Update: Kimpton’s sustainability pledge

Kimpton Hotels & Restaurants’ decision on Monday to purchase only sustainable seafood according to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program had been in the works for months.

John Critchley, executive chef of Area 31 at Epic Hotel in Miami, told SeafoodSource on Thursday that Kimpton chefs have been reevaluating their menus and working with their fishmongers to determine the sustainability of seafood species.

“Some of the ‘avoid’ species were simple ones to switch out.  Other times, it started with us asking, ‘Where did this fish come from?’” said Critchley, who’s actively involved in Kimpton’s EarthCare program and works closely with the Seafood Watch program.

Critchley decided to menu pole-caught yellowfin tuna instead of net-harvested product and simply stopped offering grouper due to overfishing concerns. He also decided to replace wild Gulf of Mexico redfish with farmed redfish from Lonestar Aquafarms in Palacios, Texas, which he said is a much more sustainable alternative.

“We know that the most important first step is to be working with an honest fishmonger and to have an open dialogue with them,” said Critchley. “It’s important that they understand we aren’t just looking for the most cost-effective product, but that we’re looking at it from a broader perspective. We want a product that is of superior quality and that will meet our requirements in terms of sustainability, taste and cost.”

On Monday, Kimpton — which operates 45 restaurants in its boutique hotels throughout the United States and Canada — pledged to source only species categorized as a “best choice” or “good alternative” under the Seafood Watch program and to shun species listed as “avoid.” This was one of three sustainability initiatives the San Francisco-based company unveiled as part of its Earth Share program, which it launched in 2005.

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