Rumfish Chef Lands in Ventura
Is it possible to be both firmly rooted locally and heavily influenced by the Caribbean-meets-Creole flavors of Belize? Executive Chef Paul Osborne of newly opened seafood-celebrating downtown Ventura gastrobar Rumfish Y Vino seems to have cracked that puzzler of a concept like a coconut.
Thanks to owners John and Pam Solomon’s vision, and a month-long stay with Chef Samuel Galdamez of their sister Belize restaurant, Osborne took the flavors of Belize and wove them into his own menu.
Born and raised in Isla Vista, Osborne is returning to the coast of California after four years in Portland, Oregon, at a sustainable sushi restaurant. The move seemed natural for Osborne, whose longtime girlfriend grew up in Ventura.
“I really wanted to land in seafood, but didn’t want to make a career of sushi,” Osborne says. “[At Rumfish] now there’s a whole new palette of flavors, from the Yucatán Peninsula, Caribbean and Belize, seeing the seafood they use down there has been very inspiring.”
Along with conch fritters and ceviche, one of the most popular menu items, Osborne says, is the Creole-style sea bass, which is a dish Galdamez showed him. He adapted their bonein Creole snapper to local white sea bass over coconut rice made with Belizean coconut oil, along with lobster coconut pan sauce and fresh vegetables.
Osborne’s food philosophy focuses on sourcing with a critical eye toward sustainability and being a good steward of the land and sea—an idea he works with the staff to understand and embrace.
The menu’s fish is green- or yellow-rated by the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch sustainable seafood advisory watch. “What is important to me . . . is knowing that the fisheries from which I source my product are well managed,” he says. “My menu choices reflect that.”
He favors using local produce, and will purchase whatever his good friend Abel Basch grows on his organic farm near Gaviota, and incorporate it into his menu. “[Basch’s] passion shines through in the vegetables he grows,” says Osborne.
All the meats at the restaurant are hormone-free and the chicken is pasture-raised, he adds. He uses St. Helens brand beef because of their emphasis on sustainability, animal well-being and socially responsible business practices.
His menu also boasts seasonal flatbreads, which seem like a departure, but they’re also served in Belize. They give Osborne the chance to play with dough. “We adopted the wood oven from the previous owners of this space when we took it over—it was a Chinese restaurant—and we decided to roll with it.” Osborne feeds the oven fallen oak wood from a Ventura County ranch. The wood is used for smoking cochinita pibil (a slow-roasted pork dish) and beef barbacoa, too.
The oven is the only thing that remains of the former tenant, besides the welcoming patio; the rest of the restaurant got a complete, elegant overhaul.
Rumfish Y Vino
34 N. Palm St., Ventura