Colorado entrepreneur creates iconic seafood dishes for tri-state operators

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YesYou wouldn’t think a company in Colorado knew much about fish, but this company located in the middle of the United States transports sea creatures from British Columbia and Nova Scotia and just about all over the world . fish swim in the ocean. And if it’s fresh and delicious fish you’re looking for, wherever you are, Honey Smoked Fish in Aurora is the place to go.

“You don’t need to be in a seaport anymore. It’s not like you catch the fish right out of the harbor,” said Kevin Mason of Honey Smoked Fish. “Everyone else goes to Seattle, Florida or Nova Scotia. Why go where everyone else goes?

Mason noted that fish has practically been a part of his life since day one. “I come from a family business of fresh fish. For 38 years we had a kosher fish market,” Mason explained. “And I’ve been deep-sea fishing since I was five years old!”

Kevin Mason of Honey Smoked Fish prepares fresh samples at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.
Kevin Mason of Honey Smoked Fish prepares fresh samples at the Summer Fancy Food Show in New York City.

When his father lost his lease, he opened a new location and asked his son to become a partner with him. The rest is history, according to Mason.

Mason loved working with his father, but he felt his procedures needed to be modernized. “It was the old style of shopping. People no longer go to a bakery, to a fruit and vegetable market, to a butcher, to a fish market. People want to go to a store, a store. People want the convenience of going shopping because they are more active in their work and social life,” he pointed out. “They don’t have time to go shopping for a whole day like they did in the 1930s.”

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He recognized that the world of fish smoking was new to him. “I’ve never worked in a smokehouse before. I just knew I had all the fish in the world to play with,” Mason said. “And I bought this little smoker, at a seafood show, and started playing with it for over five years. I spent probably 2,000 times trying to get this perfect recipe.

What Mason realized, however, at first was that his vision was more than just smoking salmon. “I’m making a ready-to-eat protein superfood that could be added to any dish. We are the protein of the future,” added Mason.

Seeing how Honey Baked Ham made its mark, Mason decided he wanted to make his own mark on what he called “superfood salmon”, so he named it Honey Smoked Salmon.

“There’s no honey on the fish, it’s in the smoke. We have a secret firing system. When the honey drips and hits the fire, it causes combustion, an explosion of the sugars in the honey. And that puts an explosion in the smoker and a seal on the salmon,” Mason explained. “When you cook the fish for another four or five hours more, all of those omega-3s are locked in. You’re also cooking all the water from the salmon, so now that’s twice the concentration of omega-3s found in grilled salmon. Chefs can get a special flavor out of it.

The difference between Honey Smoked Salmon and other types of salmon is that the company only uses one and a half pounds of actual core wood for every 100 pounds of fish.

“So there’s just a very small piece of wood in there. And that’s just for flavoring, a slight hint of smoke. It’s the same profile as bacon, which is the preferred food men in the United States,” Mason said.

Most cooks who cook or broil salmon allow all the natural juices to drain out. Mason noted, “I learned to seal the salmon so all those omega-3s were locked in. Omega-3s have many health benefits, such as heart protection, anti-inflammatory benefits, improve skin tone, improve brain function, and have been linked to potential cancer prevention.

What about the cost? “We are not only at the center of the plate, we are at every avenue. I have been selling to the food service division for over 15 years at Sysco Foods and US Foods. And because you only need one to three ounces for any dish because it’s highly concentrated, it’s low protein cost at less than a dollar an ounce.

“We produce real food for real sustainable energy,” concluded Mason. “It’s the protein of the future.”

Dino S. Williams