Last night the Minnesota Zoo hosted its fifth annual Fish Bites; an event focused on raising awareness around the issue of sustainable seafood. Over 150 people showed up to the event, which featured nine of the Twin Cities' top chefs. Each chef prepared a dish using sustainable seafood, allowing guests to experience a variety of fish they might not otherwise be familiar with.
Masu Sushi & Robata's Tuna Tataki prepared by chef T.J. Rawitzer
Fish Smart, the educational branch of the MN Zoo that deals with sustainable fish, defines sustainable seafood as "seafood that is either wild caught or farm raised that cannot only sustain current populations but thrive over the long term." The Monterey Bay Seafood Watch Program provides information on fish considered to be sustainable based on collections of scientific information. All the chefs at last night's event have committed to using sustainable seafood in their restaurants.
As for the food, the chefs put together a plethora of top-notch fish plates. Birdhouse executive chef Jes Werkmeister shucked oysters for the crowd, and Butcher & the Boar chef Jack Riebel dished out a delicious pickled shrimp cocktail. Heidi's chef Stewart Woodman put together a luxurious crab bisque, and Sea Change chef de cuisine Jamie Malone served a slice of mackerel with kimchee atop a crispy rice cracker. Masu Sushi & Robata's chef T.J. Rawitzer presented hungry event-goers with an outstanding and
spicy tuna tataki, while FireLake Grill House executive chef Paul Lynch rolled out an excellent dish using not only sustainable but locally sourced Lake Superior herring. Oceanaire's chef Robert Wohlfeil also used a whitefish from Lake Superior, which he had pan-fried with a wild rice crust. Luci Ancora/Ristorante Luci executive chef James Kohler prepared a dish of Tasmanian crab, berlotti beans, and a variety of fall vegetables and dressed it with a shellfish vinaigrette. Local catering company Lancer Catering provided a duo of sable fish (black cod), which included one pan-roasted version and another prepared into a spanakopita. Each dish also had its own specific wine pairing courtesy of Lakeville Liquors.
The event was emceed by Cities 97 radio host Brian Turner, who provided information on the Fish Smart program and on sustainable seafood. He also presented local food superstar Sue Zelickson with the first ever Fish Smart Champion award.
The event concluded with an array of desserts, coffee, and a shark-feeding demonstration presented by the Minnesota Zoo's Diver Dan.