You know someone is passionate about a cause when they choose to promote it by biking over 8,000 kilometres across Canada in ten weeks. In this case, the chef is Ned Bell, renowned for his work at Vancouver’s Four Seasons Hotel and YEW seafood + bar and the cause is sustainable seafood.
Ned left St. John`s on July 1st and has ridden through the Maritimes and Quebec, logging anywhere from 100 to 190 km each cycling day, with stops along the route to participate in unique events for media and supporters. He landed in Ottawa on July 28 and collaborated with Chef Rene Rodriguez at his Navarra Restaurant to present an impressive five course seafood tasting menu, paired with Okanagan wines.
The message Chef Bell is promoting is clear and crucial: over-fishing, not using environmentally-responsible fishing methods, and not taking good care of our waterways will one day lead to a depletion of seafood. In partnership with Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program and SeaChoice, and with sponsorship from Ottawa’s Gusto TV, Bell established this Chefs for Oceans campaign to promote sustainable seafood so we can enjoy the bounty of the sea now and in the future.
OceanWise has already certified 27 restaurant and retail locations in Ottawa, including Navarra; these businesses are serving or selling products which are abundant and resistant to fishing pressures as well as being harvested in appropriate quantities using sustainable methods.
Chef Bell conceived of Chefs for Oceans three years ago while attending a national Chef`s Congress in Halifax. “As chefs, we celebrate our communities, regions provinces but we don’t always do things on a national level,” he explained.
“I recognized that many chefs shared similar concerns and we have a unique opportunity to raise awareness about sustainable seafood,” said Bell. “Seafood is an integral part of Canada`s history and heritage and I want to ensure it is available for generations to come.” He hopes that his ride generates awareness and that when looking at seafood options on restaurant menus, people will start asking, “is it sustainable?”
Chef Rodriguez supported his colleague’s message, noting that chefs always enjoy a strong connection through their shared passion for food. “The better we eat, the better we live, so you should always try to work with the best ingredients you can,” he noted. The plates presented at the Ottawa Chefs for Oceans event were a testament to both the skill of the chefs and the superlative flavour of sustainable Canadian seafood.