Tuesday, September 20, 2011

My Response To The Passionate Foodie

The Passionate Foodie went on a rant today about our upcoming Head to "Tail FIN" dinner read his post here.

I am always willing to answer any questions from anyone who may question my decisions in my kitchen.

So to The Passionate Foodie:

First of all we are not hosting a "Blacklisted" seafood dinner, we are hosting a dinner to show how we use the whole ocean animal and we are doing that using seafood that is in no danger of being over fished. We work directly with fisherman & seafood distributors(Wild Rhody, Sea 2 Table, Foley Fish) who all take great care to make sure that the seafood they catch and sell are done so using responsible and sustainable fishing methods.

Your concern over monkfish is valid if the only list you use is Monterey Bay, but there is much more to the species that Monterey Bay fails to mention. Monkfish is a true certification that correctly managed fisheries can restore a particular species. Monkfish was the first real fishery that was noticed to be in danger and through fisheries management, quota based fishing and gear changes to help with the by catch issue we have seen a species come back to more than acceptable levels. I am proud to support fisherman and fisheries who are doing the right thing and the Monkfish fishery is a perfect example of how to change the direction of a fishery that was in a bad place a few years ago.

I assure you ALL of the seafood we are using for the upcoming dinner are at extremely healthy levels and the decisions we make are based on scientific facts and ethical beliefs that we are working with fisherman and seafood distributors that are concerned with the future of our seafood.

I am happy to discuss why each of the species I am using is on the menu.

Green Sea Urchin- Nova Scotia , best managed urchin fishery in the world. Diver Caught Sea Urchin have virtually no impact on the sea floor , no by catch and strict quotas are in place to assure overfishing does not occur.
Yellowfin Tuna-long line yellow fin tuna specifically from the Atlantic has strict bycatch regulations making it a good choice for Tuna. Also the fast reproduction at early ages make it a species that is in no danger of being overfished today.
Monkfish- completely restored fishery. Biomass levels are higher than normal. Although deepwater gill nets and trawlers can have some negative environmental impact, gear restrictions and by catch laws have made this a fishery that is moving in the right direction and I am proud to support that.
Atlantic Cod- another Atlantic Fishery that is on the upswing in its restoration process. Gulf Of Maine Cod is no longer being overfished. Strict Catch limits and sector laws have made a huge positive impact on the North Atlantic Cod Fishery.
Head On Gulf Shrimp- Fishery that is strictly managed and some of the toughest bycatch laws in the country. Fast reproduction and no threat of overfishing. By catch reduction devices and Turtle Excluder devices are mandated by law to be used by Gulf Fisheries.
Atlantic Longfin squid- absolutely no sustainability issues and most seafood watch lists have this as the best choice for squid

I am proud to offer all of these items for our Head To tail FIN dinner and am confident that we have sustainability and responsibility on our minds with every menu that we write. The lists that are out there(including Monterey Bay) are great tools for those who are learning about sustainable seafood and I use them myself if I have a question.  But there are so many factors that play into why a species may be blacklisted by one organization and considered to be a good choice by others.
At the end of the day the decisions I make are based on knowing where my food comes from, knowing how its being fished and knowing who is eating my food. Empowered with this information I feel 100% confident in my decisions, I am proud to be supporting my local fisherman and seafood distributors , I am proud to be supporting the efforts of the regulators who have proven that a well managed fishery can be restored and I am proud to be teaching my staff, guests and those who are willing to listen that there is more to seafood choices than what a list has to say.

The opportunity to work directly with fisherman, environmental organizations like the EDF, Chefs Collaborative and more has given me the tools I need to make decisions that I am proud of. I now make decisions based on my knowledge and the knowledge of those willing to share their expertise with me. I admit nothing is perfect and I learn something new everyday about sustainability and responsibility.

 I am confident that we are hosting a responsible dinner to get people together to enjoy the bounty that the ocean offers us, learn about seafood and seafood sustainability issues and most importantly eat some amazing food and drink amazing wine all while meeting new friends and enjoying the time with old ones.

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