Two casino giants commit to Mississippi catfish

By Don Culpepper - bio | email

BILOXI, MS (WLOX) - Wednesday, the world's two largest casino companies, MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment, signed a multimillion-dollar deal to begin serving domestic, farm raised catfish at their Mississippi casinos.

Since reopening after Hurricane Katrina, Mississippi catfish has been the only catfish on Beau Rivage's menu.

"Right now, our catfish comes from Simmons Catfish in Yazoo City, Mississippi," Beau Rivage Executive Chef Joe Friel said. "We have our own breading profile, and they use our custom breading. We have a superior product and we're very happy with it."

Friel says in every way, Mississippi catfish is superior to the cheaper Asian imports that have put many domestic producers out of business in recent years.

"Taste them side by side. That's what we do. We do blind tastings. We don't know which catfish is which and that's how we got our product that we have today. It's a sweeter catfish and it's a crispier catfish. It's good all around."

Friel says they serve about 150,000 pounds of catfish a year in Beau Rivage restaurants, in nearly every form you can imagine.

"We fry it, bake it, broil it, we steam it."

Friel says MGM Mirage and Harrah's Entertainment's multi-million dollar commitment to purchase Mississippi catfish should provide a tremendous boost to the ailing industry. And he guarantees their casino customers won't be disappointed.

"We're using the best product that's available on the market, and we're very proud to serve it."

The casino catfish deal comes nearly a month after the government announced it would buy up to $5 million worth of domestic catfish for school lunches and other programs.