Last year chef Ned Bell launched the Chefs for Oceans Foundation and rode his bike 8,700 km across Canada in a bid to raise awareness of sustainable seafood and healthy lakes, rivers and oceans. Executive chef at Vancouver’s Four Seasons and YEW Seafood + Bar, Ned Bell believes passionately in educating diners on seafood sustainability and introducing them to delicious Ocean Wise alternatives. “People come to BC and they are looking for the west coast experience,” says Ned. “ I’d love them to start looking beyond wild salmon and enjoy some more of our rock-star sustainable seafoods!”
Vancouver is leading the wave of change to a more sustainable diet when it comes to seafood. Explains Bell, “I think it’s because we have that connection to the coast and the extraordinary seafood that we get to pull from our ocean. We’re recognized for our passion for the environment and a healthy lifestyle too.” Visitors to the city can’t help but notice restaurant menus proudly declaring the provenance of the ingredients that go into making their food. Living so close to nature has an effect on how you feel about the food on your plate: Vancouverites want to know what they’re eating won’t harm the natural environment around them, and that includes what comes from the sea.
Everyone can do their part, says Chef Ned, “You can become a member of Chefs for Oceans online which lets you be a part of the larger voice. Start to look out for Ocean Wise and Sea Choice logos which tell you that those fish are a sustainable choice to make. And ask that question: ‘Is it sustainable?’. If they can’t answer, you probably know it’s not. But the real act of support is having the information and then making that sustainable choice.”
Visitors new to the dining scene on the west coast may not be familiar with all our seafood and Ned thinks that along with the delicious wild salmon that we’re famous for, diners should try some of the ocean’s bounty that locals know and love. “I always say eating shellfish is a great way to know you’re eating sustainably; all shell-based fish are great for the ocean’s environment, they help the ocean more than any other seafood because they eat that water and then filter it out. I don’t think many people in the world get to eat our phenomenal clams, geoduck, mussels or oysters– and the ones we have here are some of the best in the world!”
Going beyond the ocean’s superheroes, the shellfish, there are also many other fish to sample, “Our rock-star fish!” smiles Bell, “Try sable fish, it only exists in our part of the Pacific Ocean and it’s a delicious rich oily fish that’s been made famous by one of our chefs, Tojo, who cooked it in a Miso glaze and now every Asian restaurant has that on the menu. If people want to try something lighter, our ling cod is a great alternative. Our albacore tuna is a fantastic example of an Ocean Wise sustainable fish; so many varieties of tuna are not sustainable, because they are a predator fish and we love to overfish those. The red tuna, for instance, is one of the most overfished on the planet, but Albacore being a smaller tuna, and faster growing is sustainable.”