Chefs Collaborative and Trout Unlimited's Save Bristol Bay campaign have teamed up to celebrate the world's largest sockeye salmon fishery this June and July. Over 50 restaurants around the country have signed up to host a Savor Bristol Bay Dinner, featuring fresh wild sockeye salmon straight from the pristine waters of Bristol Bay, Alaska. Participating restaurants include Rick Moonen's rm seafood at Mandalay Bay in Las Vegas, Restaurant Nora in Washington, D.C., ESCA in New York, and Blueacre Seafood in Seattle.
Restaurants will be hosting Savor Bristol Bay Dinners not only to promote one of the world's greatest and most sustainable fisheries, but to also raise awareness about the threats Bristol Bay faces from a proposed open-pit gold and copper mine that foreign companies want to develop in the headwaters of Bristol Bay's most productive salmon rivers.
"Great ingredients like Bristol Bay sockeye salmon make us better chefs," notes Michael Leviton, Boston-based chef and owner/partner of Lumiere and Area Four restaurants and chair of Chefs Collaborative's national board. "So we all have an obligation to protect resources like this one."
Bristol Bay, in Southwest Alaska, is home to the world's largest sockeye and king salmon runs, with as many as 60 million sockeye returning every year. Sockeye salmon, renowned for its distinct red flesh and exceptional flavor, is one of the healthiest sources of protein and Omega-3s. Bristol Bay provides nearly half of the world's sockeye salmon, and its commercial and sport fisheries generate $500 million a year, employ more than 14,000 people and support countless other businesses. Large-scale mining, such as the proposed Pebble Mine, would destroy dozens of miles of salmon streams and several thousand acres of salmon wetland habitat, according to a report by the Environmental Protection Agency.
"In order to provide my guests with the best dining I need high quality ingredients, like wild Bristol Bay salmon," says Rick Moonen, Las Vegas-based chef/owner of Rick Moonen's rm seafood and a leading advocate of sustainable seafood. "Our nation's food industry cannot afford to lose the world's largest sockeye supply to a hard metal mine of unimaginable size and scale. We need to protect our last sustainable seafood sources while we still can."
Adds Michael Dimin, founder and owner of Sea To Table, a seafood distributor that ships sustainable fish to chefs across America: "The future of our family business relies on the health and productivity of our nation's wild fisheries, like Bristol Bay. We all share responsibility in making sure that our last great fisheries are protected for future generations."
Bristol Bay's fishermen are especially proud to have their fish featured in restaurants around the country this summer. "We work long, hard hours harvesting the world's greatest sockeye, and it really means a lot to Bristol Bay fishermen that restaurants and diners appreciate the quality and value of this amazing fish," says Matt Luck, a commercial fisherman and board member of the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association. "Since Bristol Bay sockeye feeds millions of people each year, we hope consumers will add their voices to the fight to protect Bristol Bay."
Diners around the country can savor chefs' creativity with sockeye salmon and support Bristol Bay's thousands of fishermen by attending a Savor Bristol Bay Dinner and enjoying fresh Bristol Bay sockeye salmon throughout the summer on local restaurant menus. The full list of participating restaurants is available here: www.savebristolbay.org/savorbristolbay
Savor Bristol Bay Salmon Dinners were created by the national coldwater fisheries conservation group, Trout Unlimited, in partnership with Chefs Collaborative and the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association.
For more information, please visit Save Bristol Bay.