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Thursday, July 2, 2015

June Meeting of the Southwest Florida Chefs ACF Chapter

The American Culinary Federation  (ACF) is a group of chefs and food industry professionals. ACF has almost 18,000 members and 200 chapters in the U.S. Their mission is education, certification, scholarship and inclusion in international competition.

The chapter in Fort Myers, FL is ACF Southwest Florida Chefs. Almost every month they hold a chapter meeting. This one was unique in that it was held at the Mermaid Spice Corporation in Fort Myers. 

The owner and his story are very interesting but more on that later. It must have been over 100 degrees that day but a number of people donated their time and goods to feed those at the meeting.

Blue Crawfish Catering brought their food truck

 and generously provided shrimp and crawfish Etoufee,


and chicken and sausage Gumbo.

Fontanini provided a number of meats for attendees including Chivalini sausage and pot roast,

breakfast sausage and meatballs

and beef Brisket and cheeses for sliders.

To help wash all this down, Fat Point Brewing

and Old Soul Brewing

poured samples of their beers.

We then got a tour of the spice company by the owner, Mike Assad.

Mike is from Morocco, and his family has been in the spice trade since the middle of the 19th century. After becoming a mechanical engineer and food chemist, he landed in Fort Myers and starting processing spices and spice blends in the 1980's.

We talked a bit about spices and as with any plant, Terroir, or the interaction of the environment with plant genetics plays a big role in the quality of the end product. For example, cinnamon from Sri Lanka comes from some trees that are 500 years old, fetching $300 per pound while other cinnamon sells for $1. The best Saffron comes from Iran and that grown in Spain regarded as a cut below.

I asked Mike if one wanted to get into this business how long it would take to know what you were doing. He told me 7-10 years!

He then showed us where his spices are ground and processed,


and packaged.

where else around here can you find 40 gallon barrels of steak seasoning

 or smoked Paprika.

At the end of the meeting was an awards ceremony

and everyone was given a gift bag with some mermaid spice blends.

Another evening of fun and food and another post on Forks.

Mermaid Spice Corp.
5702 Corporation Cir.
Fort Myers, FL 33905
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