Chefs Collaborative is a group of chefs and food industry professionals whose goal is to have sustainable culinary practices be second nature for chefs everywhere.
They believe food is fundamental to life, and good food arises from an environment of clean air, land and water. In addition, sustainable farming, fishing and animal husbandry are also part of their tenets. In educating themselves about sustainable culinary practices, chefs and food professionals can act as change agents in helping to develop a broader market for better foods.
To this end, Chefs Collaborative hosts a number of meetings and events. One of these events recently occurred in Fort Myers, FL and was the area's first Trash Fish Dinner. This is an effort to expose both chefs and the public to underutilized and underappreciated fish species. Why is this important? According to one Source, world fish populations have declined by 50% over the last 40 years. This is due not only to over fishing, but ocean pollution and temperature change, the latter two factors severely affecting the resiliency of sea life. Sea to Table, a company dedicated to better connecting fisherman and chefs as well as a sponsor of this event, had an interesting Article in the Huffington Post about domestic fish consumption and alternative fish species.
The Trash Fish dinner was held at Jack's Farm to Fork in the Pink Shell Resort on Fort Myers Beach.
I arrived a bit early to find chef participants busy preparing the evening's meal.
included Sander Bergstrom from Village on the Isle retirement community, Kristina San Filippo from Purple Spoon Culinary, James Fraser, Culinary Instructor for the Resort and Hospitality Management Program at Florida Gulf Coast University, Richard Howze from Summerlin Jake's Seafood and Steaks, Paw Mikkelsen from Mikkelsen's Pastry Shop, David Rashty and crew from Jack's Farm to Fork, Brett Rayon from Callebaut Chocolate, Pyro Rodriguez and crew at Shangri La Springs, Brian Roland and others from Crave Culinaire and Melissa Talmage with Sweet Melissa's Cafe.
As attendees gathered for the event
they were treated to a variety of wines,
and selections from over 10 chef stations.
This was a wonderful preparation of spiced beets and cucumbers, yuzu, mirin, Sambal Oelek and Togarashi spice served with "winter greens" (kale, chard and Napa cabbage) and garnished with Ogo seaweed. It was so good I went back for thirds.
Chef Kristina San Filippo
served a very good mixture
of fish stock made from leftover fish bones and heads ("the trash of the trash") mixed with a coconut broth spiced with lime and lemongrass, bok choy and micro green garnish.
James and Courtney Fraser prepared fish battered in panko crumbs or beer batter, greens, rice and a choice of wasabi/cucumber, chipotle ranch, sweet chili or Hollandaise sauces. Very good!
Again, another thirds dish.
Paw Mikkelsen and Brett Rayon prepared this totally over the top dessert station
and lava cake.
Chef David Rashty and crew served black drum with a miso glaze, and Anson Mills Heirloom rice
in addition to a nice assortment of vegetables and crab cakes.
Pyro Rodriguez treated diners to smoked mullet with Bearnaise sauce and king mackerel with a sherry sauce,
while Chef Melissa Talmage prepared Creole (Creole mustard) smashed potatoes, green beans and mullet cooked in brown butter, Pancetta and chopped pecans. Delicious!
Last but very not least Brain Roland and crew prepared Bouillabaisse with porgy, jack, lady fish and periwinkle with a traditional fennel/saffron broth, toasted coconut and thin slices of toasted French bread garnished with a squid ink Rouille.
This was very, very good.
Ken Ryan of Herban Gardens micro greens
and Michael Dimin, owner of Sea to Table
Those that stayed late were treated to another spectacular sunset from the restaurant's veranda.
This was a wonderful evening and a great event. It's a must do for those that like great food, and I anticipate the next dinner will be a sellout. As an added plus, monies generated from these events goes to support the efforts of Chefs Collaborative.
This event would not be possible without the generosity of it's sponsors, Anson Mills, Callebaut, Crush Magazine, Florida Microgreens, Oakes Farms, Sea to Table, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch and Sunset Specialties and Spices.
After attending Trash Fish, I can't talk enough trash about this event!
It's a wrap for another post on Forks.