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Posts Tagged ‘chef’

Photo: Catherine Smart for The Boston Globe
Steelhead trout from the University of New Hampshire aquaculture program.

As the tension between traditional fishing and the sustainability of the marine environment increases, so do hopes that some fishermen will get interested in the new approaches to aquaculture.

One new approach is being tested at the University of New Hampshire in collaboration with a New England chef.

Catherine Smart writes at the Boston Globe, “About a year ago, Jeremy Sewall — chef and partner of Row 34 and Island Creek Oyster Bar restaurants, and the recently opened Les Sablons — was scrolling through his Instagram feed when he spotted a glistening, speckled Steelhead trout from Greenpoint Fish & Lobster Co. in Brooklyn. The caption read that it was raised through the aquaculture program at the University of New Hampshire.

“As Sewall tells it, ‘I screenshot that picture and send it to my purchaser Phil and say, “Find me this fish, I own a restaurant in New Hampshire and I need to find this fish.” ‘

“The rainbow trout in question was raised by Michael Chambers, a research scientist at UNH’s School of Marine Science and Ocean Engineering.

It was grown in an offshore pen that bears little resemblance to the stagnant, antibiotic-filled fish ponds people might associate with aquaculture.

“Many phone calls to the marine biology department later, purchaser Phil found Chambers and set up a meeting with Sewall. The scientist and the chef sat down to lunch. ‘Come to find out, that was kind of the end of the project. They had raised the fish [he saw on social media] and they weren’t sure what they were going to do next year, and I was like, “We have to do this, it’s incredible,” ‘ says Sewall.”

So they partnered.

Smart describes meeting Chambers and Sewall at the Judd Gregg Marine Science Complex and heading out with them to feed the fish.

Chambers said, “ ‘As a biologist, you want to see your chicken, your cows, every day — so you can see if they are healthy. If something is up, you can catch it right away.’  …

” ‘What’s unique about this is that we have a floating system that’s designed to hold fish at the center. And we have these,” he says, pulling up tubes of nylon netting, filled with mussels and seaweed growing on rope. ‘These act as biological filters, or a biological curtain, which are now taking nutrients that the fish give off and are absorbing them, taking that nitrogen out of the system.’  This Integrated Multi-Trophic Aquaculture system, known as IMTA, is a big part of what sets Chambers’s project apart. …

“As a restaurateur, Sewall sees a major business opportunity, likening Chambers’s method of fish farming to the small organic farms that chefs patronize to get the best meat and produce. He is willing to wait for the fish to grow and is eager to create new dishes to showcase the end product.”

More at the Globe, here.

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Restaurants are having trouble finding trained workers, and many low-income people have trouble getting themselves qualified for a job.

Enter the Culinary Arts Training Program at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center in Dorchester, Mass.

Sacha Pfeiffer writes at the Boston Globe, “A recent business survey found that the state’s dining sector is facing its worst labor shortage in more than three decades. That survey, by the Federal Reserve, called the staffing situation a ‘crisis,’ and Boston-area restaurants of all types report that hiring at every level, from dishwashers to chefs, is a major challenge.

“But those industry woes pose an opportunity for graduates of free culinary training programs offered by the Salvation Army, Pine Street Inn, Lazarus House Ministries, Community Servings, UTEC, Roca, and other local nonprofits, which have become a small but valuable source of employees for the region’s food service industry. …

“At [November’s] culinary graduation at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Corps Community Center in Dorchester, for example, several prospective employers attended the event to canvass for possible hires. …

“Aimed at low-income students, the programs generally offer basic training in cooking techniques, knife skills, food terminology, menu planning, nutrition, and kitchen safety standards. Many also teach ‘soft skills,’ such as resume writing and effective interviewing, and job-readiness, like the importance of punctuality. …

“Most also provide job placement assistance at not only restaurants, but school cafeterias, hospital kitchens, nursing homes, sporting venues, corporate cafes, and large food supply companies such as Aramark and Sodexo.

“ ‘There are more jobs than we have students for,’ said Paul O’Connell, the former chef/co-owner of Chez Henri in Cambridge who is now culinary director at the New England Center for Arts & Technology, which offers a 16-week culinary training course. … And even low-level jobs in the food sector can lead to lasting careers.

