By Lauren Kramer, SeaFood Business contributing editor
Published on 07 November, 2012
When the University of Notre Dame Food Services received Chain of Custody certification from the Marine Stewardship Council in November 2008, Executive Chef Donald Miller was determined to make the process easier and less complicated for the universities that followed this path on the road to seafood sustainability. It had taken him almost a year to obtain the certification and as the first university in North America to receive it, he knew he could provide a template or guideline to other schools.
His wake-up call had arrived in 1998, when he was the executive chef of the Notre Dame University Hotel and was catering a benefactors’ dinner attended by then-president Father Edward Malloy. A week later, Malloy forwarded an email to him from one of the benefactors. “[The email] lambasted me for serving Chilean sea bass at a benefit,” Miller recalls. “I knew I needed to spend some time getting a handle on seafood sustainability.”
To date, Notre Dame’s hotel and conference are MSC certified, as well as the university’s north and south dining halls, its Legends Restaurant, Greenfields, its healthy cuisine concept, and its USD 7 million catering operation. The centralized receiving warehouse is also MSC certified.
“If you’re clever, getting MSC certification is not as expensive as you might think,” he says, adding it is simplified by Notre Dame’s food management computer system, SeaBoard. MSC-certified seafood represents 33 percent of the 170,000 pounds of seafood served at the university each year. “But that includes farm-raised seafood and MSC only certifies wild seafood,” he adds.
Miller switched some of the seafood species he was using, including chum salmon instead of sockeye, and halibut, pollock, sablefish, tuna, cod and Arctic char that had MSC certification. The cost was approximately 4 percent higher, he says, but the payoff has been significant in terms of awareness.