It’s summertime, and our Responsible Sourcing Vendor Partner program grantees have been busy! Here are some updates from a few of our local California and Baja California projects! You can read more about each project on the RSVP webpage.
Fathom Consulting’s pelagic trawl gear improvement project is gearing up for the September field season where they expect to test the impacts of several different gear configurations on the sea floor. This involves working with the Monterey Sanctuary and the Remotely Operated Vehicles (ROVs) to monitor the effects the experimental gears have on the surrounding environment. Further modifications are being made to the experimental trawl gear to make it both more user friendly and cost effective for fishermen, as well as less impactful to the marine environment.
The California Collaborative Fisheries Research Program (CCFRP) has been a longstanding member of Santa Monica Seafood’s RSVP program, conducting research on fish populations within California Marine Protected Areas. Every summer they conduct volunteer angling trips to catch and tag fish – a really fun way to study! They are currently scheduling and gearing up for their volunteer trips to be conducted this summer and early fall. As a reminder, if you would like to be a volunteer angler, sign up here.
COBI is another organization we have funded for several years now, working with fishing cooperatives in the Magdalena Bay region of Baja California Sur on fisheries sustainability. We’ve received some pretty good news from Mag Bay: the fishing cooperative named “Bahía Magdalena” decided just last month to renew their marine protected area for 3 more years! Their initial commitment was for 5 years (ending in December 2014). It was a pretty hard decision to make since in the short term it represents a big financial sacrifice. This sets a great precedent for conservation in this area, which is hit particularly hard with bycatch and overfishing.
The Pfleger Institute of Environmental Research team is working with NOAA scientists on the preparation of a scientific manuscript that documents the vertical and horizontal movements of swordfish within the Pacific Leatherback Closure Area (PLCA). The work details the movements of 13 swordfish tagged within the closure area and describes the potential for alternative fishery options for west coast sword fishers. The PIER team is also preparing for additional Southern California deep-set buoy gear trials in 2014. The work will be performed with two cooperative fishers and focus on documenting catch, fisher acceptance and feasibility. Currently, all gear sets have been purchased and the teams are awaiting the arrival of the summer swordfish run off Southern California!
Thanks for being part of this great program!
As an ISO 14001 Certified company we show our commitment to the environment in a variety of ways. ISO 14001 recognizes that standards throughout our entire operation help continually reduce our environmental impact. Although responsible sourcing is a key component of our approach, our commitment extends to all our departments.
We focus on a variety of approaches – we’re always improving our recycling systems, water usage, efficient routing of trucks and other processes to help reduce our impact on the environment and we’d like to hear from you about what your establishment does in a effort to “go green”.
From your choice of take-out containers to looking at composting food waste there are endless ways for restaurants to implement green business practices. Here are a few more simple ways to get started, but we’re interested in what you’re doing to innovate.
Feel free to share your experiences in the comment section below!
A new study by Constellation Brands research about different types of wine consumers had some interesting ideas that we think can easily apply to how you choose the seafood you’re offering your customers. This article on Beveragedaily.com outlines this 6 categories as:
- Engaged Newcomers
- Everyday Loyalists
- Price Driven
- Image Seekers
What does that have to do with your next seafood order? Everything! Each one of your customers is going to engage with the complicated world of seafood in their own way and understanding what motivates them is key to providing them with an amazing experience.
So, what are they thinking about? Engaged Newcomers and the Overwhelmed may have concerns with issues they see in the media – mercury, over fishing, mislabeling – all these hot topics leave consumers feeling confused. Training and education can keep you and your waitstaff on top of those issues (let us know how we can help!).
They may also be looking for mild fish in simple preparations. Pacific cod, salmon, domestic catfish, shrimp; these are “gateway” seafood choices that customers are comfortable with. Sustainability no brainers like wild Alaska salmon and halibut or famed clams and mussels make it easy. Check out the Seafood Watch Super Green list for even more suggestions.
Price Driven customers can benefit from our daily specials and seasonal price breaks. Right now Wild California Sea Bass is in season and pricing is great – get it on the menu now! High quality frozen seafood is another options. Our newest cod option – Village Cove Pot-Caught Pacific Cod – is an excellent fish choice at the right price.
