Tuesday, August 27, 2013

Calling All Food Service Pros Who Care About Thier Access To Gulf Seafood

I am writing this post to ask for your support and participation in an outreach and public education campaign to protect access to local, sustainable Gulf fish for restaurants, consumers and seafood businesses.I have spent time in the Gulf and know how much seafood means to both recreational and commercial fisherman. Some of my favorite seafood dishes highlight Gulf Seafood and I for one would love to continue to have access to these amazing species, but I need your help to do so.

 While the vast majority of fishermen believe in sharing the Gulf’s resources with everyone, a few powerful interest groups are angling for changes to regulations that would result in popular Gulf seafood disappearing from the plates of millions of Americans. They want to pass new fishing regulations and Congressional bills that reserve more and more red snapper and other reef fish for recreational fishing. In fact, we’ve seen this happen before; in the 1980’s commercial fishermen (and chefs) were shut out of the Gulf red drum and speckled trout fisheries. If popular Gulf of Mexico seafood is increasingly set aside for recreational anglers, then supplies of fresh, wild and sustainably managed fish will be harder to come by. That means chefs, restaurant owners and consumers will have to rely more heavily on farmed and imported fish at a time when the popularity of local seafood is at an all-time high. We believe that all Americans – sportsmen as well as restaurants and seafood lovers – deserve to enjoy the Gulf's bounty. And they shouldn't have to catch it themselves to do so.

 What can you do? • Join the coalition! • Be a spokesperson for the campaign • Help recruit others to join the coalition • Highlight Gulf red snapper (or grouper) on your menu • Testify to members of the Gulf’s Fishery Management Council • Call or write your Governor or Member of Congress • Host an event to raise awareness on the issue • Co-author an Op-Ed or submit a Letter to the Editor

For additional information and to become a member of the Share the Gulf coalition, please visit www.gulfseafoodheritage.com or contact Liz Bodet at 504-583-5550 egoliwas@bellsouth.net.

I want to thank Tim Fitzgerald who is the Sustainable Seafood Director for Environmental Defense Fund & Chef Stephen Stryjewski, Share the Gulf Coalition Chef Chair Chef/Owner Cochon and PĂȘche Seafood Grill for sending me this same note that I can now share with you.

Friday, August 2, 2013

The Coastal Table: Recipes Inspired by The Farmlands & Seasides of Southern New England

I am extremely honored to be included in this wonderful collection of recipes from what I consider to be some of this countries most underappreciated farmland and waters! My recipe is featured on page 117 and is my modern interpreation of the traditional clams casino...to find out more, you can buy the book by following this link CLICK HERE Congratulations to Karen Covey, what a wonderful addition to my collection and the photos, stories and recipes from her inspriations as well as some of my great friends and chefs from this area including Barbara Lynch, Josh Lewin & Matt Varga!

Monday, March 18, 2013

Out Of The Kitchen

Some fun with food this late winter season...but honestly, I can't wait for spring!

Wednesday, February 27, 2013

Trash Fish: Meet The Cape Cod Blood Cockle

Trash Fish dinner is sold out next week and I have decided to use a clam.....not just any clam, a clam that's almost hard to talk about. Every time I say its name I watch the faces of horror I get. The rare but delicious Blood Clam.

 Ask any well seasoned fishermen if they’ve ever tasted one ....most will say, nope. But trust me, absolutely nothing wrong with eating them! Tonight at the hotel, raw on the half shell with lime and cilantro ( South Americans use them for making ala minute ceviche on the beaches with lime and cilantro)

Question I've been getting all day......Chef, do they really bleed?  Well......Yes they do and so do traditional local clams.

They’re a local species to our waters, specifically and mostly found in the Cape Cod Bay but can be found up and down the eastern coast of the Americas, from Massachusetts to Brazil, they are named for their most distinguishing feature, vivid red blood that spills out when the clam is opened. Most clams, and other bivalves, have clear blood, but the blood clam’s blood contains hemoglobin.Which makes it subject to the blood diseases that afflict humans. Blood clams from China have been banned because they were found to have hepatitis c.

But dont worry, our Blood Clams are safe! The clams here, which are found in the muddiest part of our local bays, are disease free and mostly sold to Asia as it is a delicacy but more importantly, much safer to eat from our waters, and also sold to South Americans, mostly Ecuadorians, who make ceviche out of them.  

From a sustainability stand point, absolutely no issues with over fishing and when hand dug, very eco friendly. So a thumbs up from the New England Aquarium & the EDF.

We will be using them to make our interpretation of a traditional street food in Indonesia, Blood Cockle Satay. We are also using local Maine shrimp to make our version of a Sambal. So looking forward to this dish development process! And I hope for those of you that were lucky to get a seat at the table next week....you enjoy them!

