On July 22, Chef Mary Sue Milliken, Chef Susan Feniger, and Executive Chef Mike Minor of Border Grill teamed up with Rick Moonen of RM Seafood, Chef Tim Doolittle of Table 10 Las Vegas, Chef Jet Tila of Kuma Snow Cream and The Charleston, and Chef Michael Leviton of Lumiere and Area Four to put on a Trash Fish Dinner for more than 60 people at Border Grill Las Vegas.
The dinner featured delicious alternatives to the seafood we love and eat too much of, highlighting fish species that normally never make it to our dinner plates, largely because they are undervalued or discarded as bycatch.
Meet the chefs behind Trash Fish Las Vegas! Several Chefs Collab founding members in the mix. From L to R: Tim Doolittle of Table Ten Las Vegas, Chef Mary Sue Milliken of Border Grill, Chef Rick Moonen of Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood, Michael Passmore of Passmore Ranch, Mike Minor of Border Grill Las Vegas, Susan Feniger of Border Grill and Susan Feniger’s STREET, Chef Jet Tila of Kuma Snow Cream & The Charleston, and Michael Leviton of lumiere the restaurant and Area Four (and Chefs Collab board chair!)
Photo Credit: Big Tom Photography
Chef Mary Sue Milliken wrote an op/ed published in the Las Vegas Sun in advance of the dinner, noting that, “At the dinner, we will taste six to eight interesting and delicious seafood dishes and share amazing trash fish stories. The idea is not to over-promote any one species of fish. We don’t want to do what chefs did to Chilean sea bass years ago…Our hope is to increase awareness and help diners fall in love with some alternative, very plentiful and sustainable seafood.”
We were thrilled to work with these seven talented chefs. We’re proud to share that the dinner did not disappoint. The night began with cocktails (thanks American Harvest), and appetizers including Chef Mike Minor’s Grassy Bar oysters from Morro Bay and Chef Michael Leviton‘s blood clams on the half shell. Guests also started off with Northern California squid tempura – which featured fresh hand-cut squid, shishito peppers, soy ginger serrano glaze.
Chef Susan Feniger plates Trash Fish appetizers. Photo: Big Tom Photography
“It was an amazing night, with some of the top chefs getting together at Border Grill for a great cause. I was so proud to be hosting the first Trash Fish Dinner in Las Vegas,” said chef Mike Minor.
As everyone sat down to enjoy a multi-course meal, they began with grilled baby romaine with Pacific sardine croutons, and Chef Michael Leviton’s sea robin ceviche with corn cakes and cilantro crema.
Chef Mary Sue Milliken preps the grilled baby romaine with Pacific sardine croutons. Photo: Big Tom Photography
Other menu highlights included Border Grill’s Passmore Ranch sturgeon, which consisted of smoked sturgeon brandade with mashed potato, seared pea tendrils, and sturgeon caviar.
Border Grill’s Passmore Ranch Sturgeon: smoked sturgeon brandade, mashed potato, seared pea tendrils, sturgeon caviar. Photo: Big Tom Photography.
Chef Mike Minor in action during Trash Fish Las Vegas. Photo: Big Tom Photography
Chef Rick Moonen‘s bycatch bouillabase was also a clear favorite. Las Vegas Weekly reporter Sarah Feldberg had this to say about Rick Moonen’s dish, and the success of the dinner:
“Rick Moonen described his Bycatch Bouillabaise as a ‘methadone program’ for addicts of more widely known fish, but it was better than that. In fact, all of the food at the one-night-only collaborative dinner from Moonen, Border Grill chefs Mike Minor, Mary Sue Milliken and Susan Feniger, Boston-area chef Michael Leviton and Wynn-alum Jet Tila was fantastic…”
Chef Rick Moonen’s bycatch bouillabase. Photo: Big Tom Photography
The chefs had fun cooking together, and they also kept their eyes trained on the point behind the evening: “We’ve been passionate for years about preserving the health of our oceans and the variety of seafood for generations to come,” noted Chef Susan Feniger.
Guests enjoying one of many courses during Trash Fish Las Vegas. Photo: Big Tom Photography.
Before dessert, Sheila Bowman of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program spoke to the crowd about the seafood on the menu. She answered questions about the menu choices, and discussed the importance of diversifying our seafood choices.
Sheila Bowman of Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Program. Photo: Big Tom Photography
The evening ended with Chef Jet Tila’s TCHO Chocolate mint snow cream – with cocoa nibs, mochi, and taro drizzle (thank you TCHO).
We are beyond thrilled with the success of Trash Fish Dinners so far, and want to give a big thank you to our sponsors: Border Grill, Rick Moonen’s RM Seafood, Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, American Harvest, and TCHO Chocolate. It was a joy to bring the dinner series to Las Vegas and help convene chefs to highlight under-appreciated seafood species.
Stay tuned to hear where we’re headed next!