Meet the Team Making the Most of Seafood — for Tonight and Tomorrow

Our mission to advance the sustainability of our seafood and world can’t be done alone.

Secret Island’s Brand Ambassadors share our passion for the delicious, healthy differences our products and practices can make on your plate and for our planet. They offer everything from innovative recipes for your favorite new fish dish and info on salmon’s boundless brain and body benefits to insights on how aquaculture can help bring us back in balance with nature’s grand plan.

Meet Our Chef Ambassadors

CHEF AMBASSADOR

Jose
Garces

CHEF AMBASSADOR

Carolina
Bazan

HEALTH AMBASSADOR

Lourdes Castro,
MS RD

Meet Jose Garces

Chef Ambassador

Jose Garces is a James-Beard-winning Iron Chef with an eye on the future and a deep respect for his past. As one of today’s foremost authorities on Latin cooking, he continues to search for new ways to share his culinary creativity through his restaurants, cookbooks, online cooking classes, TV appearances, and more. But the Garces Foundation he co-founded that provides ongoing assistance to his local immigrant community also reflects Chef Garces’ deep appreciation for the roots that ground the career and family he loves.  

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What was the most important lesson you learned from the paternal grandmother who taught you the Latin way of cooking?

I’ve received countless lessons cooking at the knee of Mamita Amada, my dad’s mom. Aside from learning more than anyone should know about the various types of empanada dough, I think the most important thing she taught me was the value of connecting with your roots. I learned that through them, we can use food to embrace others into our mix of culture and customs to share a true view of our souls.

Please detail how salmon can be incorporated into traditional Latin food recipes.

Salmon can be used in nearly any Latin American recipe that calls for seafood. It is a relatively forgiving fish in terms of durability and allows for a wide range of applications. Coastal Mexican cuisine is ideal for spicy salmon tacos. Looking farther south for inspiration, in Ecuador, you could use it in a salmon encocado, cooked with coconut milk, tomato, peppers, and citrus, or a ceviche presentation. And you could also do a take on Peruvian Causa that features mashed potatoes and flaked salmon.

From your perspective as an award-winning chef at food & wine festivals, can you share a few of the wines you’d recommend to go with a salmon meal?

Salmon is interesting because while it is a fish normally served solely with white wine, it also has enough body and oil to hold up to some lighter reds. My specific recommendations (depending on the presentation) are Viognier, Garnache, Beaujolais Nouveau, Sauvignon Blanc, Dry Rose, and Txakolina.

Meet Carolina Bazan

Chef Ambassador

Other chefs might seek fame by reaching for Michelin stars, but Carolina Bazán’s passion for taking home-style foods to new heights led to her success. The Chilean chef spent years cooking in her mother’s kitchen and restaurant before traveling to Peru, Brazil, Italy, and France, where she perfected her signature culinary style before returning home. Though Bazán was recognized in 2019 as “Latin America’s Best Female Chef,” the popular appeal she’s earned comes from her singular pursuit of food that’s “intense in flavor but simple in preparation.”

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As a Chilean chef, what are your thoughts on Secret Island’s impact on Chile’s aquaculture industry?

I am the biggest lover of Chilean fish and seafood; I think there’s nothing like it in the world due to our cold-water temperatures and purity. I saw for myself how Secret Island takes care of our environment and our wildlife. I believe its aquaculture practices make them one of the leading sustainable companies in the salmon industries in my country.

How have your global culinary travels yielded insights into how you prepare salmon or seafood in general?

I’ve learned that salmon preparation depends on which cut you are using. For the belly, I use a blow torch to warm it up and melt the fat, add a bit of flaky sea salt and a little bit of lemon zest, and voilà!  The loin is great for grilling. Leave the skin on and grill it on the skin side so it crisps up, and enjoy it, skin on. The lean tail works excellent for tartare, and seasonings can give it more personality. But my travels have also taught me that a good product like Secret Island Salmon speaks for itself and that you shouldn’t “put too much makeup on it.”

What pro tips can you share to let everyday cooks elevate the salmon dishes they make at home?

The best tip for anyone is not to overcook your salmon. Keep the center pink, not raw, but try not to go beyond 55ºc (131ºf) to keep it juicy and flavorful. At the restaurant, I sous vide it for ten minutes at 54ºc (129ºf) to make it flaky, tasty, and perfectly cooked. Finish it off by basting it with some herbs, garlic, and a couple of spoons of butter, and your salmon will shine like a star!

Meet Lourdes Castro, MD RD

Health Ambassador

Whether in the kitchen or the classroom, Lourdes Castro focuses on food that delivers good taste and nutrition. As a registered dietician, professor of nutrition and food studies, and health expert with regular appearances on TV, Lourdes shares her intimate understanding of why we are what we eat. But as the author of four cookbooks and recipes showcased in countless national publications, that academic insight is balanced by the Cuban heritage Lourdes draws upon to create Latin dishes that please the palate while supporting robust health.

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What is the relationship between fish health and human health?

The health status of a fish directly impacts the nutritional benefits they offer us, and that status depends on the presence or absence of any harmful substances it might carry. Ensuring that fish come from clean waters and reputable suppliers is paramount. And the nutritional benefits of fish are heavily influenced by its diet. If its feed is well balanced, it translates into a higher concentration of vitamins, minerals, and other essential nutrients in its flesh, making it more nutritious.

How does salmon stock up against other meats as a healthy source of protein?

Salmon is an excellent source of complete protein. It achieves a more favorable nutritional profile from its lower calorie and saturated fat content than other meats like beef, pork, and chicken. But its richness in omega-3 fatty acids is what really elevates salmon’s health benefits. Incorporating it into your diet ensures a high-quality protein source. It delivers an ample supply of heart-healthy omega-3 fatty acids, making it a top choice for those seeking to maintain a balanced and nutritious eating regimen.

How do advanced technologies like Secret Island’s Hazard Analysis and Critical Control Point System (HACCP) safeguard human health?

HACCP is vital to ensuring food safety. It is a comprehensive and science-based preventive system that identifies, evaluates, and controls potential food production and handling hazards. It involves a thorough analysis of critical control points throughout the food chain, from raw material sourcing to final consumption, to proactively mitigate risks and maintain the highest standards of food safety. By implementing HACCP principles, robust guardrails are established that help minimize the risks of foodborne illness and guarantee the integrity of food products, ensuring a safe food supply for everyone.

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