Sustainable, fresh, and socially conscious—Food Network Chef Andrew Zimmern is on a mission to promote Blue Foods.
With that aim in mind, the Emmy Award-winning television personality and activist stopped by this year’s SXSW to host a four-course dinner in partnership with the James Beard Foundation and co-host David E. Kelley.
Award-winning chefs Ann Kim, Michael Fojtasek, Tavel Bristol-Joseph, David Forman and Rick Lopez also participated, creating dishes paired with Distinguished Vineyards and Wine Partners. This star-studded event was hosted at downtown Austin’s stylish Malverde Restaurant.
Global hunger increases each year. An escalating problem, it’s estimated that 10 billion people will need to be fed by 2050. To meet demand, leading experts say food must become more sustainable. Blue foods, also known as aquatic foods, are foods that are captured or cultivated from the ocean, rivers, lakes, ponds, raceways and tanks. These foods support hundreds of millions of livelihoods and are a critical source of nutrition for several billion people around the world.
For Zimmern, finding a way to feed generations to come isn’t about just one solution.
“We have to take 20/30/40/200 solutions and press all of those gas pedals simultaneously, if we want to heal our planet,” explains Zimmern. “The place I swung into in the sort of mobius script of ideas is aquaculture, and along the way I met hunger and food waste.”
At SXSW, the dinner menu featured fish from Kvarøy Arctic, a third-generation family-owned business in Norway that focuses on sustainable fish-farming conditions. One unique feature – Kvarøy Arctic makes sure certain waters are left undisturbed for six to eight months, with five different sites rotated, allowing each site to return to its pure, natural state.
Not only that — something most impressive, in my opinion, is that Kvarøy Arctic claims to have double the Omega 3 levels of other salmon. This is largely due to technology that enables zero suffering for the fish, as opposed to traditional fishing. This is incredibly good news as Omega 3 is proven to help a person’s heart, brain and eyes—while promoting anti-aging.
“We have 50 million swimming fish who are happy right until the end,” says Alf-Goran Knutsen, CEO of Kvarøy. “We pride ourselves on raising them in a stress-free environment. Less stress for the fish means better meat quality.”
Crisp and fresh—with an array of flavors in each bite—I enjoyed the fish in Chef Ann Kim’s Grain Salad which delicately mixed a lightly smoked reverence trout with fermented vegetable salad, touches of kimchi, fresh vegetables, and vinaigrette. It was also a perfect pairing with the Dough Wines Chardonnay.
The main course, prepared by Chef Zimmern, was a grilled Kvarøy Arctic Salmon with mustard-miso sabayon and mustard greens. It was also paired to perfection, this time with Dough Wines’ Pinot Noir.
To cap off the meal, local superstar Chef Tavel Bristol-Joseph of Austin’s Emmer & Rye presented a Bisque Cheesecake with Candied Monterrey Bay Seaweed Company Sea Grapes. I really liked this cheesecake because, instead of having a crust, it is burnt at the top and bottom, then baked at 500 degrees for five minutes. That intricate process created a marriage between the bitterness of the burn and the creamy center with such a different, yet satisfying, contrast in taste. Chef also used sea grapes in place of a sea salt brusher.
Overall, a thoughtful and delicious meal, prepared with intention and to promote a worthy cause. Similar events will take place around the country and world later this year as part of both the Smart Catch and Fed by Blue programs, as the James Beard Foundation works to open dialogue between businesses, restaurants, and consumers about building responsible blue food systems.
Purchase the Kvarøy Arctic salmon through Amazon or Whole Foods Market.
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Cover photo courtesy Eric Wolfinger
Britni Rachal lives in Austin, Texas. She is a freelance journalist, full-time marketer, and a Realtor®. In addition to writing, Rachal enjoys traveling, event planning, fashion, fitness and serving the Austin community.