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Ricky Moore: Blue fish, mackerel, and a longtime love of coastal cooking

There’s a lot more to North Carolina seafood than flounder and fried shrimp. Just ask Ricky Moore of Durham’s Saltbox Seafood Joint.

Moore, recently named a 2022 James Beard Awards finalist for best chef in the Southeast, was introduced to N.C. seafood at family fish fries as a child. He perfected his cooking skills during a stint in the army before opening Saltbox.

“I like fish with flavor, which means fish that has more oil in it,” Moore says. “‘Fishy’ is the incorrect term. ‘Fishy’ fish is usually bad…the quality is bad. In something rich and oily, like mackerel or mullet, or blue fish, even the flesh is dark. But they’re wonderful to eat.”

Our reporter Vanessa Real Williams sat down with Moore for a conversation about his journey as a chef and his abiding love of fresh, seasonal seafood.