Image seekers? Imagine Seafood Towers piled high with king crab legs and jumbo shrimp turn heads. Big lobster tails, caviar set ups, table side preparations, whatever causes a stir – get creative!
Enthusiasts are looking for seafood choices that they can really sink their teeth into – think “Trash Fish” as popularized by Chef’s Collaborative, or any number of options that come with unique and interesting stories. Who caught this fish and where? Add some locally sourced Sablefish and Rockfish from Morro Bay, Santa Barbara Spot Prawns, Uni Roe and oysters to your menu (and make sure your menu descriptions are as mouth watering as your recipes).
We’ve got such a wide range of seafood options you’ll have no problem reaching any type of consumer. Let us know how we can help you diversify your selection!
We’re now offering a great new Alaska cod option perfect for a variety of menu options at an unbeatable price!
And it’s not just a good deal – it comes with a great story.
Village Cove Alaska Cod (COD281) is “pot caught” which is good for the ocean and even better for the quality of the fish! The cod are lured into the pot/trap using bait, and they remain inside the trap until they’re harvested. Bringing live fish onboard the vessel where they are quickly poke bled and placed in refrigerated sea water results in a very high quality product. This is some of the nicest cod we’ve ever worked with!
The vessels that are fishing for Village Cove are making short trips and the cod they harvest is quickly prepared for freezing (bellies trimmed, collars and tails removed). This cod has an amazing yield!
Additionally, this cod is harvested as part of the Western Alaska Community Development Quota (CDQ) Program. According to NOAA, “The purpose of the program is to provide western Alaska communities the opportunity to participate and invest in BSAI fisheries, to support economic development in western Alaska, to alleviate poverty and provide economic and social benefits for residents of western Alaska, and to achieve sustainable and diversified local economies in western Alaska.”
Ask your Santa Monica Seafood Representative about Village Cove Alaska Cod today!
We just heard from our friends at the Alaska King Crab Research, Rehabilitation and Biology Program that Kodiak red king crab have been successfully reared at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery for release experiments!
According to this month’s News Flash,
“AKCRRAB researchers reared red king crab larvae at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish hatchery this spring. The goals of the rearing season were to produce juveniles for outplanting research and to further test and refine hatchery protocols. Akhiok residents collected adult female crabs in fall 2013 from Alitak Bay on Kodiak Island in cooperation with NOAA Kodiak lab staff, who shipped the crabs to the hatchery in Seward.
After hatching in March, larvae were fed two different diets and reared in six 1200 liter rearing tanks at a density of 50 larvae per liter. One larval diet consisted of enriched Artemia (brine shrimp) alone while the other was a mixed diet of enriched Artemia and two species of microalgae (Thalassiosira weissflogii and Chaetoceros muelleri). Survival to the glaucothoe (last larval) stage was greater than 50% for both diets, averaging 59% ± 6% standard error in tanks fed enriched Artemia alone, compared to 52% ± 2% survival in the tanks fed the mixed diet. Larval rearing temperature averaged 9°C, and rearing period to the glaucothoe stage was 27 days.
Overall, 199,920 glaucothoe were produced. The glaucothoe and juveniles are currently being reared at the hatchery, and the juveniles will be shipped to Kodiak this summer for release experiments.”
We love king crab and are invested in the future of this delicious resource through our support of AKCRRAB’s research via our RSVP Program.
(Image of Kodiak red king crab larvae produced at the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery in spring 2014 courtesy of Ginny Eckert)
Smoked meats are big business for restaurants – and as summer approaches, now is the right time to think about adding some smoked items to your menu! But, we’d like to encourage you to think beyond ribs and chicken and add some smoked seafood to the mix.
Feel like smoking your own? You’re in good company! Nation’s Restaurant News writes:
At the two Bubby’s in downtown New York City, whole animals are purchased and butchered in-house and then pit-smoked over cherry wood or apple wood.
“Pit-smoked barbecue has many lovable qualities,” owner Ron Silver said. “People love the sweet, spicy and tangy crust, also known as bark, that forms around the meat while it slowly cooks over the smoky wood. And, of course, the smoky flavor.”
We’re more than happy to guide you through our whole fish options – perfect for smoking in house!
Don’t have the space/time/personnel for in-house butchering or smoking? No problem. Order up some of your favorite fish (fillets or portions) and add a smokey touch via seasonings! There’s a multitude of smoked salts on the market, along with spice blends that can add an authentic flavor to any recipe.