“ ‘The beauty of our industry is if people have a really good attitude and want to learn, they can go from the dish room to the boardroom and everywhere in between,’ said Robert Luz, chief executive of the Massachusetts Restaurant Association, which collaborates with many nonprofit programs.

“ ‘I’ve seen an incredible number of people grow their career from line cook to assistant kitchen manager to kitchen manager to chef and beyond,’ Luz added, ‘so it’s the road to middle income for a lot of people.” More here.

Photo: Jonathan Wiggs/Globe Staff
A graduate of the Culinary Arts Training Program at the Salvation Army’s Kroc Center shows off his certificate.

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Sometimes I wish I lived closer to where the migrants are pouring into Europe. When I read, for example, about all that Germany is doing, how organized the country is about getting people acclimated, helping with housing and language, it makes me want to sign up. In Samos, Greece, Suzanne’s friend’s family spent weeks buying and distributing food, diapers, and other necessities.

Mark Turner writes at UNHCR Tracks about a chef who acted on his impulse to do his bit. He “packed his knives, drove to Croatia and started cooking.

“After serving up 6,000 piping-hot meals for refugees, the Swedish chef’s big wooden spoon is looking worse for wear.

“ ‘It wasn’t broken when I began,’ says Victor Ullman, a 27-year-old from Lund, displaying a large wedge-shaped hole as he pulls it from a simmering pot.

“But long days and nights serving stew to thousands of Syrians, Afghans, Iraqis and many others have taken their toll. ‘As long as I am awake, I am cooking,’ he says. …

“We’re in Bapska, Croatia, a few hundred metres from the border with Serbia, where tens of thousands of refugees have [crossed], seeking safety in Europe.

“They arrive by foot, in baby strollers, in wheelchairs, hour after hour, day after day, wet, hungry, exhausted, on an epic trek towards the unknown.

“And all along the way they are met by an army of volunteers from across Europe, drawn by an overwhelming desire to help.

“There’s Florian, the small farmer from Austria; Ghais, a Syrian who made it to Europe last year; Livija, a trainee pizza maker from Berlin; Stefan, a long-distance walker (‘3,200 kilometres in 82 days!”’); Danjella, a former refugee from Bosnia.

“There are activists and BMW workers, students, sociologists and physiotherapists, sporting fluorescent yellow waistcoats marked with their name and spoken languages, reassuring the crowds, united by a sense of shared humanity.”

Victor “also feeds the aid workers and the Croatian police, who he says are good guys doing their best. ‘They call me the crazy Swede,’ he adds.

“Victor shows me a pair of boots given to him by one policeman, after he’d given his own shoes away to a refugee. ‘I love these shoes,’ he says. ‘They’re like a memory from here – one of them. Spread the love!’ ” More here.

(Jane D: thanks for the lead on twitter.)

Photo: Igor Pavicevic

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I had heard about community-supported-agriculture-type efforts that deliver fish directly to consumers in the Greater Boston area. Very fresh. What I did not know is that this sort of initiative is taking place on a wider scale.

My husband recently pointed out a NY Times story on how professional Rhode Island fishermen have made it easy for chefs to buy directly from the daily catch. And according to the Times, the chefs are ecstatic.

“This boat-to-table initiative is part of Trace and Trust, a program that [Point Judith-based fisherman Steve] Arnold; Christopher Brown, the head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association; and Bob Westcott, another local fisherman, started this year to make fishing more lucrative and shopping more reliable. …

“Trace and Trust comes at a moment when the seafood industry is under attack because of misleading labeling as well as the freshness and sustainability of what it sells. Consumers and fishermen have reacted by setting up community-supported fisheries, in which consumers pay in advance for a weekly delivery of seafood. And fishermen have reached out to chefs before. But Trace and Trust has used technology to create a more direct and responsive connection between consumers and fishermen than any other program in the country, said Peter Baker, director of Northeast Fisheries Program for the Pew Environment Group.”

Read more here. See also the Pew Environment Group’s focus on Conserving New England Fish.

Because of the field I’m in, I do have to spare a thought for the fish-processing jobs that may be lost with more of this direct marketing, but there is no doubt that for the fisherman, the consumer, and the restaurant, fresh is best.

Here’s a picture I took of the Point Judith (RI) fishing fleet at rest.

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