EPA’s final assessment of Pebble Mine, Tom Douglas rallies

The saga continues – and no, this isn’t a movie. This month, the EPA released its final assessment of the proposed Pebble Mine in Bristol Bay, Alaska (and it’s a damning assessment at that!). The report concluded that Pebble Mine could destroy up to 94 miles of streams where the salmon spawn and migrate – and 5,350 acres of wetlands, ponds, and lakes. The science is clear: mining and salmon do not mix. 

We’ve been following this story, and engaging with the movement to stop Pebble Mine, for years. And we’re thrilled to report that the steady pressure from chefs and food professionals raising their collective voice to say no to Pebble Mine has been critical. It helps lawmakers do the right thing. Thank you. 

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Tom Douglas speaking at the rally. Photo credit: TomDouglas.com

Last week, a rally also went down in Seattle, WA to keep the pressure on stopping Pebble Mine. On January 23, Washington Senator Maria Cantwell and more than 250 chefs and food professionals – including Tom Douglas – stood together to demand that the Obama administration prevent Pebble Mine from destroying Bristol Bay, Alaska.

The rally brought together “salmon fishermen and their families, mechanics and engineers who build parts for the fishing boats that travel north to Alaska each summer,  Native American tribe members from southern Alaska and around Seattle, environmental activists,  salmon processors and food distributors, patrons of restaurants and consumers who have eaten and loved salmon, and of course… Tom Douglas.” (excerpt from TomDouglas.com.) Participants spoke about why Pebble Mine would affect them, and their families and work. You can read more about the rally on Tom’s blog here.

This rally could not come at a critical time. For while we can feel good knowing the EPA is well aware of the negative impacts of Pebble Mine, the fate of Bristol Bay is far from secure. Until the final ruling is made, it is more important than ever that we keep steady pressure on our lawmakers, and the Obama administration, to prevent Pebble Mine from destroying the pristine waters of Bristol Bay.

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Save the Date for the 2014 Sustainable Food Summit!

Chefs Collaborative is thrilled to bring the 6th Sustainable Food Summit to Boulder, Colorado from September 28-30!

bouldercvb1Things you might not know about Boulder:

Meat will be front and center in Boulder as we explore the threads of environmental and human health in this hotbed of innovation and sustainability. The local chef and professional food community has already begun to plan an incredible welcome, which will include farm dinners out on the range and food with a new point of view. We’re planning hands-on “kitchen breakout” sessions in local restaurants with nationally-known chefs and experts, and keynotes from chef and sustainability leaders. Tickets go on sale in a few months – stay tuned!

Feel free to share your ideas and thoughts for sessions and speakers with Alisha Fowler, Program and Marketing Director. See you in September!

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

[VIDEO] Is it summer yet? Watermelon Rind Pickles

Is it summer yet!?

Well, not quite, but Chef Jay Pierce from Lucky 32 Southern Kitchen in Greensborough and Cary, NC, is talking up his contribution to The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook - our fantastic cookbook authored by Ellen Jackson and Chefs Collaborative published by Taunton Press. His recipe, Watermelon Rind Pickles, is a refreshing Southern staple. And it gives us hope that warmer weather will soon be on the horizon.

In the video below, Chef Pierce talks about how the recipe embodies his approach to sustainability: waste not, want not. The tangy recipe blends ginger, lemon, and allspice berries for a sweetly sharp pickle. Remember this easy trick after your watermelon-filled summer parties, we can’t wait to try it out!

Posted by: Hayley Fager

A delicious way to start the New Year: Wayne Johnson’s Spicy Calamari

Chef Wayne Johnson, Executive Chef at Ray’s Boathouse in Seattle, WA, contributed a delicious seafood recipe to The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook, authored by Ellen Jackson and Chefs Collaborative, published by Taunton Press.

The chef’s recipe is for Spicy Calamari with Tomatoes and Saffron Aioli.  This simple recipe is good for any home cook, and the saffron aioli combined with the lemon and chile flavors of the calamari add a kick to this tasty dish.  With a few slices of toasted bread and some peppery watercress, serve it as a small appetizer or a light lunch or dinner.

