Blue Mermaid Restaurant on Fisherman's Wharf

Meet the Chef

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

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

Chef Gary Jones.

Gary Jones, Executive Chef

Executive Chef Gary Jones guides all of the culinary activity for both the restaurant and the hotel, where his goal is to elevate and differentiate the cuisine from the surrounding Fisherman’s Wharf. Growing up in Northern California, Jones worked and thrived in the restaurant industry since a young age and has held numerous management positions after obtaining a sous chef role at 18. Before joining Argonaut Hotel, Jones served as west coast regional chef for Special Restaurants Corporation in Los Angeles, where he oversaw all aspects of kitchen operations for multiple venues. Jones was previously the executive chef at Castaways in Burbank, California for five years, and gained experience cooking international cuisine as an executive chef at Chez Papa Bistrot for two years. Prior to moving to the Bay Area, Jones was the executive chef and owner of Blue Flame in Chico, California for three years and served as executive sous chef at Delmonico Steakhouse in Las Vegas.

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

Questions & Anwers

Q: How would you describe your culinary style?
A: I am a third generation chef – both my father and grandfather were chefs – so there is this old school soul with a new look on things approach I think defines my culinary style.

Q: Who is your culinary mentor?
A: My father! I was washing dishes and getting paid in maraschino cherries since I was a little kid in the restaurant where my grandfather was the owner and my father was the chef de cuisine. When I was six years old, I always asked my dad to make me biscuits and gravy. He decided I should learn how to make them from scratch – as a six year old! I learned so much from him.

Q: What is your favorite ingredient to cook with?
A: My favorite ingredient to cook with is each diner’s favorite ingredient. I love creating dishes that make people happy. One of my favorite dishes to make, though, is Steak Rossini.

Q: Who would you most like to cook for?
A: Thomas Keller! Why? Because he’s Thomas Keller!

Q: What is your favorite cookbook?
A: I don’t tend to use cookbooks. I prefer to teach myself and experiment. I even write my own recipes in a leather-bound book every year, which is what I use for inspiration.

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

Recipe

Chef Gary'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.