Two years ago, Duke’s Chowder House was proud to receive the highest rating in the state of Washington from Fish2Fork, a global independent rating agency that focuses on sustainable seafood in restaurants.
But what exactly does this rating mean?
What is Fish2Fork?
Based in the UK, Fish2Fork was founded in 2009 by Tim Glover and Charles Clover. Charles is an environmental journalist and author of the book End of the Line, which has been described as the definitive book about the issue of over-fishing. The book inspired a documentary film, directing the attention of millions toward declining fish stocks, poorly managed fishery operations and unsustainable fish farming.
Tim and Charles didn’t want the attention to fade away; they wanted to make sure the public kept thinking about sustainable seafood. Thus, the creation of Fish2Fork! They tasked themselves with rating restaurants based on the sustainability of the seafood on their menus. After starting in the UK, Fish2Fork has since expanded to include rating restaurants in France, Belgium, Switzerland, and the United States.
How Does it Work?
Just like Duke, Fish2Fork believes that sustainability is the key ingredient of good seafood dishes. This is what sets them apart from other restaurant rating agencies. Rather than rating restaurants according to their culinary skills, Fish2Fork bases their ratings on two key points:
1. The overall sustainability of the seafood being served.
2. Any efforts made to inform and educate customers about the sustainability of their seafood.
Several considerations combine to form these basic criteria. A restaurant and its customers are offered the chance to fill out a questionnaire which aims to clearly demonstrate the steps a restaurant is taking to ensure the sustainability of its seafood choices. When reviewing a restaurant, Fish2Fork looks at a number of possible scenarios.
• Are there any species on the menu that are currently endangered, or on the endangered species watch list compiled by the IUCN (International Union of Conservation of Nature)?
• Is full information about the seafood available to their customers?
• Is the seafood on the menu wild or farmed, and was it farmed responsibly?
• Is there a clear “ocean to plate” journey that is traceable?
Answers to these questions and many more are collected and scored, which is in turn, converted into a formal rating. Information from a restaurant’s website may also be taken into consideration. Customers often look online in order to answer any questions they may have about a restaurant before deciding where to dine. It is in the best interests of a restaurant to provide information about its sourcing policies to their customers, and displaying this information on a menu is sometimes just not practical. Fish2Fork will even award a rating based solely on online information, should a restaurant decline or be unable to fill out a questionnaire.
Why Is This Important?
Over and over, Duke has passionately declared his commitment to serving only sustainable seafood in his restaurants. When you ask him why, his answer will invariably be something like: “I will do everything I can to make sure there is plenty of salmon and Wild Seafood for my grandchildren, and for our grandchildren’s grandchildren.”
Fish2Fork has the same commitment, for the same reasons. Ensuring future generations will have an opportunity to eat suitable seafood, with the wide range of culinary experiences we enjoy today, is their goal.
Over the past five decades or so, just over a quarter of the world’s fish populations have been severely depleted. Many have collapsed due to overfishing, while others have reached a breaking point; any increase in fishing and they may be damaged beyond repair.
Approximately half of the seafood consumed on the market today is farmed, which makes responsible aquaculture more important than ever. Replacing damaged fishery operations with environmentally dangerous farming practices makes no sense. Proper management of our fisheries and aquaculture is absolutely crucial to preserving seafood populations. Poor oversight and ignorance of best practices must be corrected if future generations can hope for an abundant marine environment.
This is why Fish2Fork campaigns globally for improvements to how fisheries are controlled and operated, as well as circulating general information about sustainable seafood to consumers.
Duke’s and Sustainable Seafood
For over three decades, Duke has made it his priority to serve sustainable seafood in his restaurants, especially Wild Alaskan Salmon. “I have a passion for many things,” Duke says, “and 100 percent Wild, Sustainable Salmon is one of my highest.”
Duke has personally sourced his salmon from the best fisherman and women in Alaska, working closely with them to create a stable “ocean-to-plate” system. He’s taken the time to determine how to properly bleed a fish, how to ice it, and at which temperature to store it to maintain an optimum fresh taste. Every step, from catch to processing to transport, has been developed from best practices and with sustainability top of mind.
The same is true of multiple ingredients on Duke’s menu, including growth hormone-free dairy products and grass-fed beef. You won’t find aspartame or high-fructose corn syrup hidden in the kitchen either. This commitment to sustainable menu items is what earned Duke’s the highest Fish2Fork rating in Washington State two years ago. It’s also what has made Duke’s Chowder House a resounding success over the years. “Making sure Duke’s provides great tasting food that’s also wholesome and doesn’t harm the environment is extremely important to me,” says Duke. “Buying natural just makes sense.”
A Great Partnership
When a restaurant wants to serve the very best quality seafood available, and a rating agency wants to raise awareness about declining fish stocks worldwide, a wonderful partnership is born. A partnership from which consumers benefit greatly. Consumers have the power to pressure governments, businesses and the fishing industry to make changes for the better. The choices they make in terms of where and what they eat are integral to inspiring necessary change, and it’s important that they are capable of making informed decisions. This is why Fish2Fork continues to provide ratings to restaurants across Europe and the US, helping to keep consumers up-to-date and aware of what’s going onto their plates.
To learn more, visit Fish2Fork’s website.
Come see for yourself why Duke’s has received the highest rating in Washington State! Book a reservation at one of our six locations today and support sustainable fisheries.