Catsmo Artisan Smokehouse, was founded in 1995 by Robert Simon. Robert has always been passionate about fishing, he considers it a “hobby” while his family would say it’s more like an obsession. Every year he would take off for three weeks in the summer to fish New York’s Finger Lakes and three weeks in the winter to sport-fish in the Florida Keys, often times returning with as much as 200 pounds of fresh fish. Being far too much fish to eat, most of it was given to a neighbor for smoking. The neighbor bartered his services in exchange for half of the fish he would smoke. That arrangement served both well until the summer of 1995 when Robert returned home from one of his fishing trips loaded with fish to be smoked but this time his neighbor wasn't able to smoke it for him. As a result, Robert was stuck with roughly a hundred pounds of fresh fish on his hands. Undeterred Robert decided he would try smoking the fish himself. He did his research, built a little smoker in his garage, and locked himself away for four days until finally, he brought the fruits of his labor to his family and friends. One friend, Jean-Jacques, chef and owner of L’Auberge des Quattres Saisons loved it and asked Robert to make some for his NYC restaurant. It was then that the idea of a salmon smoking business was born. After a few more batches, Robert decided to join the big leagues to see if his salmon could cut it. He brought some to his friend, Arnaud Briand, who was then the Executive Chef of New York City’s Rainbow Room. Arnaud said it was a great start but a little rough around the edges. Together they worked to fine-tune the recipe and technique. When the finished product was ready Arnaud said he wanted 30 salmon sides as soon as possible and Robert realized he needed to build a bigger smoker. From the early days of smoking salmon in a garage to today Catsmo Artisan Smokehouse continues to grow its business based on the fundamental principles of high-quality fresh fish, an artisan smoking recipe, and close relationships with skilled chefs. From the early days of smoking salmon in a garage to today Catsmo Artisan Smokehouse continues to grow its business based on the fundamental principles of high-quality fresh fish, an artisan smoking recipe, and close relationships with skilled chefs.
To view a short video segment about Catsmo's origins click here.
SOLEX Fine Foods was founded by Markus Draxler. To understand the full extent of the culinary expertise and epicurean passion behind SOLEX fine foods, it helps to take a glimpse into the life of its founder, Markus Draxler. His dedication to providing the highest quality products comes from his rich history in fine foods and hospitality. As the son of a fifth generation innkeeper from Austria, the restaurant and hospitality industries run in Markus's blood. After graduating from the classic four-year hospitality apprenticeship in Austria, he spent close to a decade working in acclaimed restaurants, hotels, and cruise lines. His work took him around the world, from South Africa to Europe, and finally to New York City. It was there, as Maitre d’ Hotel at Restaurant Daniel, under the mentorship of Michelin Chef Daniel Boulud, where Markus refined his passion and appreciation for haute cuisine. After pursuing other business opportunities across the globe, Markus found himself yearning to reconnect with the epicurean world of New York. As luck would have it, Andrew Hamilton of Scottish Wild Harvest presented him with an opportunity to do just that. Since Markus witnessed firsthand the unique, high-end products that Andrew Hamilton supplied to Restaurant Daniel, he agreed to continue this legacy by providing the same fresh, premium quality products and superior service through his own venture.
The name SOLEX fine foods is a combination of the names of Markus’s daughters Sophia and Alexia.