You may know Brandon Blackwell from his days at Cleaver & Co. and also from his popular pop up Splendid Pig, which he runs with wife Jennifer Sherrod-Blackwell. But on April 10, you'll know the Blackwells as the duo behind Elysian Seafood, bringing fresh and prepared seafood, a pre-order seafood program, and small plates to the highly-anticipated St. Roch Market.
Here now, Brandon Blackwell talks about the inspiration behind Elysian Seafood and a tapas-style shrimp dish to look out for.
What all will you be offering at St. Roch Market?
Well, we'll be the seafood vendor and we'll also be offering a small rotating selection of fresh seafood items like crab, shrimp, about four varieties of fish. We'll always try to have something on the lower price end like catfish, and we'll be sourcing everything locally, so a lot of it will depend on seasonality and what's coming out of the water. To compensate for the limited space for selection, we'll be offering a pre-order program, if people are looking are something we don't have, we can get it from our supplier right away or for a specific time. It's how we'll work around the space constraints. We're also offering seafood-focused small plates, both hot and cold. The menu will change regularly, just like we did with Splendid Pig.
What's the one dish that you're most excited to offer and why?
Probably the roasted shrimp dish with tomato, horseradish and lemon zest. We fashioned it like a dish you'd find at a traditional tapas bar, but with the flavors of shrimp cocktail. It'll be head on shrimp, so it's a dish you can really dig into.
What does St. Roch Market mean to you? Why did you apply for a vendor spot?
I didn't know much about the history before Katrina. When we first heard about the renovation, I was still at Cleaver & Company, who had originally put a bid in. Will and Barre, the guys who ended up developing the space, are also behind Launchpad. It's like they're taking that idea of the communal workspace and applying it to food service. It's basically an incubator, bringing people who do pop-ups or food trucks or just have a really good idea and exposing them to something like this with a built in customer base. It gives us the opportunity to define our place in the food scene.
They originally approached us about bringing Splendid Pig to the market, but that didn't seem like the right fit. But then the seafood vendor they were talking to at that time didn't end up working out so we thought the seafood concept fit us much better. People are a little surprised about that, but we're both food professionals of more than a decade. I know as much about fish as I know about pork and beef.
What other vendor are you most excited about?
Ooh, that's a tough one. Some vendors we didn't know about until we got in here, and others we've known for a long time. If I had to choose, probably Lagos, with Tunde bringing in the Nigerian food. It's just so unique and different. It's got so much excitement behind it, and it's unknown.