Live, fresh crustaceans now available in the high country
Don’t worry. Mammoth’s elevation hasn’t dropped to sea level. Rather, entrepreneur John Hill has come to town with a new addition to Mammoth’s dining options: fresh crab.
With a chainsaw carving business in Tahoe and a snowplow business in Alaska, Hill was looking for a winter business opportunity in California to add to his arsenal. He enjoys skiing in Mammoth and decided to set up shop in town. He has friends in the crab business that helped navigate him in the right direction.
Opening on Dec. 3, Hill’s crab shack stocks live, fresh Dungeness crab every few days.
“I drive them over from San Francisco fresh off the docks,” Hill explained.
Hill attaches a trailer to the back of his truck and loads up large bins where the crab are placed in cold water, which keep the crabs sedate.
“If you put them in warm water they’d get pissed off and fight,” Hill explained. “You would wind up with a lot of crabs either dead or with missing limbs.”
Once they arrive in Mammoth, batches of the crab are cooked daily for sale. Hill and his crew use a cooker that emits 400,040 BTUs. Sea salt is added to the water and the crabs are boiled for 12 minutes.
A taste test of crab straight out of the cooker proved they are quite fresh and very tasty.
“Some crab in stores can be a year old,” Hill explained of the difference.
Hill said he has already received some interest from local restaurants that may want him to supply them with crab. On an individual basis, the crab is cooked and sold whole for customers to take home and enjoy. You also have the option to take the crab home live and do the cooking yourself. Just bring your cooler with you to the shack.
During his most recent trip to the Bay Area, he brought back 1,000 pounds of crab, but realized that was a bit too much, especially with things being slow around town. Lucky for Mammoth, this means he is having a sale until the 1,000 pounds are gone – buy four crabs, get the fifth free. Cost is $7.99 per pound.
If things go well, Hill would like to build a holding tank onsite for the crab. This way he would have a means of storage during heavy winter storms when travel to and from San Francisco could get tricky.
Hill also plans to have Maine lobster available at least during the holiday season.
The new crab stop is located on Main Street. The carvings out front are Hill’s own chainsaw creations. Ask about them when you stop by to grab your very own pincer-laden treat. Call 760.924.2322 for more information.