On July 22, Chef Mary Sue Milliken, Chef Susan Feniger, and Executive Chef Mike Minor of Border Grill teamed up with Rick Moonen of RM Seafood, Chef Tim Doolittle of Table 10 Las Vegas, Chef Jet Tila of Kuma Snow Cream and The Charleston, and Chef Michael Leviton of Lumiere and Area Four to put on a Trash Fish Dinner for more than 60 people at Border Grill Las Vegas.
The dinner featured delicious alternatives to the seafood we love and eat too much of, highlighting fish species that normally never make it to our dinner plates, largely because they are undervalued or discarded as bycatch.
Chef Mary Sue Milliken wrote an op/ed published in the Las Vegas Sun in advance of the dinner, noting that, “At the dinner, we will taste six to eight interesting and delicious seafood dishes and share amazing trash fish stories. The idea is not to over-promote any one species of fish. We don’t want to do what chefs did to Chilean sea bass years ago…Our hope is to increase awareness and help diners fall in love with some alternative, very plentiful and sustainable seafood.”
We were thrilled to work with these seven talented chefs. We’re proud to share that the dinner did not disappoint. The night began with cocktails (thanks American Harvest), and appetizers including Chef Mike Minor’s Grassy Bar oysters from Morro Bay and Chef Michael Leviton‘s blood clams on the half shell. Guests also started off with Northern California squid tempura – which featured fresh hand-cut squid, shishito peppers, soy ginger serrano glaze.
“It was an amazing night, with some of the top chefs getting together at Border Grill for a great cause. I was so proud to be hosting the first Trash Fish Dinner in Las Vegas,” said chef Mike Minor.
As everyone sat down to enjoy a multi-course meal, they began with grilled baby romaine with Pacific sardine croutons, and Chef Michael Leviton’s sea robin ceviche with corn cakes and cilantro crema.
Other menu highlights included Border Grill’s Passmore Ranch sturgeon, which consisted of smoked sturgeon brandade with mashed potato, seared pea tendrils, and sturgeon caviar.
“Rick Moonen described his Bycatch Bouillabaise as a ‘methadone program’ for addicts of more widely known fish, but it was better than that. In fact, all of the food at the one-night-only collaborative dinner from Moonen, Border Grill chefs Mike Minor, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Boston-area chef Michael Leviton and Wynn-alum Jet Tila was fantastic…”
The chefs had fun cooking together, and they also kept their eyes trained on the point behind the evening: “We’ve been passionate for years about preserving the health of our oceans and the variety of seafood for generations to come,” noted Chef Susan Feniger.
Before dessert, Sheila Bowman of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program spoke to the crowd about the seafood on the menu. She answered questions about the menu choices, and discussed the importance of diversifying our seafood choices.
The evening ended with Chef Jet Tila’s TCHO Chocolate mint snow cream – with cocoa nibs, mochi, and taro drizzle (thank you TCHO).
We are beyond thrilled with the success of Trash Fish Dinners so far, and want to give a big thank you to our sponsors: Border Grill, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, American Harvest, and TCHO Chocolate. It was a joy to bring the dinner series to Las Vegas and help convene chefs to highlight under-appreciated seafood species.