Originally from landlocked Indianapolis, Mark Boor’s familiarity with fresh seafood began when he spent four years in the U.S. Coast Guard after high school. Now, 15 years of restaurant management experience later, the executive chef of Trio Bistro still loves working with seafood, which makes up a majority of the restaurant’s sales.

“You can take one type of fish and make it several different flavors depending on texture, preparation method and spice,” Boor explains, and that’s a quality that chicken and beef cannot claim.

When Boor orders fish for Trio, he has the benefit of contacts that he established over several years of working in Florida. In fact, since Boor introduced Florida Gag Grouper to Trio’s summer menu, it’s become the restaurant’s most popular fish.

Boor’s cuisine doesn’t fit neatly into one category. “Latin-inspired comfort food, maybe?” he muses. But “comfort food” doesn’t have to mean “full of calories.” “I want flavors that people are comfortable with or used to. I never want the food to be intimidating,” he says.

Before Trio, Boor was an executive chef at Jeff Ruby’s Culinary Entertainment. He lives in Independence.

Kitchen tool you cannot live without: A Robot Coup commercial food processor. It’s a multipurpose tool, and it can take a lot of abuse.

Signature dish: Florida Grouper “California Style.” The fish is pan-roasted and served with sauté of spinach, artichoke and teardrop tomato, topped with guacamole, goat cheese and onion sprouts. It’s the most popular dish on the menu. I think it appeals to the masses, as the diversity of our clientele indicates. The combination of ingredients excites the palate.

Most underrated ingredient: Coming from Florida, I don’t think saffron is used to its full potential here in the Midwest.

Favorite comfort food at home:
The dish my kids love the most is hand-breaded chicken fingers and homemade French fries. But it’s very time-intensive and painstaking to do it with a small fryer. I spent four or five hours making it for my daughter’s 12th birthday party.

Favorite cooking show: Kitchen Nightmares. They show the good, the bad and the ugly. I like the British version, because they focus more on reworking the menu than on the surrounding drama in the U.S. version. It shows that the simplicity of a menu and its ingredients, not the flair surrounding the restaurant, is the key to success.

If you could go anywhere in the world and cook with any ingredient: I’ve produced the food of Spain at the highest level, and I’d love to eat my way around Spain and really experience the way they’ve been experiencing it for centuries. I’d love to cook and taste angulas (a rare, young eel found in that area).

— Lindsay Kottmann