Joselu Gonzalez, owner of Champions Seafood Market, said he endeavors to teach his customers about the health benefits of fish.
“I don’t just sell the food,” Gonzalez said. “I want people to know what they’re getting, where it came from, why you’re eating it, how to eat it and where the fish grew. The more informed you are, the more readily you’ll take it. [Seafood is] helping you in certain ways that will make you live longer or enjoy your meals.”
Champions Seafood Market, which is located at the intersection of Stuebner Airline and Louetta roads, sells fresh and precooked seafood products by the pound for cooking or grilling.
What sets his seafood market apart from grocery stores is the reduced role of the middleman and warehouses where the food is stored before shipping, Gonzalez said. The seafood goes directly from the fisherman to the wholesaler to his store. As a result, his products smell like the sea.
“Groceries are not built for seafood,” Gonzalez said. “A lot of times when they get seafood, the process involves [going from] the fisherman, through the processing warehouse, to a distribution warehouse, to a regional warehouse [and] by the time it gets to [grocery stores] it’s got age.”
Although he carries local favorites, such as jumbo shrimp caught in the Gulf of Mexico, crawfish, sushi-grade tuna and salmon, many customers enjoy his novelty seafood products.
“We carry everything from alligator fillets, frog legs, octopus, smelts—they’re like the french fries of the ocean,” he said. “We carry only the biggest size of king crab legs. They’re like baseball bats. [I offer] only the biggest size of snow crab clusters because I have to differentiate myself from the competition.”
A popular item he serves is the Maryland-style crabcakes, which are rolled at the market and contain 80 percent crabmeat, Gonzalez said.
“We make our own crab legs fresh—that’s probably our signature item,” he said. “I used to be a seafood wholesaler in Baltimore, Maryland. Maryland is known for their crab. We make Maryland crabcakes and people say, ‘What does that mean?’ And I say, ‘Well that means that it’s more crab than it is cake.’”
Gonzalez purchased Champions Seafood Market 10 years ago, shifting from seafood wholesale to seafood market ownership. A history major in college, Gonzalez said he likes to quiz his customers about seafood history.
“Seafood, despite its healthy nature and advantages, is the most misunderstood [food],” he said. “People are afraid of seafood because they’re not as familiar with it as they’d like to be. Believe it or not, I meet a lot of people who think seafood is catfish and shrimp, and that’s it.”