Chefs from around the country flocked to the barrier island of Grand Isle, Louisiana, for Chefs Ashore, a two-day summit aimed at educating the greater culinary community about the fishing industry and the state of Gulf seafood.  After surveying the damage to Grand Isle first hand, each chef had an opportunity to talk about his or her connection to Gulf seafood and how the oil spill has affected his or her restaurant. Chef Rick Tramonto, a Chicago restaurateur, voiced his concerns and goals in the same breath, saying: “[I want] to stay educated about the seafood down there so I can explain the situation properly. I want chefs to come see what’s going on so they have the knowledge they need to speak and react intelligently. So they won’t take it off of their menu.”

In the midst of much uncertainty over the safety of the seafood and its availability, it is important that chefs understand the current situation in order to make informed sourcing decisions and to address concerns expressed by their customer base. The question-and-answer segment at Chef’s Ashore was just the beginning – it was followed by a “Seafood Jam” session and the creation of two improvisational paintings by artist Michael Israel. Proceeds from the paintings benefit Friends of the Fisherman, a fund established by the Louisiana Seafood Promotion and Marketing Board to benefit fisherman who have been taken out of commission as a result of the oil spill.

For more information on the oil spill and Gulf seafood,