri Maki. I’ve known these two for over half my life and they’ve been supplying us with fresh fish since 2005. Lauri has been a great mentor to me and when I decided to make a career change, he welcomed me in to his fish market every Tuesday to teach me how to cut fish. In my eyes, Lauri Maki is a legend and a huge asset for supplying us with the freshest fish possible.

Sometime in September I had a conversation with John Senger from Bascule Bridge Grille about doing more dinners together. Our first collaborative dinner was with Nate Rockwell on the future Pairings lot back in September of 2013. We had such a great time together we wanted to do more. Personally for me, working with Nate Rockwell and John is what being a chef is all about. Every day we can learn something new and push ourselves to go further. We had 4 scheduled dinners this past winter, the first at Crosswinds Grille, the second at Bascule Bridge Grille, the third at Briquettes Smokehouse and finishing up at Hil-Mak’s. John wanted to do a “Treasures of the Sea” 5 courses of nothing but beautiful seafood. On March 2nd, we took over Hil-Mak Seafood Restaurant, paid our homage to Karen and Lauri for all their hard work and presented this following dinner to 40 wonderful guests.

Photography by Concept Pop
Photography by Concept Pop

The three chefs started the nite out with a slightly chilled fresh calamari salad with blood orange segments, pickled lime , fennel and red onion. These fruits de mer were matched with an Ohio white, the 2013 GRV Harpersfield Gewurztraminer.  The roasted onion bisque followed topped with two grilled jumbo shrimp which warmed the belly for what was to come. Poaching Mahi-Mahi and pan roasting Sturgeon with Rainbow Farms whipped potatoes and carrot puree balanced nicely when matched up to the 2012 Markko Reserve Chardonnay coming from the vineyard of the notorious Northeast Ohio wine icon Arnie Esterer.

Finally, ending the evening in true fish market fashion with scallops for dessert. Each guest received a duo of beautifully seared scallops nestled on top a chocolate-maple applesauce. This dish was paired with The Lakehouse Inn’s own Acero, a maple wine that complimented the chocolate-maple applesauce in addition to the sweetness of the scallop and salt from the sea. The event was a huge successes and showcased not only the quality and freshness of the fish but the creative combination of three top local Ashtabula County chefs, Nate Fagnilli of The Crosswinds Grille at the Lakehouse Inn, John Senger of The Bascule Bridge Grille and Nate Rockwell from Briquiettes Somkehouse.  Add the pairings of some delicious local white wines from Northeast Ohio and you had the best food and wine experience happening in Ashtabula County. -Taylor

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