Or, even easier, ask your Santa Monica Seafood Sales Rep about our smoked seafood options. We have a wide variety of choices for every menu and budget. Traditional hot smoked salmon, flavored choices, smoked shellfish – it’s a pretty long list. We’re sure you’ll find a way to offer your customers smoked seafood this spring - let us know what’s smokin’ up your menu!
Hope you had a fantastic Mother’s Day weekend! You have a couple days to catch your breath before the Copper River wild salmon season opens on May 15th – we’ll hope to have fish in the house from that opener a few days after… We’re always anxious about the weather this time of year, obviously it can cause problems for the fishermen as well impact flights leaving the region. As always, we remind you to practice patience and flexibility (same goes for anyone longing for soft shells… they are coming too)!
Copper River Sockeye and Kings are some of the most publicly anticipated seasonal seafood options – your guests are waiting for them! Make the most of the great name recognition these salmon have. They’re not the least expensive fish in our inventory but your customers will recognize this fish by name and are willing to pay top dollar!
What makes these fish so special? Many claim it’s the nature of the river they are returning to, and the Copper River is particularly difficult to navigate. Therefore, these salmon are bulked up and fatty in preparation for their journey when they are caught. Quality is the goal – fishermen make short sets so that fish can be pulled from the nets live and bled fully and quickly. Plenty of ice and many trips back to town or to a tender to deliver ensure that this Copper River salmon is delivered at the highest quality possible.
The Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute has plenty of information to get you and your staff ready to take advantage of this wonderful spring seafood item.
Stay in touch with us for delivery info… Keep up with us on Facebook or check in with your Santa Monica Seafood sales representative. Or, you can always peek at the Alaska Department of Fish and Game’s website – it’s got a lot of good information.
Mother’s Day is coming up, and as we’re fond of reminding you – it’s the #1 day for dining out of the year! The flower market also goes crazy (which can cause shipping issues for fresh seafood out of South America – sort of a cargo war between perishables…)
So, we have a few bits of advice for you.
- Help us help you! Talk to your Santa Monica Seafood rep early this week about what’s going to be looking good for the weekend. We have the ability to forecast out further on some items, and your rep can let you know what those are. In general, farmed fish are more consistent than wild ones, and the closer to home any seafood is caught or harvested, the better.
- Ask to see our Mother’s Day Specials Sheet if you haven’t already. We put together a great selection of deals on some awesome items – your rep can email or fax you a copy today.
- Order early – especially when it comes to frozen items. If you need frozen seafood, order it today! No sense waiting until Friday when you’re going to be busy (and so are we).
- Offer plenty of healthy choices (that don’t scrimp on flavor!). We talked about this last week, and the coming weekend is a great chance to put it into practice. With so many seafood options available to pair with a spring bounty of local fruits and vegetables – you can’t miss!
- Relax and have fun. We all know that being prepared means we can enjoy the moment. Mother’s Day is a chance for us all to celebrate – make sure you have the time and energy to do it right!
Let us know what’s on your Mother’s Day menu!
It’s looking like we’ll have more Soft Shell Crabs available in time for Mother’s Day (and maybe sooner)! The water temperatures are warming, the crabs have started to shed their shells, and watermen are out harvesting. We did receive a small shipment this past week – hope those of you that jumped on that first order enjoyed your crabs!
Just a few reminders about ordering soft shell crabs which we bring in fresh, on a pre-order basis only. In order to make sure we deliver the best quality possible, please stick with this ordering schedule:
Once you’ve got your size, style and amount figured out, set up an ordering schedule with your sales rep. Pre-orders full trays on the following schedule (NO MONDAY OR TUESDAY DELIVERIES):
- Order by Friday for Wednesday Delivery
- Order by Monday for Thursday Delivery
- Order by Tuesday for Friday Delivery
And a quick reminder on how softshells are packed:
- Hotels / Fresh – 30 each per tray or Dressed – 60 each per tray
- Primes / Fresh – 24 each per tray or Dressed - 48 each per tray
- Jumbos / Fresh – 18 each per tray or Dressed – 36 each per tray
Because of the delicate nature of Soft Shells you must pre-order! Making sure your Santa Monica Seafood Representative knows you’re going to be ordering softshells this season will help ensure timely delivery, especially for Mother’s Day!