Here’s a video of Chef Johnson describing his dish, and what makes it unique: 

Posted by: Hayley Fager

Happy New Year! Sustainable Resolutions

As we rang in 2014 with family and friends this week, our team had some time to reflect on our work, and what motivates us all year long.

happy-new-year-wallpaperI know that one major driver of our work is that we are all committed to building a more sustainable food landscape. We want to help create a world where quality ingredients are commonplace, instead of the exception. Personally, one of my new years resolutions is to learn as much as I can about the misuse of antibiotics in animal production, so that we can best support you all as we take action on this issue together.

And all this reflection made me want to ask you: do you have a New Years Resolution about food, sustainability, and ideally both? We’d love to hear it!

Please share your New Years Resolution below, or post your resolution on Twitter and tag us @chefscollab!

Happy New Year,

The Chefs Collab. Team

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

FDA Announces Action on Antibiotics. Is it Enough?

You may remember that earlier this year, more than 500 chefs in our network helped send a strong message to Chef Sam Kass at the White House. We asked him to continue to be a leader on the issue of antibiotics.

This week, the US Food and Drug Administration announced a new set of policies that could start to rein in antibiotics misuse on factory farms.

Thank youYour collective voices helped the FDA take a step, which is a really big move on their part and their first definitive action in more than 40 years.

But, there is still a lot of work to be done to stop overuse of antibiotics in animals.Antibiotics misuse is running wild, and the industry standard for the treatment of animals is far from humane, healthy, or environmentally sustainable.

Rancher Bill Niman put it well when he remarked that right now, we have a situation where “people who are not doing things correctly need to use antibiotics prophylactically to replace good animal husbandry.”

Not only do we need to change the way we use antibiotics in animal production to protect human health (the CDC linked the routine use of antibiotics in farm animals to human deaths), doing away with prophylactic use of antibiotics in animals could lead to better practices overall.

This is a critical issue for chefs who care about sustainability. To learn more about how antibiotics misuse affects you, you can download a one-page fact-sheet we put together with the help of Pew Charitable Trusts.

There is one silver lining to all of this, though: unlike other global challenges like climate change, we know we can solve this problem. We’ll be in touch early in the New Year about our plans to leverage your influence to end antibiotic misuse!

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Our Top 20…

For two decades we’ve worked together to transform the food system and raise chefs’ voices across the country. As we enter the final days of our 20th year, we want to share the 20 things we are most thankful for in 2013.

(Please give us 21 things to be thankful for with your end-of-year gift!) 

Members of the Knoxville Local gather around a whole hog butchering demonstration at the Plaid Apron Café.

1. Chefs committed to their communities. Local leaders all over the country are bringing community-minded chefs together through our Local Networks, chefs who want to share skills and resources, break bread, and change the status quo. Go BostonRhode IslandNew HampshirePortland (Oregon), SeattleKnoxvilleAtlantaMemphisDes Moines, and Charlotte! (Let us know if you want to start something near you.)

2. Southern hospitality. Can you say OYSTER ROAST? We were blown away by the awesome welcome we got from the chef and food community when the Sustainable Food Summit landed in Charleston, SC this fall. And to our host committee, thank you, you were there at every turn.

3. Pimento cheese. Because we can’t get enough. Who really can?

4. Rhymes with duck. Who doesn’t appreciate a well-placed cuss, especially the ones dropped by our Board Chair, Chef Michael Leviton?Michael is the walking, chopping, swearing embodiment of our mission.
5. Our badass Board. They are a force to be reckoned with. Even the ones who might not use Michael’s colorful language (and there aren’t too many that don’t), the chefs and experts on our Board have the smarts, the talent and the passion to lead the revolution to transform our food system. Meet our Board of Overseers.

6. Our philanthropic and corporate partners. What can we say? You can’t drive a car without gas in the tank… an effusive thanks to The David and Lucile Packard Foundation, Bristol Bay Regional Seafood Development Association, Pew Charitable Trusts, Niman Ranch, Organic Valley, Anolon, Compass Group, Monterey Bay Aquarium, and all of our sponsors!

7. Shutting down the bad guys in AK. Chefs heeded our call to action to put Bristol Bay sockeye salmon on their menus this summer, and kept the threat of Pebble Mine in the news. One of the major investors also pulled out of Pebble Mine. Woo hoo! The fight’s not over but we’re giving them a wallop.

