How We Work Together to Promote Sustainable Seafood
At Duke’s Chowder House, we only serve 100% Wild Alaskan Salmon and Halibut. Alaska has one of the most sustainable fisheries in the world; it’s a large part of their legal mandate.
I have spent the past four decades traveling up to Alaska, meeting fishermen and fish processors, in order to learn everything I can about how to preserve the fresh, wild taste of Alaskan Salmon. I know exactly how the Wild Salmon at Duke’s got from Alaskan waters to your plate, right down to the temperature at which it was frozen and the truck driver that brought it to the kitchen door. I know it’s sustainably caught.
But how do you know? How do you, as a diner, know that you are making a responsible, sustainable choice when ordering seafood at a restaurant?
This is exactly why Duke’s is proud to be a part of the Smart Catch program, designed to help consumers, chefs, and restaurant owners find sustainable seafood options.
What is The Smart Catch Program?
The program originally began as a pilot project in Seattle in 2015 by philanthropist Paul G. Allen, and has been wildly successful in its efforts to increase sustainable seafood options on Washington State menus. It has now been incorporated into the James Beard Foundation’s Impact Programs, making it a part of a national non-profit that aims to celebrate, nurture, and honor chefs and other leaders making America’s food culture more delicious, diverse, and sustainable for everyone.
Smart Catch is ultimately created by chefs, for chefs, and passes the benefits of this approach to restaurant diners. Chefs have a tough job. They are in charge of creating specials, updating menus, and ordering all the food a restaurant needs in the near future. There is usually food being delivered every single day!
So, it’s no surprise that many chefs simply don’t have the time to track down sustainable seafood suppliers, test their products, check their credibility, ensure that customers enjoy it, and on and on. That’s where Smart Catch comes in.
Smart Catch aims to help chefs improve the sustainable seafood options on their menus by providing the tools and resources that chefs need to find those options.
The goal is to get a restaurant’s menu to 80% sustainability
By increasing the demand for sustainable seafood, the supply chain will expand and grow stronger, thereby having a positive impact on fisheries and marine environments around the world. And that’s what Duke’s has most in common with the Smart Catch Program: we both want to preserve fresh, wild seafood for future generations.
Why is Sustainability Important?
The concept of sustainability, when it comes to food, is rooted in the future: we want to ensure that future generations have access to the same nutritious, delicious food that we do.
Over 90% of the world’s fisheries are either overfished or currently being fished to capacity. This is unsustainable. It means that promoting sustainability and preserving marine environments is more important now than ever before.
Chefs, restaurateurs, and consumers together play a major role in demanding sustainable seafood options and growing the market. You have the power to pressure governments, businesses and the food industry into making changes for the better. The choices you make about where and what to eat are integral to bringing about those necessary changes, and it’s important that you are capable of making informed decisions.
U.S consumers buy most of their seafood at restaurants, making it even more important to work together to provide sustainable menu options. Diners need an easy way to identify restaurants that serve sustainable seafood so that they can make those responsible, informed decisions.
That’s why Smart Catch restaurants, including Duke’s Chowder House, display the Smart Catch emblem in their windows. It helps you find delicious, sustainable menu options that you can feel good about ordering.
How Smart Catch Works
This program is really driven by the chefs in our restaurants. Professionals like Chef “Wild” Bill know the importance of supporting the sustainable food market, and that the implications of not getting involved are dire and real.
Chefs that want to get on board with the program can go online to Fishchoice.com and use the Menu Assessment tool to determine their current menu sustainability. Then, Smart Catch provides all the tools necessary to break down the barriers preventing that restaurant from serving sustainable seafood. These tools include:
- menu consultation
- staff training materials
- marketing support
- supplier connections and guidance
The goal is to make a restaurant’s menu 80% sustainable. Once reached, the restaurant is declared a Smart Catch Leader and receives their Smart Catch window emblem.
By serving sustainable seafood that is fished or farmed in environmentally responsible ways, chefs and diners can help protect the overall health of our oceans for generations to come.
Sustainability and Me: The Duke Commitment
I’ve made it my mission to promote and serve 100% sustainable food on Duke’s menus, and I’m lucky enough to have Chef “Wild” Bill by my side to help me achieve that goal. Together, we have spent years sourcing not just sustainable seafood choices but also produce, dairy, eggs, and meat.
People often ask, “Why do you get your fish all the way from Alaska? Can’t you find fresh fish closer to home?”
The answer is yes, we could find ‘fresh’ fish closer to home, but it just isn’t sustainable. And that’s just not my style. Duke’s Chowder House is committed to serving only 100% Wild Alaskan Salmon and other fresh, wild-caught seafood.
Duke’s Chowder House is proud to be a leader in the sustainable food movement, working alongside programs like Smart Catch to change the seafood supply landscape, one menu at a time.
Remember, you have the power! Educating yourself is an extremely important step towards building a more sustainable food economy and helping to reduce further harm to the environment and to wild fish populations.
Make good choices and book a table at any one of Duke’s six locations for a truly sustainable seafood feast. Join our VIP Club to get a free lunch, coupons and special offers directly to your inbox!