Food

Q&A with Kristin Donovan from Hooked seafood store in Toronto

Photography by Jeff Coulson/TC Media Image by: Photography by Jeff Coulson/TC Media Author: Canadian Living

Food

Q&A with Kristin Donovan from Hooked seafood store in Toronto

Canadian Living: What prompted you to start your own fish store?  
Kristin Donovan: As a chef, I was finding it increasingly difficult to source fresh fish, caught responsibly, with full traceability. As a mom, I had pretty much stopped feeding our family fish for these same reasons. I just felt I couldn’t trust what was out there. My husband, Dan, and I had discussed launching our own business for years. We kept mulling over fish but knew so little of the ins and outs of freight, sourcing, distribution etc. that we were a little shy. When we finally decided that it was the right path for us, we knew we were going to operate differently. We created our own distribution model, based on direct relationships, support of small-scale fisheries and small boats employing responsible fishing practices. We decided to manage our own freight. We also decided to only hire chefs. We felt this was the only way to ensure complete traceability and control over our fish.

CL: What’s a typical seafood-based weeknight meal in your household?
KD: One of our favourite winter meals is pan-fried rainbow trout from Kolapore Springs near Collingwood or Lake Erie yellow perch, served with buttery mashed potatoes and shaved Brussels sprouts. Another is green curry with Pacific cod. Fish tacos are a weekly offering in our kitchen, too!

CL: Did you ever have any trouble getting your children to eat and enjoy fish?
KD: After years of no fish, our kids were suddenly inundated with it. They didn’t have much choice! The fish we bring in is so fresh that there is rarely much "fishy" smell or flavour to it. Our kids turned up their noses for the first week or two, but very quickly converted. They love pretty much everything we sell at the store, though are still not huge fans of oysters. We’ll get them there.

CL: What's one of your kids' favourite concoctions?
KD: Fish pan-fried in butter was an immediate hit. Perch and trout were an easy sell. The kids didn’t love salmon, so I would roast it at a high temperature (475°F/240°C) and baste it with maple syrup and season it with smoked salt. The key is to not overcook fish. Like a steak, it should be cooked from room temperature and seasoned well. A 1-inch (2.5 cm) thick fillet cooked at high heat should not take longer than 8 minutes to cook.

CL: Are there any kinds of oysters you're particularly partial to?
KD: We bring in oysters from PEI, New Brunswick, Nova Scotia and the West Coast. They are each different and wonderful.

CL: Is there any unusual ingredient you like to top freshly shucked oysters with?
KD: I love the hot sauce we make at our store, or a mixture of minced green apple and horseradish. 
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Q&A with Kristin Donovan from Hooked seafood store in Toronto

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