Making Connections

While hockey and seafood are both held on ice, they aren’t really connected…unless you happen to be watching a cooking show called Plates and Skates. This new Youtube series pairs chefs with hockey players in a Zoom-based format that has become one of our faves. The holiday edition featured DC Chef Joel “Jojo” Thomas and Capitals winger Garnet Hathaway. The episode’s goal, so to speak, was seafood chowder, which is a great dish after a snowy day (we’ve had a few of those lately).

Garnet Hathaway was the perfect choice to team with Chef Jojo, as he’s from a Maine fishing family and he ran a lobster roll business during college (dude played D1 hockey at Brown and still found time for a side hustle, pretty amazing). Chef Jojo is a very popular private Chef who also knows his way around the rink—in part through his great charity work at the Black Girl Hockey Club.

We loved the look of their dish—which thickens with starch from the potatoes instead of scoops of flour—so we reached out to Chef Jojo via Instagram to get more details. He generously shared the recipe and offered to help me along, which made for a very fun connection (albeit a bit unbalanced—maybe like having Garnet Hathaway skate with my rec league hockey team).

As with any seafood dish, fresh is best, so Souzz and I brought the recipe along on a few recent trips to the Carolina Outer Banks and the Chesapeake Bay.

In the Outer Banks, we picked up some nice seafood at a market called Carawan, including shrimp, red drum, scallops, and striped bass. We couldn’t find lobster, so we didn’t exactly follow the recipe—but using what’s local seemed to make sense.

The variety of fish gave our chowder some different textures, and thick fillets (instead of tips) yielded chunks of similar size that cooked more evenly. The stock matters a lot, too, and we made our own by boiling/simmering water with shrimp shells, onions, celery, carrots, garlic, salt, pepper, white wine, and olive oil.

We prepared the chowder a second time on a Valentine’s weekend trip to White Stone near the Chesapeake Bay. White Stone is on the Northern Neck in a beautiful part of Virginia, with plenty to see and do–even on an icy, rainy weekend. There are tons of nearby trails, lots of wildlife, and views over the tidal part of the Rappahannock River. And we loved our little AirBnB cottage, perfect for a getaway.

White Stone has a great local market, Miss Mary Seafood, that’s open year-round. It’s a family-owned business that’s been in operation since 1980, and it offers a variety of fresh catch every day. We found rockfish, shrimp, bay scallops, and Rappahannock oysters, along with a super-helpful staff that gave us great advice and treated us like friends. According to Chef Jojo, “the best thing about cooking is the connections that you make,” and we felt like we made a few more at the market.

A lot of different combinations of seafood would work well for the chowder, and it really wasn’t super-difficult. We used a bit more stock than last time and flavored things up with Old Bay per Chef Jojo’s instructions. We also found some ideas from the cookbooks at the cottage, including one from a bank in nearby Kilmarnock. Souzz loves to borrow in bits and drabs across recipes, and especially local ones.

We’re glad that Chef Jojo connected with Garnet Hathaway to be our inspiration for this dish, and we look forward to enjoying it down the road while watching a Caps game. In Chef Jojo’s words, the world is “going through some tough times, and people rely on sports and a good meal to get them through.” As a tip of the cap (or should I say Cap?), we made a modest donation to Hathaway’s charity for first responders, Hath’s Heroes, and another to the Black Girl Hockey Club in honor of Chef Jojo.

As we enjoyed our dinner in front of the fire this past weekend, I reminded Souzz that we have our own parallel to Skates and Plates: her cooking skills are pretty solid, and I still play a little rec league hockey. She nodded reflexively, which served to point out what was a pretty contrived connection. But at least the chowder was good—and nothing says “Happy Valentine’s Day” quite like a bowl of chowder, right?

2 thoughts on “Making Connections

  1. Court, as I read this I could hear your voice telling the story!! The pictures and chowder both looked amazing!! Can’t wait until we can all be together and you cook up an awesome meal for us! Thanks for sharing. Be well.

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