They Came with Questions, Left with Fish and Inspiration

 

To be asked "when the next workshop would be taking place" and "could it be after the holidays, please?" was simply music to my ears. 

Monday the 28th of September, I gathered two dozen chefs at the gorgeous Fairmont Battery Wharf in my first live event on the topic of sustainable seafood. Among the participants were Executive Chefs and Line Cooks, single proprietors and employees of large properties. Veteran sustainability advocates and folks taking their first steps on the path to more sustainable menus. Most everyone indicated they'd learned something new.

This was due to the excellent panel of presenters who generously donated their time delivering up-to-the-minute information and cutting-edge resources designed specifically to meet the needs of culinary professionals.

Executive Chef Brendon Bashford, Fairmont Battery Wharf: Shared what the Fairmont Battery Wharf has been willing to do, such as eliminating endangered species like bluefin tuna and Chilean Sea Bass from the menu. For those starting out on the path to sustainability, it was good to hear the encouragement. And for those already engaged in sourcing sustainable seafood, reinforcing that "small steps toward sustainability" as both necessary and possible, was an equally welcome message.

Lydia Bergen, Assoc. Dir. for Strategy and Outreach Sustainable Fisheries Initiative, New England Aquarium: Described the work of the New England Aquarium from penguins and public awareness to research, advocacy and conservation. She highlighted the steps that chefs could take to move toward more sustainable menus and invited active participation in the work of the Aquarium. At least two in the audience (Andy Husbands and Jose Duart) are already doing so with the celebrate seafood dinner series.

Carol Devine of Australis Barramundi, The Better Fish: Reviewed both the problems and the promise of aquaculture, taking us through the features of sustainable aquaculture as practiced by The Better Fish. As the Boston Globe noted Monday morning the world's appetite for fish will cease to be met by wild caught fish. The question becomes how will aquaculture be managed. 

Leigh Belanger, Program Director for the Chefs Collaborative: Provided the Seafood Solutions report to all participants and presented the brand new on-line sustainable seafood educational tool called Green Chefs/Blue Ocean, developed in partnership with Blue Ocean Institute. Some of the participants are thinking of using it as a staff training tool which would be a fantastic outcome for the day.

Jason Clermont, also of the Conservation Department of the New England Aquarium: Walked us through the new sourcing service FishChoice.com. Several chefs were eager to give it a test drive and were able to do so on laptops in the room. I was delighted to have these new hands-on tools presented to chefs, many of whom were unaware of them prior to the day.

 After the presentations, participants got to use my Macbook to give FishChoice.com a test drive, others caught up with presenters, and many went home with fresh or frozen barramundi courtesy of the Australis Barramundi folks.
 

 

As we wrapped the afternoon, I tried to chat with as many of the participants as I could before they left. Several asked what our next topic would be. Noodling over Community Supported Fisheries which some chefs have been trying out. Other ideas?

 L to R: Jason Clermont, Carol Devine, Lydia Bergen, Brendon Bashford, me, Leigh Belanger, Elyse Antrim. Thanks to Suzanne Wenz, our able photographer!

 

Just in time for the workshop, I was able to get these nifty USB flashdrives created and loaded with materials from our sponsors and presenters. Included on the reusable flash drives were the following items:

 

 I'm so grateful for the support of our sponsors, our hosts, and our chefs for their enthusiasm. And now, Chicago - Lookout here we come!