8. Rick Bayless. A vital member of the Chefs Collaborative old guard, who recently remarked, “Just as necessary as when we first began 20 years ago, Chefs Collaborative continues to reinvent itself to tackle the challenges that need to be met head on. I’m so proud to be part of this organization.”

9. Chefs who want to tell the White House the way it is. More than 500 chefs responded decisively to our call to action to let our friend at the White House, Sam Kass, know how we feel – overuse of antibiotics in meat production is killing us. Thank you also to Pew Charitable Trusts for putting your resources behind this issue.

10. The staff that could. The four hardworking staff members (and lovely interns), whose combined talents and hard work helped to forge chef-to-chef connections, supported Locals, kept interesting content on the website, planned Trash Fish Dinners, leveraged chef voices in the news, and put on an annual Summit…

11. The visionaries. Hats off to our founders, who knew that chefs could be influential in getting the world to pay attention to the concept of “sustainability.”

12. Trash Fish on FIRE. With a name meant to provoke interest in the under-appreciated sustainable species, Trash Fish debuted in Boston last March, setting off a Trash Fish frenzy. Chefs Collaborative Trash Fish Dinners took place in Chicago, Las Vegas, and Portland, OR. Not to mention a number of spin-off events, and a front page article in The Wall Street Journal! Coming soon: New York, New Hampshire, and Washington, DC…

13. Chef humor. Just watch:

14. The Chefs Collaborative Cookbook. Because you ain’t got street cred unless you’ve got a cookbook. With 115 recipes from member chefs, it makes an excellent holiday gift… hint hint.

15. Boulder, Colorado. During the 2013 Summit in Charleston, Boulderites Sara Brito, Bradford Heap, Kelly Whitaker and Eric and Jill Skokan did their homework for our 2014 Summit, which will be in Boulder next fall. Thanks in advance to chef Hugo Matheson and Sylvia Tawse for co-chairing the Boulder host committee and to the Boulder community. We can’t wait!

16. Sustainability stars. The 2013 Sustainability Awards went to chef Rick Bayless, National Sustainer; chef Anne Quatrano, Sustainer Southeast; Will Harris, Southeast Foodshed Champion; and Glenn Roberts, Pathfinder. We’re in awe of what they do.

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Photo: Carolina Photosmith

17. Whole pastramied lamb. Because who does that? Craig Deihl of Cypress in Charleston, SC. That’s who.

18. Your kooky creativity. While we have our wonky standouts like Portland Oregon’s “It ain’t all Crappie” Trash Fish Supper and the New Hampshire Local’s nearly indescribable musical revue, featuring original songs written and sung by chefs and a board member dressed like a gypsy, there isn’t enough space to share all of the menus, field trips, gatherings, and stories from our members. Chefs are a creative crew, and we can’t wait to see what you do in 2014.

19. Our core! We simply cannot thank our members enough! Chefs Collaborative is a membership organization and your involvement is vital if we want to change the food system together. Thank you (and it is not too late to become a member in 2013).

20. YOU. It all comes down to you. You change the ingredients, the menus, the conversation that will fix our broken system. Thank you for being a part of our community.

21. Your gift. Make us the happiest non-profit in the world this holiday with a tax-deductible gift of any size.

All the best for the holidays and a happy New Year! And cheers to 2014 – let’s transform the food system together.

The Chefs Collaborative Team

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Weekly Member News Round-Up 12/2-8

Chefs Collaborative members do amazing work every day – check out our weekly members news link round-up to see what’s going on around the country:

  • Hale Aina Happenings: celebrating local food (Martha Cheng, Honolulu Magazine, 12.2.13) Peter Merriman reflects on the 25 years since he opened his Waimea restaurant, and he comments that he is still surprised by what his “farmers keep producing and innovating.”
  • Dock to Dish: A Full Circle of Awesome (Liza de Guia, food. curated., 12.3.13) Meet Sean Barrett and learn about his organization Dock to Dish, the first community supported fishery in Long Island.
  • Restoring Porkopolis (Ilene Ross, CityBeat, 12.4.13) Ilene Ross writes about how pork has become an important player in the culinary scene and about the relevance of nose-to-tail dining.

