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Chefs come together in support of healthy oceans

Published June 10, 2011

From Bob Ramin, Executive Director of the Aquarium's Washington, DC, Venue

The National Aquarium, Washington, DC, has been fortunate to partner with Chef Xavier Deshayes, the executive chef for the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, to host a series of sustainable seafood dinners that we call Fresh Thoughts.

As you read this, you may be thinking, why is an Aquarium hosting seafood dinners? The answer is simple. As a conservation organization, we are interested in helping people understand the meaning of sustainable seafood, and learn how to make sensible choices when it comes to purchasing and eating seafood. What better place to learn about fish practices than at an Aquarium? With these dinners, we bring people together for a delicious evening out among friends and give them an opportunity to learn from the experts.

Chef Xavier Deshayes is the lead chef for the dining series and has collaborated with guest chefs to offer a variety of compelling dining experiences featuring sustainable seafood. This Wednesday, we will welcome Chef Susan Delbert, executive chef at the National Press Club, for the final dinner of this first series. She will work side by side with Chef Xavier to present a dinner focused on local smart seafood choices, like rockfish and blue crab.

Perhaps the most compelling part of these dinners is the odd, yet very important, partnership that has blossomed as a result of these dinners. Chefs and biologists are coming together to learn from each other and really make a difference in the way the public views seafood.

In preparation for the upcoming dinner, Chefs Deshayes and Delbert have committed themselves to staying up to date on the latest advances in sustainable seafood aquaculture. Just a few weeks ago, the chefs took a tour of the University of Maryland Biotechnology Institute’s Center of Marine Biotechnology (COMB) with Dr. Yoni Zohar, director of COMB.  At the site, they were able to get a unique look at the most recent developments in aquaculture. The chefs explored the innovative methods that COMB employs to make seafood, such as the blue crabs and rockfish featured in the upcoming dinner, even more sustainable.

Dr. Zohar toured the chefs through the facility and touched on the various aquaculture practices successfully used to raise healthy and sustainable fish and crabs, while leaving almost no ecological footprint. COMB explores the sources of renewable energy produced in-house and looks at how to incorporate them into the daily operations of the center. Both chefs were so impressed with the commitment and passion of Dr. Zohar and his team that they are interested in working on future dinners with COMB.

These dinners would take sustainable practices one step further. Not only would the seafood served come from the aquaculture facility, but the chefs would also incorporate best practices into the kitchen operations and preparations prior to the dinner. At present, Chef Deshayes is brainstorming creative ways to cook sustainable dinners using alternative energy sources as seen in the facility.

To join the National Aquarium and our guest chefs on Wednesday for a gourmet meal to remember, call 202-789-2782 or visit for more details.

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