Colorado Entrepreneur Creates Signature Seafood Dishes For Tri-State Operators

You wouldn’t think a company in Colorado would know a lot about fish, but this centrally-located business in the U.S. trucks in creatures from the sea from British Columbia and Nova Scotia and just about anywhere in the world fish swim in the ocean. And if its delicious, fresh fish you’re looking for, no matter where you are, Honey Smoked Fish in Aurora is the place to go.

“You don’t need to be at a seaport anymore. It’s not like you’re catching the fish right out of the port,” said Kevin Mason of Honey Smoked Fish. “Everyone else goes to Seattle or Florida or Nova Scotia. Why go where everybody else goes?”

Mason noted that fish have been pretty much part of his life from day one.  “I come from a fresh fish family business.  For 38 years we had a Kosher fish market,” Mason explained.  “And I’ve been deep-sea fishing since I was five!”

Kevin Mason of Honey Smoked Fish preparing fresh samples at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC.
Kevin Mason of Honey Smoked Fish preparing fresh samples at the Summer Fancy Food Show in NYC.

When his father lost his lease, he opened up a new location and asked his son to become partners with him.  The rest is history, according to Mason.

Mason loved working with his dad but he felt his procedures needed modernizing. “It was the old style of shopping. People don’t go to a bakery anymore, to a produce market, to a butcher, to a fish market. People want to go to one store, one shop. People want the convenience of going in-and-out shopping, because they’re more active with their work and their social lives,” he pointed out. “They don’t have time to go spend a whole day shopping, like they did in the 1930s.”

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He acknowledged that the world of smoking fish was new to him.  “I never worked in a smokehouse before.  I just knew that I had all the fish in the world to play with,” Mason said. “And I bought this little smoker, at a seafood show, and I started playing with it for over five years.  I spent probably 2,000 times trying to get this recipe perfect.”

What Mason realized, though, as he started up, was that his vision was more than just smoking salmon. “I’m making a protein superfood that’s ready to eat, that could be added to any dish. We’re the protein of the future,” Mason added.

Watching how Honey Baked Ham made its mark, Mason decided he wanted to make his own mark on what he called “superfood salmon,” so he named it Honey Smoked Salmon.

“There’s no honey on the fish, it’s in the smoke. We have a secret firing system. When the honey drips into and hits the fire, it causes a combustion, an explosion from the sugars from the honey. And it puts an explosion in the smoker and a seal on the salmon,” Mason explained.  “When you cook the fish for another four or five more hours, all those Omega-3’s are locked in.  You’re also cooking all the water out of the salmon so now it’s twice the concentration of Omega-3’s than found in grilled salmon. Chefs can get a signature flavor out of this.”

The difference between Honey Smoked salmon and other kinds of salmon is that the business only uses a pound and a half of real center core wood to 100 pounds of fish.

“So only a very little bit of wood is in there. And it’s just for flavoring, a slight hint of smoke. It’s the same profile as bacon, which is the number one food desired by men in the U.S.,” Mason maintained.

Most cooks who cook or barbecue salmon let all the natural juice drip out of it. Mason noted, “I learned to seal the salmon so all those Omega-3’s are locked in.  Omega-3’s have many health benefits, such as protecting the heart, anti-inflammatory benefits, improves skin tone, improves brain function and has been linked to potential cancer prevention.”

What about the cost?  “We’re not just the center of the plate, we’re at every avenue. I’ve been selling to the restaurant division for over 15 years to Sysco Foods and US Foods. And because you only need one to three ounces for any dish because it’s highly concentrated, it’s a low protein cost at under a dollar an ounce.”

“We produce real food for real sustainable energy,” Mason concluded.  “It’s the protein of the future.”