, Gloucester, MA

Latest Cape Ann News

January 12, 2011

Chefs' group backs stand vs. eco-labels on seafood

In a public letter, the Chefs Collaborative has agreed with Legal Sea Foods President Roger Berkowitz that restaurateurs should do their own research rather than let so-called "eco-labelers" dictate what seafood to serve and what to shun.

"Thank you for sparking a dialogue regarding possible exceptions to 'blacklisted' seafood," the 18-year-old organization said in the posting on its website. "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 vs. 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."

Berkowitz sparked a new wave of debate with the announcement that he would host a dinner Jan. 24, to be prepared in the Legal Sea Food kitchen in Park Square, Boston, featuring cod cheeks, hake and tiger shrimp — all choices considered to be no-nos by the lead seafood eco-labeling organizations, notably Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch.

The evening — already sold out — is being sponsored by the Culinary Guild of New England, which helped define the lines of debate by promoting the event as featuring "so-called 'black-listed' fish," to "bring awareness to some of the inherent complexity that exists within sustainability in the seafood industry."

Carrie Richard, president of the Culinary Guild, said reaction has been evenly split — and surprising.

"We didn't know the firestorm this dinner would generate," she said in a telephone interview Wednesday. She added, however, that it arrives at just the right time, and creates "a perfect opportunity" for members to lead a deeper discussion of "the issues Roger is raising."

The argument Berkowitz picked is also coming at a moment in which consumer choices — from home kitchen cooks to elite chefs to the buyers for the great global chains right up to Wal-Mart — have come under intense competitive influence based on commercial partnerships and major nonprofits' environmental views.

Text Only | Photo Reprints
Latest Cape Ann News

Pictures of the Week
Your news, your way
Comments Tracker
AP Video Network
Raw: Magnitude-7.2 Earthquake Shakes Mexico City Ceremony at MIT Remembers One of Boston's Finest Raw: Students Hurt in Colo. School Bus Crash Raw: Church Tries for Record With Chalk Jesus Raw: Faithful Celebrate Good Friday Worldwide Deadly Avalanche Sweeps Slopes of Mount Everest Police Arrest Suspect in Highway Shootings Drought Concerns May Hurt Lake Tourism Vermont Goat Meat Gives Refugees Taste of Home Calif. Investigators Re-construct Fatal Bus Cras Mayor Rob Ford Launches Re-election Campaign Appellate Court Hears Okla. Gay Marriage Case Author Gabriel Garcia Marquez Dead at 87 Chelsea Clinton Is Pregnant Flamingo Frenzy Ahead of Zoo Construction Crew Criticized Over Handling of Ferry Disaster Agreement Reached to Calm Ukraine Tensions Boston Bombing Survivors One Year Later