Ocean Tides – SoCal is Hot Pt 1

Chef – SoCal is Swimming in Fish!

Ah Southern California… Where the setting sun dips into the omnipotent Pacific. Warm sands and cool ocean breezes entreat the global traveler. Where nouveau cuisine comes to life while grasping tightly to the traditions of their history. Rich in Seafood, San Diego is a hub for great food and culinary talent. is over the moon to offer the Direct Distribution of some of the nation’s finest sea creatures while supporting some of the coolest fisheries of the Baja.

Hand Line Fishermen of the Baja have been an intergral part of From small fishing villages along the northern part of the Baja Peninsula, Day Boat Fishermen set out in small Wooden Pangas for a day of hand lining and scallop diving. The honor of tradition and familial unity are drivers in this amazing Day Boat program. Fishermen – The Quintero Family, Ortega Cruz, Elmar King, Paisa Ocegueda

San Diego’s ports harbor some of the Pacific’s most dedicated men and women of the sea. Longline Boats like F/V Kraken and F/V Anthony G offload each week with brilliant pelagic species found between the mainland and Hawaii. The brilliant winds of the Pacific often slipstream the catch into port as quickly as it is boated. Displaying the highest quality is what the San Diego fishery is highly renowned, and we have it for you the very next morning. Find the species that fits your need and it’s a call away.


California Halibut – “Right Eye”
(Paralichthys californicus)


California Halibut falls comfortably between Alaskan Halibut and Large Summer Flounders. That gives it a well recognized marketability to anyone across the country and beyond. The California Halibut have wide thick fillets that are perfect for high heat cooking methods. California Halibut stand alone in the Halibut realm as a light, delicate and clean flesh that works in a multitude of applications. A favorite in Ceviche, the California Halibut has the moisture content to stay creamy, but lower fat contents to keep the Ceviche clear and bright. It also has a great propensity for buttery sauces, vinaigrettes, gastrique, and broths. Give this incredible Halibut a place on the Feature Board and bring a great hand line caught species to your guests.


Pacific Red Snapper – “Huachinango”

(Lutjanus peru) 


The Red Snapper is member of the Lutjanidea or Snapper Family, which are known in English as snappers, and in Mexico as pargo and Huachinango. A highly-prized game fish, the Red Snapper is distinguished by an overall bright red or sometimes a dark pink color, predominant on the head, back, and all fins, which gradually turns into white with a silvery sheen on the lower part of the body. It has a relatively “smooth” and streamlined appearance, as compared to most other snappers, but there isn’t a comparison for the complex Pacific flavors of the Huachinango. The fierceness of the rolling ocean strengthen the Huachinango and firm the flesh with a toothsome appeal while maintaining brilliant flake and moisture. The name alone peaks the interests of diners, and its excellence seats it firmly in their menu memories to be requested again and again.


Cabrilla Grouper – “Various”  
(Mycteroperca rosacea


Cabrilla fillet have a paper white flesh that is textually firmer than Atlantic Black Grouper, but just as sweet and moist. The Cabrilla Grouper go through color changes during the year. Depending on the color of the fish at capture, the common name may change. Sardinera, Golden Grouper, Leopard Grouper, Spotted Grouper all associate with the species.The Spring typically shows a transition from Leopard to Golden. Ingredient names lend a poetic flare to any menu, and Cabrilla offers the poetry with a texture, taste, and presentation that matches the allure of its name.

Contact to Customize Your SoCal Features


Josh Adams : 704-769-2260
Josh Bogen: 704-769-2261
Mike Casagrande: 704-769-2263
Karen Harmon: 704-769-2262
Jon Flower – 704-769-2258
Ben Hollinger: 704-769-2320
Patrick Lowder: 704-769-2265
Chris Nelson: 704-769-2256

Chef Hugo Ortega

Chef Hugo OrtegaChef Hugo Ortega Dish

Executive Chef/Co-Owner, Hugo’s and Backstreet Cafe

HOUSTON . . . Hugo Ortega, executive chef/co-owner of Hugo’s and Backstreet Cafe and a three-time finalist for James Beard Foundation Awards (2012, 2013 & 2014), was born in Mexico City, the oldest of a family of eight children. At 15, he began working at one of several Procter & Gamble factories in Mexico to help support his family.  “In Mexico, we have a saying, ‘If you’re born poor, you’ll die poor,’” says the eldest Ortega. “I knew I wanted more from my life.”

