Posts Tagged Chefs

Jun 30 2017

Seafood meets science at new marine conservation center

June 26, 2017 – Opah crudo, prepared by chef Davin Waite of Wrench and Rodent Seabasstropub, for a sustainable seafood event at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. (Jessica Waite)


A new Scripps Oceanography center will include labs, classrooms — and a test kitchen, where chefs and scientists will develop tasty, marketable dishes from sustainable seafood.

Marine researchers discussed the project with top chefs at a forum Monday, where they considered how to take pressure off popular seafood such as tuna and swordfish by creating markets for new delicacies.

Guests at the event sampled some of those specialties, prepared by seafood experts such as San Francisco Michelin Star Chef Matthew Dolan, and Davin Waite, owner of the pioneering Oceanside sushi bar, Wrench & Rodent Seabasstropub. Offerings included fresh sea urchin, halibut crudo, veggies with fish sauce, and bacon sliders made from Opah, a round predator also known as moonfish.

“How do we get those to market?” asked Richard Norris, a professor of paleobiology at Scripps Institution of Oceanography at UC San Diego. “How do we get people to eat these kind of odd-looking things on their plates?”

That’s the question they’ll explore in the new marine conservation facility, to be located in the old National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration building adjacent to the Scripps campus. The building will undergo renovation starting this December, and open in December 2018, said Steve Gallagher, assistant vice chancellor for Scripps Oceanography.

The facility will have research labs piped with local saltwater, and classrooms where university students, as well as local elementary and high school students, can learn about fisheries and marine ecosystems. It will also feature the test kitchen, where researchers from Scripps and NOAA will collaborate with chefs to determine the best kinds of fish to use and the best way to cook them.

They’ll develop novel recipes using locally caught seafood and parts of fish — such as heads and stomachs — that aren’t typically part of the American diet. The facility will also include a cafe where students, staff and visitors can try out the new creations, Gallagher said.

The plan is part of a push to produce sustainable seafood — including farmed fish, less sensitive species and underutilized parts of fish — that appeals to consumers’ appetites. It capitalizes on San Diego’s unique intersection of marine science and adventurous eating.

“We have the ingredients for a solution,” said Sarah Mesnick, an ecologist and science liason for the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration’s Southwest Fisheries Science Center. “We are poised to be the sustainable seafood capital of the world. The chefs in town are setting the bar for seafood at an entirely new level.”

They’re setting it even higher at the new center, where Mesnick compared their vision to that of famed Berkeley chef Alice Waters, whose restaurant “Chez Panisse” popularized the use of local, organic food in gourmet cuisine.

“Not unlike the revolution that Alice Waters did with ‘farm to table,’ they’re doing it with ‘ocean to table,’” Mesnick said.

To accomplish that, Waite said, they’ll need to push consumers past their comfort zone. He’s succeeded in that experiment at the “Wrench and Rodent,” where his zero waste approach to seafood preparation has resulted critically acclaimed dishes such as Kentucky fried tuna heads and sausage made from fish egg casing.

At the new center, chefs and scientists will put their heads together to bring those unconventional but sustainable tastes to a broader group of consumers.

“How do we market it to the American public and what they’re used to?” Waite asked. “How do you make it cool?”

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