Sierra Meat & Seafood of Reno offers fresh, sustainable products | SierraSun.com

Sierra Meat & Seafood of Reno offers fresh, sustainable products

Do you ever wonder how North Lake Tahoe restaurants are able to offer some of the best fish dishes around, though the region is quite a stretch from the ocean?

Sierra Meat & Seafood located in Reno, Nev., has created a seafood oasis in the desert, supplying most of your favorite top-notch North Lake Tahoe restaurants with their quality seafood ingredients since 2006.

"We go deep into all genres of seafood," said Tom Ryan, senior vice president of sales and marketing for Sierra Meat & Seafood.

"There are a lot of folks who only do frozen, but we feel we provide a better service to the marketplace doing everything from live, to recently not-live and definitely not-live with the frozen fish," he laughed.

Sierra Meat & Seafood pulls up the freshest fish you can find from the Bay Area twice a week and from Los Angeles twice a week. They also have micro-shipments from all around the country, even Hawaii, depending on the seasonality of the fish.

All of the fish Sierra gets is whole, on the bone, and freshly cut by their in-house experts immediately upon arrival, making for safer travel of the quality products.

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Another initiative of Sierra Meat & Seafood is sustainability.

"We're answering our customers' demands; people are realizing that we're over-fishing these days and not being good stewards of the ocean. Chefs are willing to pay more for products sourced in a sustainable manner," Ryan said.

He explained that for every pound of salmon, fishermen typically burn through three to five pounds of feeder fish to get the product.

"That's not exactly what you'd classify as sustainable — we can't be wiping out feeder fish species to sustain bigger ones," he said.

The outcome of their mindful approach to sourcing seafood means they work only with reputable operations that don't push the envelope.

"For example, in Alaska, fishing wild king salmon, the fishery closes after a certain number of pounds. We want to work with people who are stopping when they're supposed to stop. It helps to police the industry. When you see pricing that is too good to be true, it probably is, stay away from it," Ryan said.

Thanks to their work ethic, fostering relationships with restaurants and chefs around the region, and offering the highest quality products — Sierra Meat & Seafood's fin and shellfish is served at several area hotspots. That includes Morgan's Lobster Shack & Fish Market, Bar of America, Moody's Bistro Bar & Beats, Pianeta Ristorante ,and Restaurant Trokay, to name a few.

Among their clientele is Jake's on the Lake, where executive chef Aaron Zilinski prepares gourmet culinary confections using Sierra Meat & Seafood's acclaimed sea fare.

"We really do enjoy working with Sierra Meat & Seafood, Rusty is one of the best purveyors, he bends over backward for us. He knows about the area and will stop by to say hi and hang out — it's not always just about the quality of what you're working with, but who you're working with," Zilinski said.

In addition to the special touch of hands-on personal assistance and relationship building, Zilinski said they rely on Sierra's years of expertise and trustworthiness in providing the freshest fish around.

"We've done our research, we only do wild caught, no farm raised, no added dyes or preservatives," he said.

"We pride ourselves on having everything fresh, we'd rather remove something from the menu to have the best quality product served to guests. When we're ordering new products or looking for something new we rely on their past experience — they know the product and are honest and respectful," Zilinski added.

And do the Sierra Meat & Seafood representatives know their product. Their website features blog posts of all kinds of new recipes to try with different meat and seafood ingredients.

"Around the office here, black cod is very, very popular," said Tom Ryan, who is senior vice president of sales and marketing for the company.

"Whenever we get it in, I wonder if we sell more to our clients or our own employees."

Ryan suggested another of his personal favorites, porcini mushroom dusted sable fish.

"It involves a sauté pan, salt and pepper, flour, porcini mushroom powder, then just make a quick lemon and white whine reduction with the pan drippings," he said.

"It's just delicious, definitely a favorite and it's easy to do — it's within the grasp of a regular civilian cook; they're so sophisticated these days with their palette it's impressive," Ryan added.

If that isn't mouthwatering enough, picture the delicious meal that could had from Jake's on the Lake, where their culinary staff provides a menu filled with their guest's favorite dishes, offering signature plates with a couple seafood options from Sierra Meat & Seafood, year-round.

"We do a really popular macadamia nut crusted halibut that's really nice," Zilinski said.

"We do a passion fruit beurre blanc, mountain red blend rice, and julienned vegetables with that dish. Scallops have also become a signature dish of ours since the tasting we did from Autumn Food and Wine," he said.

Sierra Meat & Seafood accepts public orders on a will call basis, with advance notice of 24 hours.

Ryan says the meat and seafood supplier has come a long way in the decades they've been in the food industry, and it's all due to honest, hard work.

"We have such a sense of gratitude, we feel very blessed and very lucky that we get to work with most of the area chefs and we really also realize there's a great responsibility in supplying restaurants, resorts, country clubs with a good product — we love to make people happy. And having a good relationship with customers is something we take very seriously."

"Don't let off the pressure," Ryan went on to say.

"If the average consumer continues to demand quality and sustainability, if they're willing to vote with their purchasing dollar, there can be a significant change in the marketplace."

Cassandra Walker is a features and entertainment reporter for the Sierra Sun. She can be reached at cwalker@sierrasun.com, 530-550-2654 or @snow1cass.

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