In 1984, Ortega immigrated to Houston with a cousin and a friend. He had no contacts or job leads, but was determined to make a life for himself in America.  “My family has always had a strong work ethic,” he says. “And I strongly believe that if you work hard, people will respect you.”

Slowly, step-by-step, Ortega began to set down roots in the bustling oil capitol. He shared an apartment with several friends, and followed up on leads for jobs in nearby restaurants. He was happy to find his first job, as a dishwasher, at a popular bar and nightclub. While the pay was meager, Ortega grabbed at the opportunity to learn the fundamentals of the restaurant business and find contacts to help him improve his English.

Later, he moved on to a downtown Houston restaurant as busboy during the day and, at night, he cleaned the floors in office buildings to supplement his income. “I was fortunate to have two steady-paying jobs,” recalls Ortega. When his friends in Houston planned to move to California, he opted to stay in Houston. With an unexpected turn of bad luck, Ortega found himself without work.

“It was a very bad time for me,” Ortega remembers. “Most of my friends had moved away, I was out of work and afraid that I wouldn’t be able to pay my rent.” A friend took Hugo to Backstreet Cafe, where he found employment as a dishwasher/busboy.  It was at Backstreet Cafe tat, according to the chef, “the great opportunity of my life came.”

Tracy Vaught, owner of Backstreet Cafe and Prego, was impressed with Ortega’s positive attitude and willingness to learn.  She thought he showed a great deal of promise and offered him a position on the line in the kitchen.  He worked diligently, familiarizing himself with every aspect of the kitchen and was soon promoted to the kitchen at Prego, where he worked side-by-side with Executive Chef John Watt.  Impressed by his hard work and dedication, Vaught offered to enroll Ortega in the Culinary Arts program at Houston Community College.  He jumped in with both feet.

R+D: Baja Tasting Menu hosted a tasting dinner at Flatiron Kitchen in Davidson, NC that featured many different applications of products sourced fresh from our partners along the Baja Peninsula. Chef Anthony used a creative approach that remained true to the essence of the product and the outcome was an amazing 5 course dinner! Chefs, feel free to use these ideas to inspire your next dish!

Uni Egg Fume in Sculpin Consume

Uni Egg Fume in Sculpin Consume

Baja Stone Crab Salsa with Fried Zuchini and Remoulade

Baja Stone Crab Salsa with Fried Zuchini and Remoulade

Pargo Snapper and Sculpin Ceviche

Pargo Snapper and Sculpin Ceviche

Huachinango Snapper and Baja Sheepshead

Huachinango Snapper and Baja Sheepshead

Cabrilla Grouper Fillets

Cabrilla Grouper Fillets

Look At Those Teeth!!

Look At Those Teeth!!

Market Report: Baja Peninsula Summer Fishing

Artisanal Fishing On A 16ft Panga - Sea of Cortez

Artisanal Fishing On A 16ft Panga – Sea of Cortez

June and July have historically been some of the highest volumes and greatest diversity of fresh, day boat Baja fish species. This is due to warming ocean currents and the migratory patterns and spawning cycles around the Baja Peninsula and the Sea of Cortez.

We will likely see large volumes of Cortez Fluke and California Halibut starting in the second week of June, as that has been a historical trend. In addition, California White Seabass will also open more fishing areas locally on June 16th. The Baja production seems to have a spike every year at the exact same time, so often that there is a high production of day boat fish from the Sea of Cortez and Baja Peninsula by June 20th.  Sudden high inventories lead to price breaks which we anticipate this year again.

Cabrilla Grouper is also running now and we expect higher than normal volumes of Baja Black Seabass in June and July. A wide range of snappers such as Pargo and Huachinango (Red) are moderately running right now. We will also see a moderate but steady supply of exotic species such as Gold Spotted Sand Bass and Baja Sculpin (aka “Scorpionfish”) as well. Corvina season looks to be ending, however.

Yellowtail Jack (aka “Wild Hamachi”) is sporadic but volumes are high when we see fish. There may be zero fish for a few days, and then we will see several thousand pounds over the course of a few days. We are expecting high volumes later in June and into July. Current inventories remain constant.

At, we are committed to being your trusted advisor in the global marketplace, and we will keep you updated on these trends as they continue to develop.