With the holidays fast approaching, here are some examples of our members giving back:

  • Naples Winter Wine Fest announces 2014 chefs (Amy Sowder, News-Press, 12.7.13) Bill Telepan and Michael Anthony will be cooking at the Naples Winter Wine Festival, which has in its first 13 years raised over $110 million to help children in Collier County.

Also, look out for the 2014 Farmer-Fisher-Chef Connection put on by the Seattle Chefs Collaborative that will take place February 24th from 8:30 AM to 6:30 PM at the Seattle Central Culinary Academy.

Posted by: Chefs Collaborative

Less Can Be More

This is a guest post by member chef Hari Pulapaka, Chef at Cress Restaurant in Deland, Florida. 

As chefs, we are driven by the ingredients, seasons, culture, and to some degree, personal preferences. Ingredients like Kobe beef, white truffles, and foie gras, which are found on a wide range of restaurant menus offer decadence and “exclusivity.”

As a chef, you have to really try to make these ingredients sub-par. It’s like being dealt a Royal Flush in a game of poker. But the fact of the matter is that the vast majority of the world’s population will never have an opportunity to partake in a meal that includes such ingredients.

What is equally true is that as plush as some of these ingredients can be, there are a greater number of lesser-regarded ingredients that are often overlooked by professionals and amateurs alike.

kitchenRecently, we featured some “lesser” Florida fish at a very special dinner at Cress Restaurant. Inspired by the Trash Fish dinners hosted by Chefs Collaborative in Boston, Chicago, Las Vegas, and Portland (OR), we created a seven-course dinner not including an amuse bouche and intermezzo with wine pairings.

And the price of the dinner: $50 per person, all-inclusive! Mike and Tony of Mike and Tony’s Seafood provided all the fish at their cost which was a whopping $177.

As a comparison, a mere ounce of white Alba truffle is usually significantly more expensive. The dinner was attended by 32 guests and we had plenty of fish left over.

Yes, but how did it all taste you ask?

Some comments from our foodie guests included “Delicious”, “Inspiring”, “Tasty”, and “Imaginative.” As a chef, we really cannot ask for much more in terms of validation for we do. On the menu, were lesser known and commercially sold fish like Butterfish, Croaker, Jack Crevale, Black Mullet, Sheepshead, and Sea Trout. Each fish variety is unique in taste, texture, and yield which provides an opportunity to be creative and thoughtful.

Butterfish at the event

Butterfish at the event

As professional chefs, we must embrace these lesser ingredients in the name of sustainability, affordability, and creativity. We are already planning “lesser vegetables, “lesser meats”, and “lesser grains” at Cress Restaurant. It is truly an exciting time to be a chef!

Click here for more information about the menu for the Lesser Florida Fish Dinner

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Hari Pulapaka is a two-time James Beard nominated chef who serves on the Advisory Board of The Chef Action Network, a non-profit organization that connects chefs to tools and resources that will help them create significant and lasting change in their communities, the country and the world. CAN is focused on harnessing the power of America’s preeminent chefs in support of a strong, sustainable, just and healthy food system. He and his wife Jenneffer, a podiatric surgeon own and run Cress restaurant in DeLand, FL. Hari also has a Ph.D. in Mathematics from the University of Florida and is a full-time tenured Associate Professor of Mathematics at Stetson University in DeLand, FL.

Posted by: Alisha Fowler

Honoring Judy Rodgers

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Photo credit: Kim Kulish for The Los Angeles Times

We are saddened to hear about the passing of Judy Rogers, longtime chef at Zuni Cafe in San Francisco. She was a true luminary, and a former member of Chefs Collaborative. You can read a wonderful tribute to her in the LA Times.

Judy Rodgers nurtured a generation of cooks and her presence in the community will be sorely missed. For more than 25 years at her iconic San Francisco restaurant, it was all about attention to detail – both in terms of the quality of ingredients and the techniques used to prepare them. The result was always simple, delicious and beautiful food.”

- Michael Leviton, Board Chair of Chefs Collaborative; chef/owner of Lumiere in Newton, MA and chef/co-owner of Area Four in Cambridge, MA.

Do you have a memory of Judy Rodgers, or of cooking her iconic Zuni Cafe roasted chicken? Please feel free to leave a memory in the comments below.

Posted by: Alisha Fowler