Challenging Conventional Crustacean Norms: Hotel chef exudes epicurean imagination by turning to a largely untapped delicacy from the deep—Antarctic krill meat—for its combination of taste, versatility, nutrition and economic value
Video: Interview with Chef Arnold De La Cruz and Chef Mikel Crawford’s Krill & Bacon Croquette Lollipops
Today’s hospitality industry demands several key food and beverage program factors to thrive and meet the evolving needs of customers. Of course, this includes nuts-and-bolts considerations for brick-and-mortar restaurants like design and décor, technology integration, sustainability practices, guest-centric service and DEI-driven staffing. But, the modern restaurant landscape overarchingly commands culinary excellence, including that from eateries and private chefs entrenched—or otherwise engaged with—hotels, resorts, private villas and other hospitality interests.
The modern restaurant marketplace requires exceptional and memorable overall dining experiences—those that are distinctive and duly differentiate an eatery from its competitors. This could involve a focus on high-quality ingredients, innovative flavors, skillful culinary techniques, themed dining, interactive elements, immersive storytelling or collaborations with local artisans or farmers to create an unforgettable and authentic atmosphere.
In the ever-evolving restaurant space, culinary professionals must possess adaptability and flexibility to seize new epicurean opportunities as they arise. Such is the case with Chef Arnold De La Cruz, an innovative chef at Quantum Kitchen, which is located within the Courtyard by Marriott in downtown Fort Lauderdale. Chef Arnold is challenging conventional crustacean norms by introducing a unique and largely untapped protein source to tantalize taste buds: Antarctic krill meat.
For the most part, krill meat is a relatively new protein that most consumers—and even some food industry pundits—have never heard of or certainly tasted. This truth has motivated these two forward-thinking hospitality chefs to expand culinary horizons and utilize this ingredient to surprise, excite and satiate their guests. In doing so, they are blazing a tasty new trail that other chefs are sure to follow.
For inventory and inspiration, Chef Arnold turned to Krill Arctic Foods—the preeminent, first-to-market global supplier of this unique seafood extolled for its nutritional value and versatility. Indeed, with a shrimp-like taste and a crab-like texture, this highly adaptable ingredient can be used as a primary or complementary ingredient in several recipe types: dips, sauces, salads, dressings, spreads, stuffing, soups, pizza, sushi, fried rice, burgers, fritters, cakes, chowders, stuffed peppers, stuffed mushrooms, raviolis and other pastas, dumplings and more induced by epicurean imagination.
The company recently made a splash at the National Restaurant Association (NRA) show held May 2023 in Chicago, where its krill meat samples were lauded by a wide range of show attendees in the hundreds—from global big box retailers, chefs, hoteliers and restauranteurs to government agencies and beyond.
“At the NRA expo, we doled out at least 500 samples served in three different applications—one on water crackers with and without avocado spread and another ceviche style with chopped tomato, cucumbers, black pepper and lemon—with not one single person having a negative reply … and those who were initially hesitant to try said they really liked it for a number of different reasons,” said Alfred Nasti, Krill Arctic Foods Founder and CEO. “Our booth had a steady stream of buyers, executives from numerous chain hotels, executive chefs seeking culinary inspiration, buyers with many the most globally-recognized big box brands and so many others curious about this epicurean enigma. The feedback received on our various krill tasting samples was resoundingly positive.”
The company also made a great impact at the Fancy Food Show where they were acknowledged for being one of the trendiest new foods, landing themselves coverage with Bloomberg, Bushwick Bites, New Hope Network, Trend Hunter and more.
In what may be a global hospitality industry first, Chef Arnold has thoughtfully crafted exciting new specialty salads at Quantum Kitchen, centering them around this sustainably-caught superfood supplied by Krill Arctic Foods. One of his beloved creations features Antarctic krill meat paired with zesty lemon aioli and creamy Hass avocado, stuffed with dragon fruit and paired with a mix of greens, Lola Rosa lettuce, baby heirloom tomatoes, juicy orange segments and a sprinkle of pink peppercorn—all topped with a crispy truffle panko crust. The restaurant’s signature citrus vinaigrette perfectly complements this exquisite krill masterpiece.
Vedran Sosa, General Manager of The Easton Rooftop Pool & Lounge in Fort Lauderdale, raved about Chef Arnold’s Arctic Krill Avocado Salad, saying, “It was absolutely delicious; I relished the blend of tropical and Arctic flavors. The combination of avocado and Antarctic krill is a fantastic pairing. The mixed greens and dragon fruit slices lend a refreshing burst, while the orange slices with their zesty citrus twist were a delightful surprise.”
Chef Arnold expressed his belief in the value of krill meat as a superb addition to any menu. He stated, “Krill meat sets itself apart from the everyday local fare and is a rare find in most dining establishments. I think its underutilization in the food service industry is primarily due to its unfamiliarity among consumers and chefs alike. However, if introduced in the right establishments where adventurous clientele seek unique culinary experiences with distinct flavors and textures, I am confident it would be extremely well-received.”
Also notable is that Chef Arnold not only incorporates krill into salads as a substitute for shrimp and crabmeat, but also creates enticing main courses such as krill-infused pasta dishes. Furthermore, he highlights the ingredient’s versatility for breakfast, noting, “Arctic krill can be incorporated into breakfast menus as it is. It can crown Eggs Benedict or be included in a variety of other seafood-based options. I appreciate its delicate texture and light flavor, which enhance its adaptability. Krill meat is also a healthy choice for guests mindful of their calorie intake or following high protein, gluten-free, or paleo diets.”
