Above: In this Thursday, Jan. 20, 2011 photo a Delta Airlines jet takes off at Boston's Logan International Airport (Associated Press)
Patriots fans flying to Minneapolis for the Super Bowl this week may encounter some of their fellow passengers on local menus this weekend.
Cargo holds on extra flights from Boston will be packed with seafood headed to Minnesota for the big game. The state's largest seafood distributor, St. Louis Park-based Fish Guys, said orders are up by 30 to 40 percent headed into the weekend as hotels, restaurants and other venues shore up final menus and headcounts.
“Underneath the feet of the fans will be thousands and thousands of oysters, scallops [and] lobsters," said Fish Guys President Mike Higgins. Seafood flying out of Boston might be coming from Maine, Rhode Island or other nearby fishing hotspots.
Super Bowl weekend is the ultimate test of the sophisticated logistics operation that delivers fish and other seafood from ports across the world to diners' plates in landlocked Minnesota.
Higgins said that as of Tuesday night, they were awaiting 400 pounds of Mahi Mahi from Ecuador, 250 pounds of grouper from Mexico, 200 pounds of monkfish from Boston, and a "tremendous amount" of sushi-grade tuna from Hawaii. That represents just a day's worth of needs for those products, Higgins said.
In addition, 18 cases of lobsters landed in Minnesota this morning from Boston. That's not to mention the two swordfish from New Zealand, which are in Los Angeles awaiting the last leg of their journey to Minnesota.
And the orders will keep coming in the run up to Sunday.
“I’m in the business of moving the most perishable protein in existence," Higgins said. "The fish that I’m going to be serving up on Saturday, some of [them] could probably still be swimming wild in the ocean right now. Think about that.”
Above: Workers process fish at The Fish Guys facility in St. Louis Park (courtesy of The Fish Guys)
A lot of the fish, including the swordfish, will be sliced up at the Fish Guys warehouse before heading to local kitchens.
Chefs can place an order on Saturday and pick it up on Sunday morning. "My guess is that we’ll see a line of chefs outside our door Sunday morning, potentially," Higgins said.
Delta, United and Southwest airlines have all added extra flights between Boston and Minneapolis. Higgins said that is helpful, since luggage takes priority in the cargo hold of commercial flights.
"The fact that they’re adding flights would make it so our fish has a better chance of getting on the flight and not getting bumped because of an overabundance of baggage," Higgins said.
Another large Twin Cities distributor, Fortune Fish and Gourmet, is seeing a similar spike in orders, said president Jon Novak. Fortune is the wholesale operation behind the Coastal Seafoods retail brand.
“We got Parrotfish out of Panama yesterday. We have Bronzini from Greece. We have Meagre from Greece," Novak said.
And of course there is plenty coming from the Boston area as well.
“I can’t tell you though if those lobsters are Patriots fans or Philadelphia fans," Novak said. "I think the ruling’s still out on that.”