Meet the Chef

Blue Mermaid Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf, a dining experience in San Francisco

Meet the San Francisco waterfront restaurant chef Nathaniel Mitzner who makes dining at Blue Mermaid such a pleasure. And then learn how to make his signature Crab and Corn Chowder.

Nathaniel Mitzner, Executive Chef

Executive Chef Nathaniel Mitzner guides all of the culinary activity for both the restaurant and the hotel. Immediately prior to jumping aboard the Argonaut, Chef Nate had been at the helm of Menlo Grill Bistro & Bar. His previous experience also includes helping direct the kitchens at the Mandarin Oriental Hotel in San Francisco. During his more formative years, he held the Executive Sous Chef Position at Marinus Restaurant, located at The Bernardus Lodge and Spa. Under the steady tutelage of Chef Cal Stamenov, Nate honed his craft and during his tenure Marinus has been voted by Zagat as “One of the Top Bay Area Restaurants”. Nate’s resume includes studying under renowned chef Alain Ducasse at Mix in Las Vegas as well as Alex Restaurant in the Wynn Hotel under Chef Alessandro Stratta.

In describing his culinary style, Chef Nate said, “My goal is to showcase the robust natural flavors of peak season ingredients, much like a sommelier selects wine to pair with a meal, I pair ingredients so as to accentuate the flavor of each ingredient in each preparation. I create refined yet approachable and unpretentious dishes by letting the ingredients speak for themselves.”

Questions & Anwers

Q: Who is your culinary mentor?
A: Cal Stamenov, Having worked for Cal for many years he really was the driving force behind my culinary career thus far. He taught me to respect the ingredients and that great food begins with great ingredients.

Q: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
A: My favorite ingredient changes with the seasons. I love using ingredients at their peak and that entails cooking with the seasons.

Q: Who would you most like to cook for?
A: I don’t have a specific individual, but I love cooking for other Chefs. The fact that we share a passion for food and the ingredients we use is always a great experience.

Q: What is your favorite cookbook?
A: Cooking with the Seasons by Jean Louis Palladin.

Recipe

Chef Nathaniel's Favorite Recipe:
Award Winning California Dungeness Crab and Corn Chowder

Awarded Three Times By The Schweppes Great Chowder Cook Off in the Creative Category
(Makes about 12 cups for a first course or 6-8 for a main course)

Ingredients

  • 4 ounces Applewood Smoked Bacon
  • 4 tablespoons of unsalted butter
  • 1 cup corn
  • 2 yellow onions, diced
  • 1 Pasilla Chili, diced
  • 1 Jalapeño Pepper, split in half, seeds
  • 2 celery stalks
  • 2 cloves of garlic, finely chopped
  • tsp. Old Bay Seasoning
  • ½ tsp. Chipotle powder
  • 4 sprigs thyme, stem removed, leaves
  • chopped
  • 1 fresh bay leaf
  • 1 Quart Crab Stock
  • 2 lbs. Kennebec potatoes, ½" diced
  • 1 ½ cups heavy cream
  • 2 oz. cream cheese
  • ½ teaspoon fresh ground white pepper
  • Kosher salt to taste
  • 1 lb. fresh Dungeness crab meat
  • 1 bunch cilantro, diced and chopped
  • ½ cup olive oil

Method:

Chowder
  • Over low heat, add smoked bacon to a 4 to 6 quart heavy pot. Slowly render the fat and then increase the heat to medium to make the bacon crisp. Remove the bacon from the pan and set aside. Leave about half the bacon fat in the pan.
  • Add the butter, and saute the corn. After 4-6 minutes, remove the corn from the pan. Add the onions, saute until translucent. Be careful not to brown, about 4-6 minutes. Add pasilla and sautean additional 4-minutes, remove from the pan. Add celery, saute 2-3 minutes. Then add garlic and continue to saute for an additional 2-3 minutes.
  • Add the onion, corn, pasilla and bacon to the celery. Add Old Bay, Chipotle powder, split Jalapeno pepper, thyme and bay leaf. Just barely cover the vegetables with crab stock and then add the diced Kennebec potatoes. Increase the heat to high and boil the potatoes vigorously for about 4 minutes. The goal is to soften the outside of the potato to help thicken the chowder, while keeping the potato al dente.
  • Add the heavy cream and cream cheese. Stir for two minutes and then remove from the heat. If you need to thicken the chowder a little more smash a few of the potatoes against the side of the pot.
  • Adjust the seasoning with salt and fresh white pepper. Remove the Jalapeno pepper before serving.

Cilantro Pesto
  • 1 bunch cilantro, washed, dried and chopped
  • Approximately ½ cup of olive oil-puree in a blender

To Serve
  • Place Chowder in a bowl, add 1 â 2 oz. of crab meat and garnish with cilantro pesto.