Passionfish forum on ocean & seafood sustainability, summer 2010

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P’fishers, we recently held a fin-tastic forum on the beach on Coronado Island (San Diego, Calif) discussing ocean and seafood sustainability. Our event was co-hosted by the fabulous (and super generous) Hotel Del Coronado and the new, fun-loving nonprofit Cooks Confab that, other than being a group of cooks with a drinking problem, promotes local food and simple ways to prepare it!
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Our panelists were: Caron Golden (freelance journalist), Tommy Gomes (fisherman, Catalina Offshore), Kristen Goodrich (board member, Slow Food Urban San Diego), Martin Alberto Hall, Ph.D. (Chief Scientist, Inter-American Tropical Tuna Commission), Nigella Hilgarth, Ph.D. (Executive Director, Birch Aquarium at Scripps), Don Kent (President, Hubbs Sea World Research Institute), Logan Kock (Vice President of Strategic Purchasing & Responsible Sourcing, Santa Monica Seafood, Inc.), and Andrew Spurgin (Executive Director/Chef, Waters Fine Catering, and Co-Founder, Cooks Confab and Passionfish).
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Our forum moderators were Carl Rebstock (Executive Director, Passionfish) and Robin Seigel (National Conflict Resolution Center).
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Our event was graphically recorded by talented cartoonist Lloyd Dangle (known for his work on the %$&!#@! Airborne packaging, among many years of political cartooning). He specializes in distilling very complex issues in a visual manner to aid problem solving. See his illustration below.
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We got lucky with the weather given that our event was held on the beach during a California coastal summer. Yes, right on the sand just a couple of footsteps from the Pacific Ocean. I was hoping I wasn’t the only one looking at the tide charts (& freezing my butt off that week)! Rain threatened all day (and all of the previous week). But, fortunately, we only had to deal with a fine mist that barely affected anyone.
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Optimists that we are, we had our summer clothes on beneath that marine layer and we charged ahead with our event! We’re grateful for the staff at Hotel Del Coronado who set up the stage and the awesome beach chairs for the audience, the sound/audio guys, and the audience full of culinary students and interested members of the public. Our audience participants also included representatives of several seafood companies. Thank you all.
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Our forum was followed by a decadent reception in the grassy area at Hotel Del, then a spectacular dinner at 1500 Ocean. Check out our Facebook page for details.
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Suffice it to say (for me, anyway), I ate about 50 oysters before the main course/s…and I think people were shocked we actually had an incredible dinner still to occur after the amazing reception. I had no qualms with it, of course.
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A Passionfish forum is unlike other educational forums on the subjects of ocean and seafood sustainability. We offer a venue for various, valid viewpoints that examine and explore solutions to help our ocean recover –no, THRIVE– ecologically while also keeping it a viable source of protein for humankind. Yes, I know how that sounds: IMPOSSIBLE! The ocean can’t do both! Well, we think it can do both.
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It will take sacrifice…there’s a word few seem to understand. A sacrifice in eating habits, and a sacrifice in thinking so that our ocean can continue to produce for future generations — yes, for humans. And, for the animals/wildlife within. And, it will take innovation. Big, bold innovation.
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The panelists (listed above) for our 2010 forum represented various sectors: commercial fishing, the wholesale and retail seafood industry, science/academia, public education and outreach, fishery and aquaculture research, and the culinary/restaurant sector.
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The common threads: Everyone believes the ocean has been damaged and needs recovery. Everyone believes commercial/wild fishing should continue (albeit greatly reduced). Everyone believes that aquaculture (the farming of finfish and shellfish) will have to meet the increasing (‘explosive’ is more like it) demand for seafood among the burgeoning world population; they also believe the U.S. has the best practices and is best prepared to innovate in this sector. Everyone believes that current fishing practices worldwide are not “sustainable.” And, everyone believes that public awareness of “ocean/seafood sustainability” is important, although no one agrees on what that looks like.
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Our forum’s transcripts are here. We will post our audience/panelists’ Q/A soon, and we welcome your thoughtful comments and questions.
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Patti
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Alice Waters interviewed on 60 Minutes

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P’fish’ers,
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Did you catch this past Sunday’s “60 Minutes”? In a segment first aired in March, reporter Leslie Stahl interviewed Alice Waters about having a connection to and relationship with our food. I believe in the philosophy of the Slow Food Movement and champion the amazing work Ms. Waters has accomplished and what she stands for — delicious food that we grow ourselves or from people we know and from companies we trust. Even more moving is her promotion of edible school yards and landscapes!
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But, I wonder how her message will be received by a national audience that watched Ms. Waters poach two eggs in her personal kitchen hearth. Nice work, if you can get it! (I freely admit that I love~and covet~her kitchen…and her giant garden. I have a tiny patio garden with budding herbs and veggies).
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My worry about how sustainability is often presented by the media is that it can come across as elitist. This important topic — one that is vital to our individual and global well-being — is too easily dismissible as unattainable. Who wouldn’t want the freshest, most flavorful, most nutritious foods? Yet how many of us have the free time and spare cash needed to poach free-range eggs over a wood fire for breakfast? The chasm between the haves and have nots represents a huge hurdle for mainstream America. I recognize we’re making great strides around the world with the help of retailers like Walmart. Still, I wonder, how do we popularize sustainability using star power but in a way that’s affordable and accessible for everyone?
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What do you think? How can “sustainable seafood” avoid being labelled a luxury and instead become widespread?? We need sustenance from the sea, whether wild or farmed or both.
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And quite honestly, I know, understand and have experienced how media reports (print, broadcast, etc) are edited for impact. Ms. Waters is a leader, the way indigenous peoples were the world over, quite honestly, with their stewardship of the land. She deserves a lot of credit for spending her entire life trying to get people in touch with the earth and the food we put into our mouths.
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Her quote on the show about how people may otherwise spend money on Nike shoes– well, Birkenstocks cost as much. So, I think this is all much ado about the wrong subject. At essence, the subject is sustaining our planet and the creatures that share our planet, enhancing ours’ and their well-being, and enjoying a certain quality of life. And I mean “enhancing our well-being” to mean improving the nutrition, food access, and economics of the poor, TOO. That point is way too often left out of sustainability discussions.

