Tenney Flynn and his business partner Gary Wollerman opened GW Fins (808 Bienville St., 504-581-3467; www.gwfins.com) in 2001. Both men previously held corporate positions at Ruth's Chris Steak House, where Flynn was director of culinary operations for the international chain. The chef is often tapped to showcase Louisiana seafood out of state, and last month the U.S. Navy invited him to prepare a special dinner for 300 crewmembers aboard the U.S.S. Louisiana, a ballistic missile submarine based near Seattle.
The GW Fins menu changes a lot from night to night. Does this make it hard to plan and provision?
Flynn: That's the beauty of printing up your menu daily. I don't have to have anything specifically. We have about 60 to 70 sauce and garnish preparations, recipes that we can rotate through depending on what we get in that we know we can use with different types of fish. At first, we thought we'd be doing more imports and exotics, but usually about 70 percent of the finfish we're using is coming out of the Gulf now. There are just a lot of different fish in the Gulf, and because we're so close, we get things they just don't see in other cities.
Do seasonal variations direct the menu or is it other factors?
F: Some things are seasonal, like soft-shell crabs in the warmer months and oysters are better when it gets cooler. For finfish, it has a lot to do with the fishing conditions out there. The weather can influence what we're getting. For instance, I know if there's a cold front coming through that will kick up a lot more flounder and you'll start seeing that on more menus.
Your lobster po-boy has become something of a sensation at the Oak Street Po-Boy Festival each year. Have you thought of making it more often?
F: Last year we had a three-block-long line for most of the day (at the festival), and we were making, I think, seven po-boys a minute for a lot of hours. Fried lobster is kind of sexy anyway, and when you take that knuckle meat and bread it and toss it in butter, that's really good. But that's a very seasonal product. We'd do it more if we could, but I can only get that product fresh a few months of the year, and frozen it's just not any good. — IAN MCNULTY