Wednesday, February 20, 2013

"Trash Fish to Cash Fish"

I've had a week to reflect on why exactly I decided to be a part of EDF National Outreach Day in Washington D.C. and it was not just to have a unique experience on Capital Hill that many people don't get to experience.

I was invited to join a very small group of local New England Chefs and Fisherman to meet with both our Congress & Senate representatives. I was humbled to be included by Chefs Mike Leviton & Sam  Hayward representing a local chefs point of view but more importantly from a united communities point of view. Also representing their States were Chefs Rick Moonen, Kerry Heffernan, William Dissen & Andrea Reusing.

We started the day in Senator Elizabeth Warrens office and from their had the opportunity to meet with and discuss our ideas individually with Congressmen William Keating, Joesph Kennedy, Edward Markey and John Tierney all whom were very knowledgeable and in some cases experts on issues from seafood fraud to underutilized species. The message from us was clear, science needs to be a huge part of the solution but that takes time and the trust in today's science is far from acceptable. What is more important is what can we start doing today? And a few suggestions we brought to the table which were very well received in all of our meetings were...

1) Underutilized species- we know we have them, we know they are delicious and we know by catching them and creating a market for them we can help lessen the pressure on the fisherman who mostly target ground fish whose quotas have been slashed. We asked for more science in helping us determine whether the underutilized species we want to market to New Englanders are in any way vulnerable. Will we have a "Monkfish" issue? We also asked for help in marketing these species to our region in a way that can help create demand and increase the value of those underutilized species and keep our fishing communities working.

2) Education- we asked for support in funding educational programs for kids, to teach them about the value of local New England Seafood, teach them to expand their knowledge outside of cod and haddock. We asked for help in funding seafood cookery programs for the general public. Most people in our region still don't eat fish regularly, and many of them would like to prepare more fish at home but just don't know how.  This could be a great tool that just drives awareness of the issues we face but also gets our communities to want to buy more local seafood.

3) Disaster Relief- We need to help our fishing communities fast. President Obama has already declared many fisheries disasters. But yet none of those disasters have seen any money. Now take for example the drought the hit the middle of our country hard in 2012. Many of our nations agricultural farms didn't even have a season, and quickly it was determined a disaster and money was allocated and distributed almost overnight. Now here in lies the problem. The majority of the Senators and Representatives represent land locked states, so we need to convince them that their vote matters to them, matters to their economy and matters to their citizens. We need to convince them that the disaster that happened in their states is equally as important as the fisheries disaster. We need to support each other as AMERICANS not as individual states.
We need the money to be able to allocate and distribute accordingly to keep families afloat, get the education piece going and fund the science needed to make better decisions.

I will tell you that meeting our nations leaders and discussing the state of the industry with them from our point of view was an amazing experience that I hope will at the very least encourage discussion in DC, BUT my favorite and most humbling moment was having the day to spend with 2 local New England Fisherman.....

Captains Tim Barrett and Toby Lees are amazing, experienced fisherman with the courage to stand up against many of their peers. Th stories they told me were from the heart and the heart they have comes from the oceans they fish. They are men who risk everything on a daily basis, they are men who are part of our fishing history, men who have helped shape the New England Fishing Industry, men whom I want to help stay on the water. Realizing that these men AND their stories could be gone forever, these men have fished to the edge of the horizon with their skill, courage and as Tim told me on the flight home, luck, the little bit of luck that brings them home safely.

I tell you this and have absolutely no problem saying that If push came to shove I would purchase fish from these two regardless of what those "Seafood lists" say, I would purchase fish from them regardless of what color is listed next to the species they catch in order to make sure that their tradition, history and don't forget...livelihood are protected.

How have we become a nation that cares more about the non-human element than we do about the people whose occupations helped build what we know is the USA?

With that said, we're lucky to have these fisherman who realize that change needs to happen and they are first in line to see to it that we New Englanders look to other solutions including finding a way to first verify that underutilized species are healthy from a stock perspective. Then find ways to catch these species in a sustainable manner. We need to create a market and demand, and  pay a fair price to these fisherman and the communities that support them.  Can we as a community help turn Trash Fish into Cash Fish?

I know I'll keep trying and hope that you will join us on March 10th at Area Four in Cambridge as we, a community of chefs gather to show you the wonderful bounty of seafood we have in our local waters.

Thursday, January 31, 2013

Devastating News For New England Fishing Communities

The news is not good at all, with huge decreases in the allowable catch on everything other than red-fish, winter flounder, pollock and halibut. To sum it up, the highly anticipated second stock assessment found the same results as the first one, confirming the dire situation of our local ground fish stocks. Because of this assessment significant cuts have been recommended which will be devastating to New England fishing communities, especially New Hampshire

Now More Than Ever We NEED TO SUPPORT the promotion of underutilized species in our local waters to help save our fishing communities. 

Please read the Following Press Release for detailed information
  New England Fishery Management Council
News Release
Newburyport, MA 1/31/2013 Contact: Patricia M. Fiorelli
For Immediate Release 978/465.0492, ext.106
Portsmouth, NH Following a review of the available scientific information, advice from
its Scientific and Statistical Committee and testimony by fishermen, the New England Fishery
Management Council approved major cuts to the region’s cod stocks yesterday. Despite that
catches of Gulf of Maine cod and Georges Bank cod are already restrictive, the Council took the
action out of concern over the poor condition of both stocks and worry that the situation could
worsen without additional protection.

The Council’s 18 voting members approved the cuts by wide margins. For fishing years
2013 through 2015, the Council agreed to decrease the overall quota for Gulf of Maine cod by
77 percent. Fishermen’s allocation will be reduced from 6,700 metric tons in 2012 to 1,550
metric tons, beginning on May 1 this year. Georges Bank cod is shared with the Canadians and
that quota is set annually under an agreement between the two countries. In 2013, the U.S.
share will be set at 2,002 metric tons, a 61 percent drop from the 2012 quota of 5,013 metric

Wednesday’s day-long deliberations were well-attended by New England fishermen who
were unequivocal about their concerns over the cuts. In turn, many Council members
expressed their awareness about the serious negative economic impacts that will undoubtedly
occur and affect the small inshore boat fleet in New England most significantly. Many
fishermen in this group have been historically dependent on cod and have already seen the
impacts of decreased catches.

The Council’s sentiments were clearly pointed out by Chairman Rip Cunningham. “The
Council was faced with very difficult decisions concerning Gulf of Maine and Georges Bank
cod. In the final analysis there were no goods choices,” he said.
The New England Council develops rules for both large and small-scale commercial and
recreational fisheries that operate between three and 200 miles off the coastlines of Maine, New
Hampshire, Massachusetts, Rhode Island and Connecticut.
# # #
New England Fishery Management Council | 50 Water Street, Mill 2 | Newburyport, MA 01950
Tel 978.465.0492 | Fax 978.465.3116 | www.nefmc.org

Sunday, January 27, 2013

We're On Our Way To D.C.!

This February I will be heading to Washington D.C.with American Fisherman and a few select chefs  to express our concerns with fisheries management today. Even after decades of regulations aimed at restoring fisheries big problems still exist and thanks to the Environmental Defense Fund we will have a voice at our nations political hub to share our frustrations but most importantly to give our suggestions and feedback as to the impact that both regulations and lack of regulations has had on the fishing community as a whole.

Ask yourself the true meaning of sustainability? in basic terms it is the what, where and how something is being produced, fished or raised. But to me and more importantly, the message I aim to bring to the Congress floor is the WHO and the WHY? Who is in charge of making the decisions impacting the American fisherman? Why are we making decisions without thinking about about replenishment? What about progressing? Where are the efforts from our politicians to help swing the decisions of the American consumer to diversify their seafood selections?

I have learned the hard way I like to think, that consumers drive demand. Restaurants, fish markets, big box supermarkets etc...will all carry what the consumer wants. We need to start focusing our efforts on diversifying our American palette when it comes to seafood and think about those other species of fish that are in great shape and can provide fisherman with fish to catch at a fair price paid by consumers. This sounds simple enough but I fully understand the challenges we face trying to send this message on our own. This is why we need the United States Senate & Congress to help us send this message. This message doesn't only help our fisherman....it helps the entire fishing community and also helps the fish in the sea. By alleviating the pressure on those challenged species and allowing the abundant species to be introduced all while providing a fair income to those suffering the most, not the Cod, but the fisherman.

Thursday, January 17, 2013

Meet the Scup, The Sea Robin & The Dogfish

After a year of talking about it, a year of phone calls, and a year of collaboration with some of my great friends and of course, amazing chefs.....we are excited to announce the First Chefs Collaborative Trash Fish Dinner! 

About the event: Meet the scup. The sea robin. The dogfish. These are fish that have traditionally been left off the menu by chefs, discarded by fishermen as bycatch, and virtually unknown to the general public.
During this family-style multi-course dinner, you’ll enjoy Atlantic fish that fly under the radar, prepared by eight renowned chefs from the Boston area, Rhode Island, and New Hampshire. All proceeds benefit the work of Chefs Collaborative.

Featured Speaker: Barton Seaver – Sustainability Fellow in residence at the New England Aquarium and National Geographic Society Fellow.

Who’s Cooking:
Evan Mallett, Black Trumpet Bistro
Evan Mallett, Black Trumpet Bistro – Portsmouth, NH
Eventbrite - Trash Fish Dinner: The Best New England Seafood You’ve Never Tried

For more information, contact Rob Booz: 617-236-5200 or rob@chefscollaborative.org