As the owner and executive chef at upscale Asheville eatery The Market Place, chef William Dissen is a firm believer in food with integrity. The ingredient activist makes regular trips to Capitol Hill to fight for transparent labeling of genetically modified foods and always sources his downtown eatery’s inputs with a keen eye toward sustainable production.
This week, the chef is traveling to Bristol Bay, Alaska, and he’s agreed to take Xpress‘ entire readership along for the ride. He’ll share updates and photographs throughout his sockeye salmon sourcing trip, during which Dissen plans to investigate “one of the most sustainable fisheries on the planet and what it takes to get wild seafood from ocean to fork.”
Chef Dissen’s initial check-in details his arrival in Alaska and goals for the trip:
Hello Alaska! I can’t believe I’ve finally made it here! My trip started out earlier this week with some personal exploration into the Kenai Peninsula, specifically over to Girdwood [in Anchorage] and Alyeska Ski Resort and then on to Homer and the Kachemak Bay State Wilderness Park.
Hiking, adventuring, and exploring Alaska and “the Last Frontier” has been an eye-opener into the vast grandeur of the wilderness of our most northern state. And with the opportunity of a lifetime to go to Alaska, I had to make sure to squeeze in as much adventure as possible!
But today, the real adventure starts. I’ve joined up with my cohorts from the Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Authority, journalists from around the US, and others in the sustainable food industry. Together, we are here to examine the salmon fishery in Bristol Bay: how the fish begin and end their life cycle, how they are harvested from the rivers and sea, and how they’re processed and sent around the world to get to our dinner tables.
My trip was put together by two great groups — The Chefs Collaborative (a national organization of sustainable chefs) and the Bristol Bay Regional Development Association (a state organization focusing on the development and operation of the fishery in Bristol Bay) — to help promote the sustainability of this federal fishery and to deepen understanding of the importance of sockeye salmon to this unique ecosystem, as well as how wild salmon help to feed the world.
At The Market Place restaurant, we are proud partners with the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch program and have made a commitment to serve and sell only “sustainable seafood.” This means that the fish we put on our tables every night have not been over-harvested, have come from a federally-regulated fishery, and are safe to eat both in terms of health and their effect on the environment. We’ve made this connection for the health of our customers, and because of our desire to preserve the opportunity to eat seafood for generations to come.
I’m hoping to showcase to everyone out there that there aren’t just “a lot of fish in the sea,” and that how we harvest seafood and the decisions we make about what we eat can have a direct effect on our environment.
As you follow me the next few days, I hope to give you a view into one of the most sustainable fisheries on the planet and what it takes to get wild seafood from ocean to fork.
Stay tuned for more online coverage of chef Dissen’s Alaskan adventure in the coming days.