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Catching Hell

The Insider Story of Seafood from Ocean to Plate

In Catching Hell,  businessman & entrepreneur Allen Ricca and author Joe Muto take readers behind the scenes of the high-end restaurant world and the international market for seafood. This book exposes the fact that the American diner is being lied to on a regular basis. The culprit varies – sometimes it’s a chef or restaurant owner trying to cut corners to save money; other times it’s an unscrupulous supplier looking to pass off poor product to an unwitting receiver. And the cost of that scam eventually gets passed on to you, the consumer. 

This book serves as both an exposé and a call to arms, empowering consumers with the knowledge to make more informed choices when dining out.

Readers will be entertained by Allen's comical approach in delivering a story that exposes an unfortunate reality about our seafood supply chain. 

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"A book that will not disappoint! Catching Hell is both entertaining and informative, a must read for 2022."

—Jamie Bissonnette, James Beard award-winner, Chef & Partner Toro, Coppa, and Little Donkey Boston

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Allen Ricca is the author of the upcoming and highly anticipated Catching Hell: The Insider Story of Seafood from Ocean to Plate, to be released May 2022. The book's words and anecdotes derive from Ricca's direct experiences as owner of Val's Ocean Pacific. Val's is considered by many chefs and restaurateurs to be the gold standard in seafood distribution to America's favorite restaurants and hotels. Val's was founded in 1982 by Val Ricca, Allen's father.

While Allen remains active day-to-day with the management and oversight of Val's, it has not curtailed his interests in other areas of food and beverage. In 2010, he co-founded Winchell Mountain Coffee in Pine Plains, New York. Shortly thereafter, Winchell struck a licensing deal with media mogul and cartoonist, Sandra Boynton, giving Boynton and her timeless characters their own line of coffee. 
In 2018, on behalf of Val's Ocean Pacific, Allen oversaw the acquisition of Village Wine Imports. Village Wine Imports is the exclusive importer and distributor of VRAC Rosé and the VRAC line of wines. VRAC has been featured in the New York Times, on The Tonight Show with Jimmy Fallon, and Saturday Night Live. 

Allen is a 2006 graduate of Marquette University holding a degree in History. He and his wife live on a farm in Connecticut with their two bulldogs.

consult allen

Let Allen help your kitchen, business and staff:

You may be wondering if you or your hospitality business is in need of a consult...the answer is quite simple, let Allen decide!

Before Allen decides to take on a consulting project he needs to make sure you and your business will actually benefit from his services. It cannot be stated enough that Allen will NOT take on every inquiry, only those that stand to truly benefit. 

There are a variety of reasons to have Allen consult, but none more paramount than making sure you are getting the goods and services you pay for from your vendors. Unfortunately, due to high levels of competition and a crowded world of mass produced food, there is too much room for the potential of corruption. Allen will work with you, your staff, and your vendors if need be, to make certain you are getting exactly what you are paying for.

Services Offered:

• Thorough analysis of vendor invoices (making sure you are paying market rates for goods and services)

• Training kitchen staff on best practices of receiving goods from your vendors (this is hard won knowledge that is NOT basic industry knowledge—in many cases this could be the difference between your menu being factual and a lie) 

• Training & educating your wait staff/front of house on how to best  sell and speak about your menu’s seafood options

• Managerial training on best practices and negotiating tactics with your vendors (if you have meat, poultry, seafood, produce or any other commodity on your menu we will teach you market trends and how best to mitigate fluctuating prices)

Looking for other help? Don't hesitate to contact Allen.

In almost all circumstances he can carefully curate a consult to meet your specific needs.

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