I started buying fresh fish from Santa Rosa Seafood many years ago when they first set up shop at the Vet’s Building Farmer’s Market in Santa Rosa. I’m guessing it was probably late 90’s. They were new to selling at the market and a little disorganized at first. It was very clear immediately, however, that they were not new to seafood. They not only knew what they were talking about, the quality was exquisite. I remember Mike Svedise, his wife Trudy and his daughter Anna from the very beginning.
At the time, I was living in Sonoma and working at Hayes Street Grill, a restaurant in San Francisco known for its fresh seafood. I was constantly frustrated when I tried to shop for seafood in Sonoma County until the Svedise family came to the market. They had outstanding quality product and a large selection right from the beginning. I remember Mike setting up a table where Anna cut fish to order. She was shy but very poised and confident.
Fast forward and now Santa Rosa Seafood has a restaurant, Santa Rosa Seafood Raw Bar and Grill on Santa Rosa Avenue – in, guess where, Santa Rosa! They also sell at the Calistoga, Windsor and San Rafael Farmers Markets and fish with a fleet of three boats out of Bodega Bay. They import and buy from trusted local sources from the West Coast. Seafood is seasonal and choices vary from week to week.
In addition to an impressive selection of fresh seafood, they make high quality crab and salmon cakes, rich and delicious cioppino, tuna poke and smoked salmon. Mike always described his hot smoked salmon as a cross between smoking and roasting. Before they opened the restaurant, they would often smoke/roast the salmon at the market.
I’m not a big fan of lox or cold smoked salmon in general but I love this hot smoked salmon. Santa Rosa Seafood uses Alaskan King Salmon, rich fatty fish, and the result is a mahogany glazed outside and succulent inside that tastes lightly of smoke but mostly of savory salmon. A squeeze of lemon is really all it needs but it is a miracle ingredient in salads, appetizers and omelettes or just as the star of a buffet.
Mike Svedise grew up in San Francisco where his love of fishing initiated and he skipped school to work on his uncle’s fishing boat. The Old Wharf Smokehouse on Pier 47, where his uncle started smoke roasting salmon was Mike’s training ground. Mike was truly a larger than life character and his untimely passing in June of 2017 left a hollow place in his personal and work family. I know he would be very proud of how his wife, sons, daughter and extended family have carried on the business.
Anna Svedise opened her own shop, Anna’s Seafood, based in Petaluma. She sells at the East Side Petaluma Farmers Market and has a retail store at 1370 Redwood Highway in Petaluma. In addition to her selection of fresh fish, she also sells smoked salmon, tuna poke, cioppino and a variety of house made tuna salads. Anna is quick to attribute her skills to her parents. She is still poised, smart and extremely knowledgeable.
Family businesses are becoming rare. Running a high quality seafood business is as demanding as it gets. Good values, smarts and hard work got passed down to this next generation and we are all lucky to benefit.
Thanks to the Santa Rosa Seafood family and extended family and Anna’s Seafood for your commitment to serving your community the best fish possible!