The Oceanaire Brickell: Notes From the Sea Butcher

A sea butcher is the knife artist behind the filet of fish on your plate. In the case of the Oceanaire Seafood Room, the sea butcher is Ezequiel Canul, a.k.a. E-Z.

He 9-to-5's his way through the day in a freezing cold seafood walk-in where he breaks down all the seafood products that require it for the whole restaurant, or about 150 pounds a day.

E-Z says, "I learned with the company. I used to be a cook, working the grill. Then I got a promotion and they trained me."

So what happens to all the fish heads, skins, bones, and tails that get left behind when a filet is cut? Executive Chef Sean Bernal says, "We make a stock about once a week. The rest of the time we give it to the dishwashers. This is a family. The Haitians, they make a big pot of fish head soup with it and feed their families. They don't make a lot of money so we look out for them."

Here are some more pictures.

Alaskan King Crab hits the Oceanaire, and every other U.S. restaurant pre cooked. Chef Sean says, "In the U.S. it's illegal to sell it raw." The above crabs were caught in Dutch Harbor, Alaska, where the reality show Deadliest Catch is filmed.

Part of the Oceanaire's training program entailed Sean's working on a crab boat too. "The company flew us out there to Dutch Harbor and I spent seven days out there with two other chefs seeing and being a part of every part of the process of crabbing. I was out there on the ship pulling traps and everything. The whole process is amazing. They cook the crabs in this brine tank bath and then 6 more, each with more salt."

Jorge Padilla Rodriguez is the pastry chef at the Oceanaire Seafood Room in Brickell, but he's also in charge of receiving. Every item that comes into the restaurant, and they source from all over the world, goes through Jorge, and he has to sign off on it before it hits the shelf.

Last year's deadliest catch came from ships with names like Early Dawn, Fierce Allegiance and The Arctic Lady. The traceability stickers are all over the outside of the sea freezer.

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Jacob Katel
Contact: Jacob Katel