If you’re in a hurry, be careful when asking Bill Dugan, aka Chicago’s Fish Guy, owner of The Fish Guy Market and Superior Ocean Produce restaurant wholesale here in Chicago, a question. The veteran seafood forager has so many tales that he can talk both your ears off.
In the last 20 years or so, he exploded the market for diver scallops and peekytoe crab with Charlie Trotter here in Chicago. Prior to that he got his start airlifting tuna from the East Coast and driving it up down the coast of California in a beat-up van for chefs to sample. His big break came when Rene Verdon, the Kennedy’s former White House chef, placed a huge order for his now defunct restaurant Le Trianon in San Francisco.
If I want to know what’s going on in the water, or in the Chicago food world, he’s one of the guys I call. In the last couple of years he’s developed a market for excellent early season hydroponic Michigan heirloom tomatoes from McWethy farms and opened up a good underground seafood restaurant in his market storefront on weekend nights called Wellfleet. You might even call him the “meat guy,” as he has one of the best local supplies of high-end Kobe beef in the city.
Now Dugan has a new venture and title: The Coffee Guy.
Dugan’s former wife, Stephanie Andersen-Samayoa, inherited an abandoned family coffee plantation, Finca de Angeles in Tecepan, El Salvador and has spent the last year or so trying to resurrect the business (she writes a great blog called The Plantation Diaries about the experience). Dugan started importing the coffee to Chicago a few months ago, and you can buy it at the Fish Guy Market or onlline.
While it’s not certified as Fair Trade, Dugan's paying much more per pound than Fair Trade markets would likely set. The coffee comes in medium or darker French Roast varieties, and it's comparable in taste to the stuff I’ve been buying from Intelligentsia and it’s a bit cheaper. It has a lot of body, slight hazelnut notes, and a lot of chocolate, and is definitely worth checking out if you're looking to up your coffee quality.