Paddlefish chef Steven Richard makes a mean lobster roll, but secretly loves Coney dogs

As a Massachusetts native, some of Steven Richard's earliest memories are of driving around with his grandfather sampling lobster rolls all over New England. No surprise that a career in the pharmaceutical industry eventually led to a career in culinary with stints at Wolfgang Puck Grand Café, Portobello Country Italian Trattoria and, now, as executive chef of Paddlefish.

How are you reducing food waste? The most impactful thing restaurants can do to reduce waste is to engineer menu items with a keen eye on portioning. Managing how things are executed on a daily basis is also a big part of this. A big part of our culture at Paddlefish is frugality and respect for the products that we use and the people who produce them. We feed our team every day, producing as many as 100 meals for our "internal guests." Our kitchen team is very careful and diligent to save and use all kinds of food products that cannot be used for menu items, including produce, poultry, fish and meat trim. All scratch kitchens produce a ton of this material. I have a group of cooks that are proud to use every viable item.

I'm consistently amazed by the creativity and care that I see as these folks cook for each other. As an example, I have a veteran cook who routinely makes delicious flavored waters from vegetable and fruit trim – material that in most kitchens would end up in the garbage can. I'm proud to work with these people.

What are you doing to make the restaurant more sustainable? Paddlefish sources seafood products with sustainability in mind using the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch Program as a guidepost. We are also converting our disposable items to greener options. As an example, we have eliminated plastic straws from our operation.

click to enlarge Paddlefish chef Steven Richard makes a mean lobster roll, but secretly loves Coney dogs
Photo by Rob Bartlett

What was your first food addiction? When I was a kid, my dad would take me to a hot dog place where they only served "Coney dogs" and nothing else. The dogs were done on a flat-top grill and served on a steamed bun with yellow mustard, diced onion and "sauce." The sauce was nearly chili, but not exactly, and the recipe was a closely guarded secret. I've done my best to reproduce it in my home kitchen and in the restaurant. We recently celebrated National Hot Dog day at Paddlefish with my version of the Coney dog. Not bad, but the mystery still eludes me. ( ▲