In a recent post on FSR.com, the “Critical Insights Double Agent” offers up some useful advice on “how to provide healthy food while maintaining quality and interest, and without making your customers feel like they’re being any less pampered.” We feel strongly that seafood is one of the healthiest protein choices you can put on your menu; here are a few more ideas from the post:
Increase the vegetable count on your menu. Move beyond salads and sides and start featuring main courses that are vegetable-focused, vegetable based soups and other choices. And don’t be afraid to add lesser-known vegetables to the mix – customers appreciate the chance to try something they wouldn’t normally cook at home. Feature something seasonal, like ramps or fiddleheads.
Be versatile – try some of those new healthy grains out there! What about a side of freekah with that gorgeous wild Halibut you just got in? Or why not add some MSC Certified Oregon Bay Shrimp to a farro salad?
The Critical Insights Double Agent would love to see the focus move from “fat free” to simply enjoying naturally low fat ingredients for what they are – delicious! Seafood is easily enhanced by citrus – which is low in fat and delicious! Fresh squeezed oranges, lemons and limes bring a healthy punch to any seafood entree. We see lots of other delicious seafood and fruit combinations out there too – work some pineapple, mango or peaches into your next fish dish!
It’s all about balance – no one is suggesting you move to a non-fat, all-vegan menu (certainly not us!) but balancing out rich dishes with lighter touches and offering healthy choices throughout the menu will keep all your customers satisfied, every time they come in.
It’s Kentucky Derby Week! To most people it’s all about the horses (or maybe the hats…) but what are we looking forward to? The annual Skuna Bay Salmon Kentucky Derby Chef Challenge! After multiple rounds of cook-offs held across the country over the last couple of months the competing chefs have been narrowed down to two finalists.
You can see how the competition played out here, but in the end there were only two chefs left standing: Chef Edward Sura of Perennial Virant in Chicago and Chef Sarah Schafer, of Irving Street Kitchen in Portland.
Don’t worry though, California will be well-represented by Chef Andrew Sutton, Signature Chef of Disney Resorts, who has been picked to be one of this year’s Finals Judges! Chef Sutton was last year’s Skuna Bay Kentucky Derby Chef Challenge Runner Up and Finalist and he brings his experience and unique vantage point to this years competition.
May the best Chef win!
It’s been a busy spring so far for a number of organizations that we support with RSVP Funding. Here’s an overview of some of the action!
- Derelict Gear Removal – This is the time of year when the weather calms down enough for the Northwest Straits Foundation’s Derelict Gear Removal project to really get going on removing abandoned fishing nets and crab pots. They’ve had a busy past two months, conducting a total of 16 days of net removal off Salmon Bank, Lopez Island, Cypress Island, Rosario Strait, south San Juan and Guemes Island, Lummi Island, Alden Bank and Hood Canal. 48 derelict nets have been removed so far!
- Fathom Consulting’s Pelagic Trawl Gear Improvement was just awarded a 320K grant from NOAAs Saltonstal-Kennedy program to conduct a full benthic survey, further building upon the support they get from Santa Monica Seafood.
- The Central California Fisheries Research Project (CCFRP) is getting geared up for the summer 2014 research season, booking charter trips and getting volunteer anglers to help them catch fish to tag! If you live in the area and would like to get involved with the volunteer angler program, click here.
- The World Wildlife Fund Peruvian Mahi FIP has set up an observer program for the 2014 season in Paita, and is working towards a mid-year progress meeting in August and the creation of the national Mahi management group in September. Check out this cool video that WWF Peru has produced on the Paita Mahi fishery!
- Heal the Bay’s Key to the Sea program has educated 111 new teachers through the Key to the Sea professional development program. These newly trained teachers translate into thousands of students from all over the Los Angeles area. At of the end of February, Key to the Sea had brought 3358 students to the beach (many for the first time) and another 3000 students are scheduled to come this spring!
Thanks to those of you that work with us to help support positive change in our industry!
Although you might not care that teenagers prefer Nike over Converse, we bet you will be interested to learn that for the first time EVER in the history of Piper Jaffray’s “Teen Spending Survey” teens are spending as much money on food as they are on clothing!
