Teach a Man to Fish Flying Fish Award 2009 - To TIME Magazine's Heroes of the Environment: Kin Lui, Raymond Ho and Casson Trenor

Teach a Man to Fish, our annual sustainable seafood event starts this year off with a GIANT BANG.

Breaking news: Time Magazine naming my friend Casson Trenor and his partners Kin Lui and Raymond Ho as Heroes of the Environment for 2009.

I have to agree with Time that these groundbreaking guys have helped reshape the way we think about sushi and that is to everyone's benefit.

2009 Teach a Man to Fish Flying Fish Award for going above and beyond...

The first annual award went to Lia Huber of Nourish Network, for coming up with a simple strategy for talking to your fishmonger. This year I have to give the award to our boys at Tataki. Congratulations! If you're in San Francisco, check out Tataki Sushi Bar.

While putting the finishing touches on my Teach a Chef to Fish workshop coming up Monday I happened to pop online and connect with Casson just as he learned of the honor. I shared his first few ebullient moments (and quite a few exclamation points and crazy IMs). Then quickly secured an exclusive interview with the guy at the center of this breaking news story. Regular readers will recall the Tataki Trio from Teach a Man to Fish last year:

Chef Kin Lui, Casson Trenor, Chef Raymond Ho - 2009 Time Magazine Heroes of the Environment - Moguls & Entrepreneurs Category


A Few Moments with a Time Magazine Environmental Hero

I spoke with Casson just moments after he learned of the Time Magazine Environmental Hero Honor.

When did you first learn that you won this honor?   

About four hours ago, sitting here in my hotel room in Amsterdam.

Describe the moment you picked up the magazine and saw/or learned about the award?

I haven't seen the magazine yet!  But I got a google alert in my email, checked it, and... I dunno, I still can't really believe it.  I'm so happy.

What started you on the path of sustainable sushi?

I love sushi... and I also love the ocean.  I guess it kind of grew out of that.  I realize that the ocean is in serious trouble, and the art of sushi will be lost if we can't heal our planet.  I don't want that to happen... it seems like such a dismal prospect.  I want my children and their children to know both the beauty and magnificence of a healthy ocean and the taste and experience of sushi.

What did you do before you worked on this issue/worked with Tataki?

I used to work for a great group called FishWise.  They're an NGO based in Santa Cruz, CA that specializes in helping grocery stores transition to sustainable seafood.

What will you do next?

I'd love to take sustainable sushi to the next level.  To get a major restaurant chain or grocery store chain on board.  

You've been very busy with Tataki, as well as other ventures, describe what's new on the sustainable sushi scene?

It's growing all the time.  The newest sustainable sushi joint, Mashiko in Seattle, opened up a couple of months ago.  It's fantastic; Hajime Sato, the chef/owner, is one of the most dedicated and innovative people I've ever had the good fortune of working with.  I am so proud of him and his crew, they're doing great things.

What's up with the Bluefin Tuna boycott? What's up with EU?

I'm in such a good mood, I don't really want to talk about the EU and bluefin right now...!  But to make a long story short, the recent vote indicates that the EU is not ready to support Monaco's proposal just yet -- a small group of Mediterranean countries still can't accept the fact that we need to protect this animal.  It's a setback, but we shall overcome!  We need countries like the US, Brazil, and South Africa to come out and help us save the bluefin tuna.  

What are 5 sushi choices we should all avoid?

Bluefin, farmed shrimp, farmed salmon, farmed eel, and hamachi.

Does it really make a difference if I stop eating maguro, after all I'm just one person?

Yes.  Demand shifts matter.  But if nothing else, if you stop eating large tunas like yellowfin and bluefin, you save your body from a huge potential mercury issue.

Can I still have fun and enjoy sushi?

Absolutely!  Come to Tataki! 

What are 5 really good sustainable sushi choices we can find anywhere?

Here are a few basic tips:
- Ask for wild Alaskan salmon instead of farmed salmon,
- Order smaller fish when they're available -- sardines and saury are great options,
- Go for the silvery-skinned fish, like mackerels -- they are generally sustainable and have lots of Omega-3s,
- Clams, mussels, oysters, and other farmed bivalves are usually great choices.

What are 5 we should ask our sushi bars to start carrying?

Arctic char, sardines, geoduck, spot prawns, and -- most importantly -- vegetarian options.  There are so many ways to make interesting and tasty vegetarian and vegan sushi.  

What does it feel like to be on a list with Cameron Diaz - will you be celebrating together?

Haha!  I would love to celebrate with her!  Do you have her phone number??

So there you have it, Cameron if you're out there reading this, I know a great guy who knows some fantastic chefs doing sustainable sushi...!

Chefs Lui and Ho - I wish you heartfelt Congratulations, too! I know you were in the middle of busy lunch service when the news broke, I hope you're celebrating the well-earned recognition. Kampai!