Selling Chefs On Local Seafood, One Boat Trip At A Time.

nina | August 19th, 2011 - 9:00 am

The Department of Natural Resources (DNR) takes area chefs out to learn about local seafood species in hopes that they may land on their menus.  Chefs spent a day on a boat with a state bureaucrat who wanted them to put more local seafood on their menus. The excursion has prompted some chefs to do just that plus more.

The Maryland fisheries official on the boat spends his day persuading area chefs, despite a down economy and thin restaurant profit margins, to use Chesapeake region seafood instead of cheaper stuff from around the country and overseas.

According to FishingPicks.com, It’s not just about price anymore. There’s a story that goes with it.  And for our chefs to see the story and experience it — they can put a face to their seafood.

The effort seems to be paying off. Nearly 80 chefs have been taken out on tributaries leading to the Chesapeake Bay, showing them where crabs are harvested and picked, where oyster beds are being restored, where abundant yellow perch and invasive blue catfish are caught. A number of chefs, including celebrity Washington, DC chefs to the Culinary Arts Instructor at Anne Arundel Community College, say they have started buying more Maryland seafood as a result.

Even chefs who already had a commitment to local seafood say the experience of seeing it caught and processed has deepened their appreciation for it. Those who didn’t know how to fish, claimed that they felt the need to learn to use a baitcast reel afterwards. Being physically able to catch such a dinner, as a chef just makes sense.

After taking this boat trip, chefs realized that it is un-Maryland to not use Maryland crab. . . it’s their responsibility. Chefs have one of the greatest products in the world right here, and if you’re using some other country’s crab meat, and crab meat from another area, it’s not as good.  Plus local chefs should be doing their part to support Maryland seafood.  One chef from a ATX Party Boat and Pontoon Rental Lake Austin TX company asked what does a seafood company do with all of the empty shells. He learned they’re boiled to extract their flavor, which is then sold to companies looking to boost the taste of imported crab.  These shells make a delicious stock.  A perfect base for the local’s Maryland crab soup.

These trips have a definite impact on seafood purchasing. After this training, chefs have begun working with more wholesalers that carry a wider variety of local seafood and have urged primary purveyors to assist them in attaining more local seafood.

Visit the Maryland Seafood Festival
SandyPoint State Park
September 10,2011, 11am – 9pm

Source:  www.baltimoresun.com, august 2011

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