Almost three decades ago, Ed Wechsler opened La Mer Seafood on Main Street in Armonk. At the time he was 22-years-old, already armed with a wealth of experience from working in top epicurean stores in surrounding towns. Back then, he focused mostly on fish but as lifestyles changed and consumer demand for organic foods skyrocketed, La Mer Seafood evolved and today it offers full service catering and mostly wild caught organic, locally-sourced fish.
Being in business for so long, Wechsler knows his customers and his fish. While Inside Armonk was in the Cape Cod nautically-inspired store, a customer walked in for lunch and asked for “the usual.” A few minutes later, he walked out with a homemade soup and lobster roll featuring fresh Maine lobster caught daily.
The store focuses on offering healthful and wholesomely prepared dishes. Wechsler believes fish works best with herbs and he avoids using butter, salt, flour and wheat. He can offer suggestions on how to prepare the fish and if you are a reluctant chef, his team can provide a homemade rub, marinade or dipping sauce to ensure a succulent dinner. “As in any five star establishment, our recipes are our own. We’ve been perfecting them for almost 30 years!”
With summer approaching, Wechsler and his team are at the ready preparing clambakes, lobster bakes and elegant hors d’ouvres, buffets and barbeques for pool parties, graduation celebrations and even weddings. Wechsler prides himself on choosing only the most friendly and courteous staff for set up, serving and preparing the food and clean up. In the past few years, La Mer Seafood has expanded its catering services and he now is busy year round with holiday parties and corporate catering events.
“We do a lot of cocktail parties, office parties communions and Bar Mitzvahs mostly in people’s homes. We supply the staff, the rentals, bartenders and everything is prepared from scratch and as healthful as possible.” La Mer Seafood also has partnerships with area caterers by providing seafood for En Vious Events and Culinary Angels, among other endeavors.
In addition to lunch and dinner specials, the “take and bake” option is also very popular with customers these days who are short on time. The staff will season the fish for you, place it in a small tin and then all the customer has to do is bake it in the oven. Wechsler is all about making the customer’s life easy and provides one-stop shopping with breads and other produce available at the store to round out a complete dinner.
It’s no coincidence that Wechsler is known as a “fishmonger extraordinaire.” He has intimate knowledge of every fish that is sold in his store. The fish is bought at the Fulton Fish Market (now located at Hunts Point in the Bronx) and his buyers get there early to get the very best selection. He is also a veritable wealth of nutrition information on virtually every fish in his store.
Wechsler prides himself on knowing where it was caught and how it was caught (wild versus farmed). He knows about fish farming techniques, mercury counts and use of pesticides in farmed products. Fish that is farmed outside of the US, Canada or Central America has different safety regulations and is often laden with pesticides and antibiotics. That’s why Wechsler prefers wild caught, and if he is going to purchase farmed fish, he prefers to buy organic.
Besides knowing his fish backwards and forwards, he knows his customers very well too. Being a mainstay of downtown Armonk for almost 30 years, he has a good rapport with many of his customers. “It’s not uncommon for someone to walk in and say I’ll have the same thing I had last week or my son wants to try something new what would you suggest and I already know her son doesn’t like salmon so I can come up with suggestions. I’m like the local bartender.”