In December of 2012, I was lucky enough to go on a tour of Paul Piazza’s shrimp operation in Louisiana. It was a trip that opened my eyes to the wonders of Gulf shrimp.
Most of what I knew about shrimping in the Gulf, I learned from Forrest Gump. I was about to get a real education on the workings of a real shrimp boat. We had the opportunity to go out on a shrimping vessel and experience a small sample of a day’s work on a shrimp boat. It’s hard enough to just find and catch shrimp, but the work has only just begun after the catch.
The nets full of shrimp are dumped on the deck and the deckhands squat a position much like a baseball catcher for hours, picking and sorting the shrimp into sizes. They are quickly flash frozen right on the boat to preserve freshness and quality.
When the boat is full, the shrimp are taken to the docks where they are quickly transported to the nearby Paul Piazza processing plants. There they are sized, sorted and packed. They have numerous quality check points throughout the automated process to make sure only the best shrimp make it to Hy-Vee.
I used to think that shrimp for the most part were all the same. I was wrong. I mean really wrong. The Paul Piazza plant owner himself cooked fresh Gulf shrimp for us. I was blown away. The flavor and texture of Gulf shrimp was like nothing I had ever had. The flavor was sweet and delicious. I was hooked.
From that day on, I told my customers that the Gulf shrimp at Hy-Vee was the best shrimp you could ever eat. Paul Piazza knows our standards are the highest in the industry and sends us only the best quality shrimp. We also carry all-natural Gulf shrimp in our service seafood cases – it has no additives or preservatives. Shrimp can spoil very quickly, so most shrimp boats treat their shrimp right away with preservatives. It is actually very rare in the shrimping industry to refrain from adding preservatives to shrimp, because it requires a higher level of care when handling the shrimp.
Paul Piazza has several dedicated shrimp captains who catch shrimp to our expectations without using chemicals. Why do we go the extra mile to require our shrimp not be treated? For one, the shrimp taste better without the preservatives. Also, some customers can be allergic to the preservatives used on shrimp. So when you choose Gulf shrimp out of the Hy-Vee seafood case, you can be sure it’s pure, natural Gulf shrimp!