To Die For

T5760x3840-00134-EditBistro V’s cioppino has been perfected. 

By Jan Walsh

Photography by Beau Gustafson

Bistro V’s executive chef, Jeremy Downey, finds cioppino to be the “world’s best dish.” And after tasting his, I cannot argue. He and I share a love of tomatoes, seafood, spicy heat, and wine—all of which are important components in this dish. A native of Bayou La Batre, Alabama, Downey has been cooking and perfecting his cioppino for 20 years. “Cioppino is an expression of me. And today’s is the best one I have ever made,” he says.

Cioppino is a fish stew that originated in California. Italian immigrants who settled in the North Beach neighborhood of San Francisco in the late 1800s developed cioppino on the boats at sea. Afterward, it became a classic in San Francisco’s Italian restaurants. The name, cioppino, is derived from ciuppin, a classic soup from Liguria made with less tomato and Mediterranean seafood. Downey’s cioppino is also similar to a gumbo in body. And it is bursting with Gulf Coast seafood. Downey loves it so much that he wants it to be the last dish he ever cooks and eats in his life.


1 8-ounce snapper, cut into pieces

1 garlic clove, smashed

10 Royal Red Gulf shrimp

1 cup lump crabmeat

12 mussels

½ bulb fennel, chopped

½ cup red wine

1 splash lemon juice

1 teaspoon fresh oregano

½ baguette, grilled

1 can San Marzano tomatoes

1 sprinkle chili flakes


Sauté garlic and fennel in olive oil over medium-high heat for one minute. Add snapper, shrimp, and mussels. Continue to cook for two minutes. Add red wine, lemon juice, and tomatoes. Cook for four minutes. Finish with herbs, chili flakes, and crab. Spoon into bowls with mussels at the base of the bowls and grilled bread on top. Serves four.

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