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Antarctic krill, with a scientific name Euphausia Superba, are small crustaceans about 10mm to 65mm in length with a translucent body that has a reddish tint. Rich in a multitude of vitamins, minerals, antioxidants and omega 3s, krill is one of the healthiest foods on the planet and are famed for “nourishing an entire ecosystem.” Krill are considered keystone species, meaning they play a vital role in the ecosystem by serving as a major food source for a wide range of marine organisms, including fish, whales, penguins, seals and seabirds. Krill can form enormous swarms that contain millions of individuals. Krill feed on phytoplankton (microscopic algae) and zooplankton, filtering tiny particles from the water using specialized appendages called thoracopods. They are known for their unique feeding behavior, often forming dense swarms near the ocean surface where they feed on blooms of phytoplankton.
Wild and Mindfully Harvested
According to Nasti, krill is 100% sustainable and his operation is recognized as one of the most sustainably run wild fisheries in the world as it conducts operations in adherence with strict industry guidelines. These crustaceans are harvested by Krill Arctic Foods in the pure pristine waters of the Antarctic Ocean. The freshly caught krill are cleaned, then blanched and frozen, within three to four hours to maintain maximum taste, texture and nutritional value. The company’s factory Vessel, the “More Sodruzhestva 2,” is the only one of its kind that has the capabilities to catch, clean and process Antarctic Krill on board. It is then heat sealed into cans with water and its own natural oils.
Environmental & Ecosystem Integrity
Krill meat is not just delicious, but it provides the same health benefits as Krill Oil Supplements. It does this in delicious form with negligible environmental impact. Nasti reports that around 2% of the world’s krill supply is used in the food chain, with upwards of 80% harvested for oil supplements.
Amid several articles discussing how overfishing of krill is having a negative impact on our marine life, Nasti weighs in on the important topic. “We make sure to do our part to ensure that our fishing does not negatively impact our marine ecosystems in any way,” he says. “Our Krill meat is caught within the strict guidelines established by the The Convention for the Conservation of Antarctic Marine Living Resources, known as the CCAMLR, to ensure and promote the health and sustainability of the krill population in the Antarctic Ocean. The CCAMLR is made up of 25 member countries who get together once a year in October to make decisions to protect and conserve the Southern Marine Ecosystem. One of the topics discussed is what the quota for the fisheries will be to ensure that there is enough krill left over for all the marine life that depends on it to survive. Our annual krill quota is less than 2% of the total krill biomass, which is estimated to be up to 500 million metric tons.
Among its health benefits, krill is known to have the highest source of protein with a digestibility rate far higher than the digestible protein in other meat sources, making krill a far superior protein source. In fact, one study published in the journal Food Chemistry investigated the digestibility of Antarctic krill meal and found a digestibility rate of 89.1% for protein and 89.6% for lipid.
Krill is keto and paleo-friendly. Because it is the only marine crustacean with a vegan-based diet, this meat is the perfect choice for those looking for a healthy and sustainable protein source. Of course, it is always optimal to get your vitamins, minerals, and nutrients from food first and supplement last. While Krill oil does have numerous health benefits from the healthy fats and antioxidants it contains, Antarctic krill meat has all the benefits of krill oil and more—including 15 grams of digestible protein per 105g serving.
According to Krill Arctic Foods, Antarctic krill meat helps to lower cholesterol, reduce inflammation, maintain healthy eyes and vision, support brain function, aid in weight loss, promote metabolic and reproductive health, aid in anti-aging and promote healthier hair skin and nails, neutralize free radicals to prevent cellular damage, helps support liver function and even aids in lowering depression.
The introductory offer for Antarctic Krill Meat is $5 per can ($200) for a 40 can case and those purchasing 6 cases will receive a 7th case for free. It’s also notable that our Antarctic Krill meat has an extensive shelf life of three full years.
For hospitality brands seeking a unique and healthy specialty item that will set its restaurant, private chef or catering operation or other food business apart from the rest, Krill Arctic Foods offers sustainably fished, premium quality Antarctic krill meat that can serve as a genius go-to.
Merilee Kern, MBA is an internationally-regarded brand strategist and analyst who reports on cultural shifts and trends as well as noteworthy industry change makers, movers, shakers and innovators across all categories, both B2C and B2B. This includes field experts and thought leaders, brands, products, services, destinations and events. Merilee is Founder, Executive Editor and Producer of “The Luxe List” as well as Host of the “Savvy Living” lifestyle TV show that airs in New York, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Miami, Atlanta and other major markets on CBS, FOX and other top networks; as well as the “Savvy Ventures” business TV show that airs nationally on FOX Business TV and Bloomberg TV. Merilee also hosts the Savvy Ventures Podcast & Radio show available globally on W4CY Radio—the #1 ranked live streaming radio station—among others as well as all major podcast platforms, including Pandora, Audible, Spotify, Amazon Music, Apple Podcasts, Streamyard, iHeart Radio and dozens more. As a prolific lifestyle, travel, dining and leisure industry voice of authority and tastemaker, Merilee keeps her finger on the pulse of the marketplace in search of new and innovative must-haves and exemplary experiences at all price points, from the affordable to the extreme. Her work reaches multi-millions worldwide via broadcast TV (her own shows and copious others on which she appears) as well as a myriad of print and online publications. Connect with her at www.TheLuxeList.com and www.SavvyLiving.tv / Instagram www.Instagram.com/MerileeKern / Twitter www.Twitter.com/MerileeKern / Facebook www.Facebook.com/MerileeKernOfficial / LinkedIN www.LinkedIn.com/in/MerileeKern.
***Some or all of the accommodations(s), experience(s), item(s) and/or service(s) detailed above may have been provided or arranged at no cost to accommodate if this is review editorial, but all opinions expressed are entirely those of Merilee Kern and have not been influenced in any way.***