Vancouver chef turns ‘trash’ into treasure


Lauren Kramer, Contributing Editor

Published on
April 23, 2014

When Frank Pabst started his Unsung Heroes sustainable seafood festival at Vancouver’s Blue Water Café 10 years ago, his main motivation had nothing to do with increasing traffic at this trendy, fine-dining hot spot. A founding member of the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise conservation program, the 47-year-old executive chef was driven by a sense of responsibility to initiate, promote and improve the festival held each February. He hoped to bring awareness to local, niche seafood species that are often overlooked, and to avoid species that he deems unsustainable.

“Being a chef at a seafood restaurant and the father of two children, sustainability is kind of a no-brainer,” he says. “I have a responsibility to choose seafood that’s sustainable, plentiful and high quality. I want to make sure that in 10 years, when my kids are adults, there’s still salmon and halibut around and they can enjoy going out and seeing all these fish on restaurant menus.”

It’s no coincidence that the festival takes place in February, when West Coast salmon are out of season. The goal of the menu is to encourage diners to try underutilized species by packaging them with more familiar ingredients. The sturgeon liver is served as a pâté with white anchovy bruschetta, marinated red pepper and buffalo mozzarella, while the sardine is stuffed with pine nut gremolata and wrapped in a thin sheet of fried bread and the herring tartare is paired with ginger, shiso and green onion and ponzu sauce. Among the 12 items on the Unsung Heroes menu are jellyfish, mackerel, octopus, seaweed salad, sea cucumber and whelk, and all of them are priced between USD 9 (EUR 6.51) and USD 12 (EUR 8.86) per entrée. Previous years have featured steamed gooseneck barnacles and poached periwinkles.

Click here to read the full story that ran in the April issue of SeaFood Business >

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