Seafood Watch And The Sustainable Influence of Local Chefs
Going out to eat is a special treat. At least it is for me, it means I don’t have to clean the kitchen or the dishes. The other reason it’s a treat? Getting to eat food that I can’t make.
Chefs are able to source some of the freshest produce, seafood, meats and cheeses that are unavailable to us in markets. They build deeper relationships within the food chain to serve diners the freshest produce and latest trends. Most importantly, they get to call the shots for where their ingredients come from and educate the public through their offerings and stories behind the food.
The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program is building a community of chefs, restaurants, suppliers and other businesses to collaborate and promote the healthy idea of getting to know food’s origin, and actively participating in the health of our environment. When you hear Seafood Watch, you may immediately think about the ocean and seafood, however the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program is thinking both the sea and beyond––into local food systems.
The Seafood Watch Chef Summit is an annual event to bring chefs together for further exploration of ideas and information around sustainability. It's an interactive, behind-the-scenes tour of farm-to-table networking, helping chefs pass knowledge and consciously sourced plates to customers at their own restaurants. For the Third Annual Monterey Regional Chef Summit, we were brought to Evergreen Acres Dairy in Tres Pinos, just east of Hollister, to see and listen to why this working farm, and many others like it, exist.
Executive Chef Matt Beaudin of the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and his Chef de Cuisine Adam Young have been visiting Evergreen Acres weekly for almost a year, partnering with owners Mike and Jane Hulme, to raise rare six-horned Jacob sheep. The farm also supplies organic goat milk, duck eggs and pig for the chefs. It’s a big nod to small farming, local sourcing and collaborating, and committing to sustainability.
Chef Beaudin is at the forefront of food education and sustainability. He collaborates with many peers and considers the people he gets his ingredients from as partners. He opened up the summit by showing fresh picked ingredients available for the chefs to team together and use later in the day, including a goat slaughtered mere hours before we arrived.
“The most important thing about the Chef Summit is the ability to work with the chefs and to challenge them to do a better job supporting local businesses and local farms and be true to farm-to-table and tell a story. It’s what we try to do in our operations and restaurant--build a story and operations around the food and the farmers instead of find the food and force the farming around it,” exemplifies Chef Beaudin.
The plates made by the teams of chefs exhibit all the possibilities of what can be made with these kinds of ingredients--everything. When we go out to eat at their restaurants, we’re absolutely showing our support and creating demand for it. What could taste better than this?
As Chef Beaudin advocates, there is a story behind the food you eat. Treat yourself to a plate full.
We'd love to see the Seafood Watch list in our area grow! If you would like to see more of our region’s restaurants involved, let them know that new restaurant partners can join the Seafood Watch program for free this October.
Here are a few of their current restaurant and distribution partners in the area: