There is an old proverb that goes, "Give a man a fish and you feed him for a day; teach a man to fish and you feed him for a lifetime." To that I might add, provide a place to purchase a fish, freshly caught, with all the finest spices and sauces and recipe books and preparation ideas, and you have a terrific concept.
Buddy Galletti of Southwind Foods/Great American Seafood, a processor and distributor located in Carson, had long wanted to open a seafood market in his hometown on the Palos Verdes Peninsula.
So, he brought in Tim Aupperle, the manager of Whole Foods seafood department for 28 years. The recent Amazon buyout of Whole Foods led to some restructuring, and rather than move to Texas, Aupperle resigned. Galletti immediately offered him a position running the retail side of their distribution business.
Which is a long way of saying, Whole Food's loss is our gain.
The Great American International Seafood Market, which opened in December in the Golden Cove Center Mall in Rancho Palos Verdes, is spacious, warm and welcoming.
Not unlike that huge Italian emporium on the Westside, Eately, the International Seafood Market starts with a fine product, in this case seafood, then offers several iterations of that product and tangential products, the best seasonings and sauces and tools for preparing that product.
The layout is clean and clever, melding modern displays with nods to the past, including a photo of Galletti's father on a late 50's San Pedro fishing boat, surrounded by crew.
Aupperle designed the place with a homey feel.
"I sat down with Buddy. It's been his dream to have a retail business for almost 40 years," said Aupperle. "He wanted a warm feeling store that when you come in, it's inviting, and you want to stay."
Aupperle was also inspired by the humble sardine. Captivated by the beautiful tinned fish found in Northern Spain and Portugal, he traveled Europe collecting the finest in the gourmet tins that are difficult if not impossible to find in the U.S.
One such display is filled with tuna, sardines, small squid, octopus, razor clams and cockles in brine, beautifully packaged.
He selected a company in Atlanta for its variety of seafood sauces; cherry-balsamic grilling sauce, tangerine-honey or sweet bourbon grilling glaze, alongside pestos and cocktails sauces. (Aupperle swears by the tangy lemon-caper sauce.)
There's also a wall of single origin, single varietal, first pressing olive oils. And if paella is your passion, you can find the shellfish, the spices, the Bomba rice and even the pan.
Of course, there's a fresh fish case with local and international catches, poke and crab cakes, salmon and tiliapia, some already seasoned and sauced. There's plenty of shellfish, octopus and lobster.
The market also carries some carefully chosen cuts of prime beef. and, the place is full service, so they will clean and scale and filet and schuck.
For your outdoor grill, you'll find smoking planks and chips, charcoal chimney starters, rubs and seasonings including an assortment of finishing salts.
There's also a grab-and-go case with sushi delivered daily from Kikka sushi, an array of cheeses, fresh smoked or marinated fish, crab, caviar and blinis, pickled herrings and ceviches. In a nod to Galletti's Sicilian heritage you'll also find a display of rice, pastas, polentas, risottos and sauces imported from Italy.
Another case holds frozen and value pack items, both private label and from other suppliers.
Most of the fish comes direct from their own processing facility, so it can be a little fresher and a little cheaper. They also have great relationships with local fisherman.
"A couple weeks back when the swordfish were running, we were able to process it and get it into the case within hours at the unbeatable price of $8.88 pound," said Aupperle.
The seafood market plans to add a van for delivery service and is pursuing a license to sell fine wines to complete your meal. Most of all, Aupperle said, they want to be here for the community. Bring them your special orders and fishy requests, and they'll do their best to please.
The Great American International Seafood Market is located at 31224 Palos Verdes Dr. West, in Rancho Palos Verdes. For more information, visit greatamericanseafoodmarket.com.
Eileen Shields is a South Bay food writer and creator of "The Bench": contact her at firstname.lastname@example.org.