He’s Spicin’ Things Up

Entrepreneur and Chef Jake Fitzsimmons is making a name for himself with his popular Tomahawk Jim's seasoning brand

Photography by Marci Ryan

Jake Fitzsimmons is a man on a mission. Driven to be the very best at whatever he does, the 25-year-old Pasadena, MD native moved to the Shore seven years ago to attend Salisbury University. Simultaneously, he has worked as a kitchen manager at Hooper’s Crab House in West Ocean City. After graduating in just three years, he founded the Tomahawk Jim’s Seasoning brand, which today, is one of the fastest growing seasoning companies on the East Coast. Jake’s creations are available in about 150 locations, including every Food Lion in Maryland and Delaware, the Grocery Outlet and numerous other independent grocers and small businesses.

In what follows, Jake shares some of his signature recipes, which are perfect for summer, and include his various spices and blends.

Caramelized Salmon


8 oz fresh salmon
2 Tbsp Tomahawk Jim’s Brown Sugar Rub
1 Tbsp butter
1 Tbsp olive oil

Add olive oil to a skillet on medium heat. Pat salmon into brown sugar rub, completely covering all sides. Place salmon into hot skillet, letting the face down side sear for about 30-60 seconds. Keep in mind that the brown sugar rub will burn if over 350°, so it is important to flip it when it gets to the sweet spot of caramelization.

After flipping, sear the other side the same way, then transfer the fish to a baking sheet. Place the butter chip on top of the salmon to cook into the meat. Place in the oven at 350°. Cook until the meat begins to flake at the touch. Best served with grilled asparagus, roasted Brussels sprouts or over a salad.

Smoked Ribs

WITH TOMAHAWK JIM’S Cracked Pepper Sweet ‘n’ Heat

1 rack of baby back ribs
Yellow mustard
Apple juice
Apple cider vinegar
Tomahawk Jim’s Cracked Pepper Sweet ‘n’ Heat
Cherry Coke

Instructions for Oven
Lather every side of ribs with yellow mustard as the binding agent for the seasoning. Generously sprinkle Cracked Pepper Sweet ‘n’ Heat on all sides of the ribs, covering them entirely. Place ribs on the rack of the smoker at 250°, uncovered.

After a half hour, begin spraying Cherry Coke from a spray bottle onto the ribs, repeating every half hour. Repeat this action until the ribs have cooked for 3 hours.

After 3 hours, remove the ribs from the smoker and put them into a deep dish or foil tray. Add the vinegar, apple juice, and remaining Cherry Coke into the dish at a 1:1:1 ratio, so that the ribs are not submerged, but so that the bottom of the tray is completely covered. Place back on the smoker or in the oven at 250° for about another hour.

After this, remove the ribs from the pan and lather each side with a BBQ sauce of your choice and place back on the smoker or oven for an additional 30 minutes to allow the sauce to cook into the meat.  Now enjoy your fall-off-the-bone ribs!

Maryland Crab Cakes


1 large egg
1 Tbsp fresh parsley, chopped
1 1/2 tsp Tomahawk Jim’s Chesapeake Bay Spice
1 tsp fresh lemon juice, plus more for serving
1 lb fresh Maryland jumbo lump crab meat
2/3 cup panko bread crumbs
2 Tbsp butter
2 Tbsp white wine

In a mixing bowl, gently combine egg, crab meat, parsley, lemon juice, spice and bread crumbs, being careful not to break up any of the meat. Once combined, gently form mixture into 4-5 oz crab cakes. Top with butter, wine and additional Chesapeake Bay Spice and bake in the oven at 375º until golden brown.  Serve with a lemon.

Granny Slappin’ Chicken Bowl

WITH TOMAHAWK JIM’S Granny Slappin’ Good Spice

7 oz chicken breast
1 Tbsp Granny Slappin’ Good Spice
1 Tbsp melted butter
1 Tbsp roasted corn
1 Tbsp pico de gallo
½ avocado

1 pinch cilantro
1 cup rice
1 lime
2 Tbsp sour cream
1 tsp hot sauce
1 pinch sugar
1 tsp water

Start by butterflying the chicken breast and generously seasoning both sides. Place chicken on the grill or in a pan with butter, simmering over medium heat (if grilling, baste both sides with butter while cooking). It is important to add butter as you go to help keep the chicken moist and add more flavor. When cooked, cut into strips.

In a bowl, combine cooked rice, roasted corn, pico de gallo and mix together. Lay chicken breast strips over top of the rice mixture. Squeeze half a lime in a bowl, using the other half for presentation. Slice half of an avocado and neatly spread for a great presentation. In a side dish, combine sour cream, hot sauce, sugar, water and 1/2 Tbsp of Granny Slappin’ Good Spice. Mix together until you have a smooth crema. You may need to add a bit more water to get the consistency right, being careful not to water it down too much. Top with crema and cilantro and enjoy!

Steamed Maryland Crabs


Live blue crabs
Hooper’s Crab House Crab Seasoning
Apple cider vinegar

Melted butter
National Bohemian beer
Steam pot and propane burner

Place live blue crabs into a steam pot, seasoning generously with Hooper’s Crab Seasoning—making sure to add more seasoning for every layer of crabs. Make sure that crabs are positioned with bellies down to avoid them throwing their legs off when the steaming starts.

For steam, add water, apple cider vinegar, and National Bohemian beer (or any beer of your choice) at a 4:2:1 ratio. The vinegar and beer is the secret to flavoring the meat! Turn on the flame to steam the crabs until they turn bright red in color. Be careful not to over cook, as the meat will turn mushy.

Serve with butter, vinegar and more spice. Best served with fresh steamed corn on the cob.

Chile Margarita Avocado Toast


Bread of choice
1 avocado
1 Tbsp Tomahawk Jim’s Hot & Juicy Seasoning
1 Tbsp fresh tomato, diced

1 pinch cilantro
1 egg
3 16/20 shrimp, peeled
1 Tbsp butter
½ Tbsp white wine

Start off by toasting up a piece of your favorite bread. Next, peel the avocado and mash the pulp up into a bowl, until it is a smooth, spreadable consistency. Spread the avocado pulp onto the bread to serve as the vessel of the dish.

In a pan over medium heat, add butter and wine, and when it begins to simmer, add the shrimp. Cover the pan for a few minutes until shrimp is 90% cooked, then sprinkle Hot & Juicy Seasoning, and let the seasoning simmer in with the wine butter. 

Once cooked, dice up shrimp meat and sprinkle onto the toast. In another pan, fry an egg sunny-side up, being careful not to puncture the yolk—yet! When finished, slide onto the toast. Finish by sprinkling on fresh tomatoes, cilantro and another pinch of seasoning. Enjoy!

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Granny Slappin’ Chicken Bowl

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