In Washington in 2015, the James Beard Foundation launched Smart Catch, a program aimed at increasing the sustainability of the seafood supply chain, and today, the initiative is becoming available across the nation, with six-time James Beard award-nominee Cathy Whims (Nostrana, Oven and Shaker) leading the charge in Oregon on behalf of the Foundation.
In Washington, 118 restaurants have joined the cause. Perhaps Smart Catch will similarly catch on among Oregon restaurants, prompting the stronger relationship between Portland restaurants and the Oregon Coast many have longed for. "I know the person who raises my lamb. Why not my rockfish?” says Whims.
Firstly, Smart Catch lets consumers identify where sustainable seafood is sold: If you see the emblem in a restaurant window, you know its menu features more than 80-percent sustainable seafood. This comes at a time when the James Beard Foundation estimates “more than 90 percent of the world's fisheries are either fully fished of overfished.”
For chefs, the program brings especially powerful resources: Smart Catch is prepared to supply menu consultations, marketing support, current sustainability assessments by FishChoice.com, supplier vetting, and more — even a sort of seafood counselor, who can help chefs identify under-utilized local seafood and help them work more closely with suppliers. Interested chefs can find more details, including contact information, on the website.
Speaking with Eater, Whims says, "It's funny. We're close to the coast, but you always see the same seafood: albacore tuna, clams, crabs. I've always found the limited supplies very frustrating. Maybe fisher people will see this as an opportunity.”
Likewise, perhaps local chefs will find the tools they need to connect with sustainable fisheries with Smart Catch. It comes at a time when Portland’s seafood dining scene seems ripe for a sea change, as exciting seafood restaurants like Headwaters and the Roe brick and mortar are established.
- Smart Catch [Official]