With the prominence of greedy consumption and overfishing today, it would appear that seafood and sustainability are mutually exclusive to each other. However, as evidenced by the strong turnout at the Toronto Zoo’s event, Seafood for Thought, and the many supportive chefs in the city who came out to offer their finest sustainable fish dishes, it was apparent that a flourishing partnership does exist between the two.
The aims of the event were twofold: the funds raised from the evening would go to the Zoo’s Conservation Fund, which supports projects committed to the protection of wildlife and wild spaces; the second objective was to spread awareness of the need for more people to eat seafood with a social conscience.
The Toronto Zoo and a growing number of restaurateurs have formed partnerships with Ocean Wise and Seafood Watch (a program of the Monterey Bay Aquarium). These organizations have endeavoured to increase our social responsibility to the seas by being purveyors of knowledge. In their various programming initiatives, they are allowing people to cultivate an understanding of the status of the seas and make more informed decisions when they dine at a restaurant or shop at their local supermarket. More of us are cognisant of issues surrounding overfishing, inhumane treatment, and overconsumption; eating to excess will limit future availability and variety.
In a practical sense, many chefs turn to sustainable seafood because of taste. For instance, Chef Albert Ponzo of Le Select Bistro cited that the flavour of overfished skate was negligible and “unusable” simply because they are not caught in their prime state.
By supporting a noble cause, chefs like Trista Sheen of Crush Wine Bar and Chef Lora Kirk of Ruby Watchco feel that exercising sustainable practices in the kitchen will create a trickle down effect. Diners are taking an active interest in discovering where and how their food is sourced and chefs feel more responsibility to ensure there is seafood for future generations to enjoy. Red Fish Chef David Friedman explained that the event was an extension of the philosophy they operate in his restaurant. Thanks to relationships with local farmers, he knows what seafood is most flavourful and abundant.
Thriving in its fifth year, Seafood for Thought was an affair with waves of jubilation swimming through all of the event’s attendees and chefs. Pandas Er Shun and Da Mao also partook in the festivities and were present for all the guests’ viewing pleasure. Our relationship with the seas didn’t end that evening – this wasn’t simply an event but a growing movement to support a cause that ensures we are able to eat with a clearer conscience and prevent more species of wildlife from becoming endangered or extinct.