Passionfish Hosts 5th Annual Poisson d’Avril (April Fish Day) with Culinary Institute of America

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Passionfish celebrated its 5th Annual Poisson d’Avril (April Fish Day) with a group called Chefs Sustaining Agriculture managed by our very own Director of Culinary Education Gerard Viverito. The event on Saturday, April 4, at The Culinary Institute of America in Hyde Park, New York, involved culinary students who designed, prepared and presented the menu. Gerard is an Associate Professor in Culinary Arts at the institute.
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The event started with an educational forum on seafood sustainability featuring panelists Roger Berkowitz, President/CEO of Legal Seafoods, Inc.; Chef John Besh, Chef/Owner of Besh Restaurant Group; Chef Ed Brown, Executive Chef of Eighty One Restaurants; Claudia Houge, Marketing Director for Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI); Chef Rick Moonen, Executive Chef of rm seafood; and Chris Moore, Chief of the Partnerships and Communications Division at NOAA Fisheries Service.
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Producers who donated products included ASMI, Atwater Estate Vineyards, BIJA Oil, and Wild Hive Farm. And, once again, we were honored to have the participation of Scharffen Berger Chocolate Maker via the Artisan Confection Company. Check out the fish-shaped chocolates!
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The meal began with Alaskan spot prawns seared and presented with a saffron bisque sauce, wilted arugula and roasted shallot oil croutons and an almond oil drizzle. This was paired with Atwater Estates Vineyards Chardonnay. Next, guests were treated to a crisped Alaskan king salmon with Wild Hive Farm polenta, fava beans, spring peas, pea tendrils, with Meyer lemon-infused organic olive oil and carrot coulis. This was paired with Atwater Estate Vineyards Dry Riesling. The “main event” was an Alaskan halibut with red flannel hash (local potatoes, root vegetables and chorizo). This was paired with Atwater Estates Vineyards Pinot Noir. The finale was a chocolate dome cake with the chocolate fish.
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Read about Passionfish’s Poisson d’Avril, our annual celebration of fish and mischief.
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Passionfish Co-Founder Presents Sustainable Seafood Event March 24 in San Diego

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Att’n P’fish’ers:
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Passionfish Co-Founder Andrew Spurgin will create a delicious lobster rouille and talk about sustainability at the March 24 “Cooks Confab” at the beautiful Hotel del Coronado. Please see details below and plan your trip now:
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On March 24, 1500 OCEAN at the Hotel del Coronado, Chef de Cuisine Brian Sinnott and the Cooks Confab are pleased to present a focus on sustainable seafood. Chef Sinnott will be joined by fellow “Cooks Confab” Chefs who will interact with guests and educate about sustainable food. The evening will include eight courses prepared by the Confab chefs. Courses such as a Tasting of “Crudo” and Citrus Trio by Chef Sinnott, Striped Sea Bass with Saffron Broth and Lobster Rouille by Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering, and a special dessert by Jack Fisher of Jack Fisher Confections are just a few of the delicious items being served. Cuisine will be paired with Cloudy Bay wines selected by ENO Wine Director and Sommelier Ted Glennon.
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The Cooks Confab is a consortium of San Diego’s premier chefs who believe in “farm and sea to table regional cuisine” and enjoy the camaraderie of cooking together for their dearest friends and clients. The Confab chefs participating in this event will be Executive Chef Christian Graves of Jsix at Hotel Solamar; Executive Chef Antonio Friscia of Stingaree; Executive Chef and Director Andrew Spurgin of Waters Fine Catering; Jack Fisher of Jack Fisher Confections; Chef de Cuisine Timothy Kolanko of A.R. Valentien at the Lodge at Torrey Pines; Executive Chef Jason Knibb of Nine Ten, Executive Chef Nathan Coulon of the Ivy Hotel, and Executive Chef Brian Malarkey of Oceanaire Seafood Room.
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“Having all this talent in the 1500 OCEAN kitchen will be amazing,” says Chef Sinnott. “The creative energy is contagious. This dinner is definitely not-to-be-missed.”
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The March 24 “Sustainable Seafood” reception and dinner begins at 6pm and costs $95 per person (includes wine pairings, tax and gratuity).
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Please call 619-522-8490 for reservations. Visit www.Dine1500OCEAN.com for more information about 1500 OCEAN.
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P’fish’ers: Here’s a follow-up blog feature from Alice Q. Foodie about the event.

Passionfish Co-Founder Interviewed on Sign-On San Diego Radio

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Passionfish’ers,
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Andrew Spurgin, Co-Founder of Passionfish and Executive Director of Waters Fine Catering in San Diego, is interviewed about sustainable fisheries and seafood during this August 14 hour-long radio talk show, “Gourmet Club” on Sign-On San Diego.
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Fantastic job, Andrew! (Love your bit about stripping naked and your science speak! ~ oh, and your extremely informative and insightful discussion)