Dear Mr. Berkowitz,
Thank you for sparking a dialogue regarding possible exceptions to “blacklisted” seafood. This is an issue that Chefs Collaborative has been working on for years.
Back in 2007 we published a Communiqué for our members, titled “Lists v. Local: The Complexities of Sourcing Sustainable Seafood.” The document introduced the concept that lists can be a good starting point but chefs need to take a broader and deeper approach, by talking with each other as well as with conservationists, fishermen, and purveyors.
In 2009 the Collaborative released an updated Seafood Solutions booklet to guide chefs through their sustainable seafood purchasing decisions. Nowhere in this booklet will a chef find a list of “good fish” and “bad fish.” Instead, the guide suggests that chefs get to know their sources, ask lots of questions (and explains what questions to ask), support small-scale fisheries, and never stop questioning and learning.
At both our 2009 and 2010 National Summits we had panel discussions highlighting ways for chefs to dig deeper than lists. And finally, one of our best and most in depth resources is our interactive online sustainable seafood training program, Green Chefs Blue Ocean. The program is intended for chefs who are interested in learning about all aspects of sustainable seafood—including how to purchase, prepare, and promote sustainable seafood in their kitchens and restaurants. Lessons give information on the basics of sustainable seafood; farmed and wild fish and shellfish; local, regional and imported seafood; and implementing sustainable seafood purchasing and a promotion in a restaurant.
We do take our job educating the culinary community seriously. Many credible scientists and academics are sounding the alarm about fish populations because of disturbing data, not opinion. The Chefs Collaborative is proud of our history of encouraging chefs to think about issues, instead of merely telling them what to think. We will continue providing our nationwide network of chefs with the information and tools necessary to make sustainable purchasing decisions and would be glad to deepen our relationship with Legal Seafood and its chefs.
The Chefs Collaborative