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Meet Jermaine Owens of North Fork Seafood

Jermaine is on the menu for our next episode of Chef Series

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Despite the growing consumption of local seafood, having the skill to fillet fish like you can do it in your sleep is a declining art, says Jermaine Owens, who owns North Fork Seafood with his partner Danielle Cullen.
“I am a second generation fish cutter,” he says using a term he picked up during his entire life in the fish biz, “and it’s a dying art.” Southampton born, Owens has worked in every aspect of the industry: 27 years on party boats, fishing boats and in the big fish markets like Cor-J in Hampton Bays and Braun in Cutchogue.
“I’ve always been around boats,” he adds.
This time of the year the fishery is opening up with the arrival of porgies, black sea bass and fluke; Owens knows ahead of time. “I can smell it when a big school of fish is in the waters,” he says. He also knows what his catch likes to eat as they grow. “In the cold weather they like softer bait.”
Pre-covid, Owens and Cullen opened a fish store on Shelter Island, which also had a restaurant. Things went well, until they didn’t. The store closed and the couple were back at square one. Owens’ phone started ringing. Friends in Greenport wanted to know where they could get some fish. He sourced down at the docks and delivered it to their door. She told two friends and they told two friends and then customers on the North and South forks were texting their orders and the couple was busy.
The popularity of fish tacos put porgy on the menu; Owens will deliver them whole or filleted. Black sea bass is very popular, says Cullen, because it’s such sturdy, thick white fish. “We eat it alot,” she says, but Owens likes his fried and she likes it oven baked. The fish holds up well in both dishes. 
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Cooking Slow with Fishermen

Jermaine will be a part of the next episode of SFEE’s Chef Series, which features chef/restaurant owner/author, and North Fork Seafood customer Ned Baldwin of Houseman in New York City. The cooking demo/fundraiser will be on zoom Wednesday, March 31 from 6 – 7 p.m. Tickets are $50 for general admission and $40 for Slow Food members. The confirmation email will include the Zoom link and a link to some of Ned’s recipes.
Wed, Mar 31, 2021 6:00 PM EST
Chef Series: Cooking Slow With Ned Baldwin
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In addition to the delivery service, the couple has teamed up with Zilniki’s Farm in Riverhead to provide seafood for their CSA. The farm is part of a network that uses a website so customers can customize their boxes, something new on the East End. 
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During the month of March on Saturdays, they sold prepared food for pickup from the Grit and Grace space on the Main Road in Southold. 
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North Fork Seafood’s main advertising venues are Facebook, which has a form to set up orders, and Instagram. But by the time you’re a regular, your number will be in Owen’s phone and he’ll see your name when you text to place an order. They are working on plans to open a retail space somewhere on the North Fork. 
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Owens says fisheries have been restored better than ever before and most workers are waiting for the federal government to raise limits. And then the smell of a school of fish will only get stronger.
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AAQ / Resource: Otis Ford, Since 1946, Quogue

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