Sarasota, Fla. (WWSB) – A Sarasota fisherman is nearing the end of an era.
For 43 years, George Nodaros has championed old-school cooking, smoking up countless Saturday mornings for eager customers. His technique is old-fashioned, which is rarely seen around modern Sarasota.
The fisherman smokes the freshly caught mules on Saturday mornings using a large smoker he bought 30 years ago. The recipe is simple consisting of salt, pepper, paprika and patience.
It’s hard work, but for Nodaros, it’s rewarding enough to keep coming back year after year.
“It’s something I enjoy. “It’s like any other job. You won’t get anything for nothing, but I’ll be happy.
For decades, the desire has paid off. Every Saturday between July and December, he starts selling the fish outside the house where he prepares it, and on Saturdays loyal customers come back to buy every piece.
Some have been swinging by for lunch for decades. John Isola, a fisherman himself, says the fish his friend cooks are reminiscent of the past.
“Best smoked mule in town if you want a filling,” Isola said. “It’s old school.”
If there are few, Nodaros said, fishermen will smoke fillets the way they do now. In ancient times this was common, but over the years the craft has faded.
“They don’t take the time and energy to do it right in the process,” he said.
It’s a lot of work. Mullet, Nodaros explained, should be smoked for at least four hours until the fish is tender and juicy without being overcooked.
He spent countless hours standing in front of the giant container, feeling a wave of smoke blow into his eyes as he cracked open the lid. However, that hard work pays off every time customers line up to grab a bite.
“Forty-three years don’t stop,” Nodaros said. “They come every week from July to December.”
When our staff spoke to Nodaros, they looked directly at the car as it pulled up, with each driver holding cash and a smile on their face.
However, fans of cooking are in favor of change. Not long after, Nodaros said he was going to hang up the smoker for the last time, saying he was getting older, which would make it harder to keep going much longer.
He expects this year or next to be his last season.
He says all good things must come to an end, but after spending so much of his life on the job, it won’t be easy to walk away.
“It makes me angry because I feel like I’m letting my customers down, and I never want to do that. They are all just good people. I love them to death.
Still, there’s hope for mullet lovers in Sarasota. Nodaros said he’s been talking to some of his younger family members who might take up the mantle and take over the tried-and-true business by learning how to cook fish, as always.
He wants to hand over the spatula, but has a word of advice for anyone looking to continue his legacy.
“You’re not going to get rich at this,” he said. “It’s just about making others happy. It’s something I enjoy. no more.”
Nodaros serves smoked mule every Saturday morning between July and December. The fish is prepared in front of the house at 3020 40th Street in Sarasota.
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