It’s not surprising that most of that money is going to Starbucks, but we still found it interesting… and it leads us to believe that some of those teens like seafood and are willing to spend their (or their parents) money on it. Kids of all ages are growing more and more sophisticated when it comes to their dining habits, and enjoying a whole roasted sea bass or a plate of crab cakes is becoming as normal to them as sipping on an Iced Venti Carmel Macchiatto.
Don’t underestimate the power of teens when it comes to your bottom line.
Whether your offering a prom-focused special this spring (hopefully featuring some seasonal seafood), adding all-ages hand crafted non-alcoholic drinks to your program or advertising in teen-focused publications, the teen market is looking for a place to eat!
They are also obsessed with social – spruce up that Facebook page and make sure your Instagram account is up-to-date!
Let us know how you’re creatively capturing a bit of the teen market in our comments section.
More hopeful news for all of you who are following the Bristol Bay/Pebble Mine story - global mining giant Rio Tinto has just announced that it is pulling out of the Pebble Mine project which ranks among the largest undeveloped copper deposits in the world.
According to this article from McClatchyDC.com, “project developer Northern Dynasty Minerals is vowing to push on despite the controversies and continual setbacks”.
British mining company Anglo American pulled out of the project late last year.
We’ve supported the fight to protect Bristol Bay through our RSVP Project, and we’ll continue to stay involved. Bristol Bay is home to one of the planet’s richest wild salmon fisheries and we believe it should remain protected. To join the fight to Save Bristol Bay, check out SaveBristolBay.org
Restaurant Business just published their “Top 12 tips from the Restaurant Leadership Conference” and one in particular caught our eye:
“Tell your story. Millennials in particular want to know who you are and how you got there. They want to meet your brand, not just use it.”
We also shared a great blog post from Morsel called “The Power of Storytelling for Chefs and Restaurants” on our Facebook page the other day that expounded on that same message. The author writes:
“And so, the lesson — we don’t remember lists of ingredients in a tweet. So, if you post some food porn and the ingredients, no one will remember those ingredients. You’ve given your followers nothing to remember, nothing to connect with, nothing that resonates.
Now, if you tell the stories of your food — you and your food will be remembered. In fact, neurologists have determined that stories are up to 22 times more memorable than facts alone.”
We love this idea – mainly because seafood comes loaded with stories! Right now we’re excited about beautiful spring kings coming down from Oregon. These are troll caught salmon, harvested one at a time by fishermen working on small boats – sometimes even fishing by themselves. Imagine those big kings, massing to feed on schools of herring and other small fish gathering by the ton, a story as old as spring itself! They’re fattening up, getting ready for their spawning run and are what we call “Ocean Bright” meaning they are at the peak of their life-cycle – strong and full flavored and just bursting with rich and healthy fat. Trolling is one of the fussiest fisheries, with fish landed still alive, one-at-a-time, and bled and iced quickly resulting in unmatched quality. It’s not a volume fishery, so these fish aren’t cheap – but use their seasonal story to connect with your customers and when they bite into that fish we guarantee they won’t be disappointed!
The story of seafood – let us know how we can help you tell it!
We just received an update from the ACKRRAB project (one of our RSVP funding recipients) on some research they’ve been doing to study the potential impacts of ocean acidification on red king crabs.
According to their report,
“NOAA researchers at the Kodiak Laboratory used red king crabs from the Alutiiq Pride Shellfish Hatchery, from eastern Bering Sea broodstock, in an experiment on the effects of ocean acidification. Red king crab may be vulnerable to ocean acidification because their shells are made of calcium carbonate, which can dissolve in acidic waters.”
The experiment measured how newly settled crabs reacted to different pH levels. They tested crabs in water that approximated current oceanic conditions, as well as water with a pH of 7.8 (expected global average by the year 2100), and water with a pH of 7.5 (expected by 2200).
As you might expect, the crabs were negatively impacted by the changes in pH, either exhibiting slower growth weights or dying. According to the researchers,
“The reduced survival and growth at lower pH means that ocean acidification could have substantial negative effects on the populations of red king crab and crab fisheries within the next 100 years. Further research will consider daily and seasonal fluctuations in pH naturally experienced by crab throughout their life history.”
You can learn at the AKCRRAB website.