On 8 June, 2019, Relais & Châteaux will celebrate UN initiative World Oceans Day under the theme Fish Unknown: Diversify Your Plate. A symphony of the sea’s biodiversity, Fish Unknown will hero underappreciated, lesser-known species on Relais & Châteaux chefs’ menus, cooking classes, events, conferences, and more.
As an association of chefs striving to source to sustainable seafood year-round, this is a specific moment where Relais & Châteaux aims to heighten the public’s awareness of species that are abundant and underutilised – as well as delicious – in an effort to stop overfishing those that are threatened and endangered.
Shining light on the reality that there is more to seafood than noble, popular species like salmon, bass, tuna and shrimp and in partnership with Ethic Ocean, Relais & Châteaux chefs will hero wild species as well as sustainably farmed species that some diners may not have ever eaten before.
Relais & Châteaux chef ambassador and owner of Lympstone Manor, Michael Caines MBE said: “If I can help to educate and inspire a home cook, to source and prepare local, seasonal and relatively “unknown” fish like hake or gurnard instead of industrially-farmed salmon, then I consider this an achievement. As Relais & Châteaux Chefs, we have a duty to utilise and serve fresh, sustainable and seasonal produce; not only does it have a better flavor profile but we’re helping to safe-guard the future of eating.”
As top chefs are tastemakers, they have the power to inspire guests to diversify consumption and look at underutilised products in new ways. Chef Olivier Roellinger, Vice President of Relais & Châteaux, concurs: “Through a creative culinary approach, lesser-known and less noble species can become more fashionable – allowing the overfished to have a break and regain stock levels, and the underutilized to find a voice in top restaurants. Fishes are mainly consumed at restaurants: 55% in the US, 45% in the United Kingdom, 30% in France and 25% in Spain. This means that chefs’ choices make a considerable impact on the preservation of marine biodiversity.”
The oceans are currently overfished by 31% with 60% confirmed as fully fished (Food & Agriculture Organization) and therefore sensitivity in sourcing is urgent. Consideration to factors such as; seasonality, fish population and environmentally respectful catch or farming methods all provide a more sustainable approach.
Globally, other events marking World Oceans Day will include; a celebratory dinner at the acclaimed Beard House in New York City, USA on the June 4; an international conference at UNESCO in Paris, France on June 6 organized by UNESCO Intergovernmental Oceanographic Commission (IOC/UNESCO), Ethic Ocean and Relais & Châteaux: Ocean, Science, Environment and Actors of Change: Cooking and Preservation of the Ocean – testimonies from women chefs.
For Philippe Gombert, International President, “Restaurant guests experience the culinary culture and the local terroir of a Relais & Châteaux property via the plate. Through the celebration of Fish Unknown, guests may taste a dish featuring a fish they’ve rarely or have never eaten before.”
Details of all Fish Unknown dishes, menus and cooking classes across the Relais & Châteaux properties can be viewed here: https://events.relaischateaux.com/en/exquisite-fish/