Blue Mermaid Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf

Meet the Chef

Executive chef Erick Sison at Blue Mermaid Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf

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

Chef Erik in the Blue Mermaid kitchen.

Erick Sison, Executive Chef

Executive Chef Erick Sison guides all of the culinary activity for both the restaurant and the hotel, bringing novel and creative dishes into the Fisherman’s Wharf food scene, utilizing California’s seasonal, select, and sustainable ingredients.

Growing up in the Philippines, Sison earned a Bachelor’s of Science in Hotel & Restaurant Management with a Major in Culinary Arts from De La Salle-College of Saint Benilde in Manila. Upon completing a culinary training program with Mandarin Oriental, he built his professional career in the United States, where he held numerous key positions including managing multiple kitchen operations in prestigious hotels and resorts such as the Wynn Las Vegas, Sheraton Grand Phoenix, and the Phoenician in Scottsdale, Arizona. Sison moved back to Asia in 2012 and traveled the continent for several years, gaining exposure to its culture and cuisine – including the Hyatt City of Dreams in Manila as Chef de Cuisine during the pre-opening phase of the property and, later, Executive Sous Chef. In 2017 Sison returned to the United States to take over the role of Chef de Cuisine at the famed Tonga Room in the Fairmont San Francisco before joining the Argonaut Hotel in 2019 to lead its culinary team.

Vintage nautical memorabilia at Fisherman's Wharf Argonaut Hotel in San Francisco

Questions & Anwers

Q: How would you describe your culinary style?
A: I love to work with ingredients that each season brings. Simplicity is the key in elevating every dish, allowing the main component to be the star of the dish. Flavors need not be complicated and should retain their purity.

Q: Who is your culinary mentor?
A: It has been a true privilege to work with remarkable leaders throughout the industry and across two continents. Each one of them has made a great impact on my culinary journey. In every place that I have visited, I learned different aspects of the kitchen operation – from banquets to restaurant to commissary operations. Every experience helped mold me into the Chef that I am today.

Q: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
A: It is my principle as a Chef to consider each ingredient as something unique. Every single one has a purpose in a certain dish. The important thing is to know how to use each ingredient in the best manner and to combine them to create a balance of flavors in each dish.

Q: Who would you most like to cook for?
A: As a Chef, we can cook a lot of nice dishes for our guests and patrons, but rarely do we cook for our families. Cooking for them will always be special.

Q: What is your favorite cookbook?
A: There is an abundance of cookbooks presenting a wide range of cuisines, providing guidance and inspiration. My recommendation for professional and aspiring Chefs would be Becoming a Chef by Andrew Dornenburg.

Blue Mermaid Restaurant signature chowder bread bowl on Fisherman's Wharf

Recipe

Chef Erick'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.