This week the Terroir Hospitality Industry Symposium, held its ninth event in Toronto. The gathering is an annual highlight that brings together innovative, creative and influential members from the hospitality industry, including chefs, restaurateurs, producers and purveyors, food and beverage experts, writers, and business leaders. The symposium doesn’t just educate – often including speakers who perform unconventional but related work, but also encourages a fertile environment to build community, network, and share in resources.
It’s a collective effort to strengthen and move the whole industry forward in a progressive, positive, and relevant manner.
The theme was Pioneering Change. And while there were many excellent speakers who have either effected change (Gavin Kaysen on the power of decision, who co-founded the Ment’Or Foundation to create better training opportunities for future American Bocuse d’Or competitors), built new opportunities that has transformed and reinvented a community (chef-patron Jair Téllez of Laja shares his experience here), been a part of the changing dialog within digital and print industry (panel chat with Francis Lam and Helen Hollyman), or established a direct connection to the environment (the conference’s collective girl crush on Kimi Werner, American spearfishing champion, Maui); the one repeating theme was regarding responsible seafood practices.
We heard John Bil, importer, wholesaler and owner of Toronto’s Honest Weight, and one of Canada’s most respected seafood experts speak about how complicated it is to eat “sustainable,” with the challenge to restaurants to understand their role where appropriate decisions made in menu planning can help educate consumers to make better decisions.
Ned Bell, founder of Chefs for Oceans, executive chef of YEW seafood + bar in Vancouver’s Four Seasons, spoke powerfully about how chefs could help preserve the aquaculture just through the decision they make. The trickle down effect is powerful.
But Bell has also advised to be mindful that impact is made not just by what we eat, but how much. Take for example, shrimp – an already controversial topic for reasons other than sustainability in the last few years – Bell suggests that we need to start adjusting to the idea of simply eating smaller portions of shrimp and less often:
“That’s the conversation we need to be having right now. Maybe instead of having eight unsustainably fished prawns, you have four spectacular spot prawns instead, and fill the plate up with other things,” he says. “It’s shocking to think that slave labour exists, but I do believe in a global economy and I think we have to impress on our friends in Asia and do a better job with aquaculture. Then we can improve and have prawns in abundance. But I can’t be the guy to tell people to stop eating things, I just think we’re lucky we have choices.”
At the post-Terroir Chefs for Responsible Seafood Consumption meeting, sea urchin diver (and Noma supplier), ocean explorer and educator (my words), Roderick Sloan called chefs and their suppliers to action via a simple and effective charge (see linked video). I’d be really curious what happens when our Canadian suppliers connect with Sloane, and how the network will better the current state of our fishing industry.
The conversation continues from May 14-17, 2015 in St. John’s, Newfoundland and Labrador as part of Terroir’s Best Practice Culinary Mission to St. John’s.
I’ll be heading there to meet with fishing industry experts, learn about the Atlantic region’s fishing and cultural history, and best – sustainable, responsible, and, hopefully, transparent – practices in fisheries. The overall goal is to help create a common platform of understanding and appreciation for chefs, restaurateurs and media so that they can collectively influence change in their own channels in advocating sustainable seafood consumption to consumers.
I’m hoping to share my findings through future write ups, photos, and live via Twitter and Periscope/video content. Simply follow @rssuen. I encourage joining Periscope so that you can be notified directly of the many great ongoing efforts out on the East coast aimed at preserving and maintaining our Canadian seafood stock that I’ll be live broadcasting. It will allow for direct interaction should you have any questios, comments or concerns for the individuals I might encounter, that I’d be delighted to pass along. (Those who join Periscope can also have access to the videos for 24 hours after. I will try to post up any videos logged on a new YouTube channel that will host old Periscope recordings).
Here’s one way to create conversation about a very important part of our ecosystem, but also important food source.
Did you know… that farmed seafood emits the lowest carbon footprint of meats? The same amount of trout emits the equivalent of one-half of pork or one-tenth of beef. Huh.
Stay tuned via the above mentioned channels for more.
More on the Canadian seafood industry, with spot prawns as an example from Nikki Bayley at Munchies: Spot Prawns Are the Slave-Free Shrimp of Canada
Gallery: Terroir 2015 (May 2015)
Video: John Bil’s Terroir 2015 talk
Gallery: Chefs for Responsible Seafood Consumption Meeting (May 2015)
Video: Roderick Sloane’s charge to chefs at Chefs for Responsible Seafood Consumption meeting (May 2015)