This week I’ll be talking about sustainable fisheries on CBC Radio One’s Alberta at Noon. In a related story, one of Calgary’s flashier downtown restaurants just announced an interesting new sustainable seafood program.
Catch and The Oyster Bar became the first seafood restaurant in Alberta to offer a 100% Ocean Wise™ menu last year and now they’ve added a completely Ocean Wise™ seafood market called buycatch (its a market by Catch where you buy the fish Catch carries but there’s no harmful bycatch – a term referring to birds and other species of fish inadvertently caught with unsustainable fisheries methods). The menu of offerings will change on a daily basis as their “Jet Fresh” supply arrives from the coasts of Canada. Ocean Wise™ provides consumers with the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean friendly sustainable seafood choice.
Here’s how the buycatch program will work.
Fresh seafood aficionados can follow @CatchCalgary #buycatch on Twitter to find out what the Jet Fresh 100% Ocean Wise™ offering is. It will change daily and seasonally.
A typical year might be Albacore Tuna in January and February, Sablefish in March April, Pacific Halibut, Spot Prawns and various species of salmon from spring through summer and swordfish, striped bass, and rock crab through the fall months. Arctic Char, long-line caught cod, scallops, mackerel, lake whitefish, hand ling caught haddock and rainbow trout are also Ocean Wise™ and may be featured.
They will also sell a few made-in-house meals. Pricing for fish will be based on the daily market price but an example is as follows:
Halibut | 5oz./140g | $11
Clam Chowder | $15 liter
Orders will be placed by calling 403-671-7214.
Pick up will be Monday through Friday between 1:30 – 9 p.m. at the buycatch market counter in The Oyster Bar at the corner of Stephen Avenue and Centre Street. Patrons arriving on foot or C-train can just pop in, pick up and go. Those arriving by car, may park in the complementary buycatch parking spot at the Hyatt Regency Calgary’s front drive.
Apparently, Catch has a loyal clientele interested in gaining access to both the quality of fish served at Catch and the assurance of it’s Ocean Wise™ status. This fish will be for their home cooking on days they are not eating at the restaurant. They want to hook up with the fish that bates their appetites.
To understand a bit more about why chef Groves and company would take on this project, it’s good to know a bit more about the chef and his experience and food philosophy.
chef Kyle Groves
Groves took over three years to convert Catch’s menu to its current 100% Ocean Wise™ status. Many restaurants have 100% Ocean Wise™ seafood choices on their menus but Catch is the only restaurant in Alberta to guarantee that every choice in their 100% seafood-centric menu is Ocean Wise™. Here’s a look at Catch’s menu so you’ll understand the deep-sea depth and beer-battered breadth of that commitment.
Groves took the reigns as executive chef at Catch in 2010 after working in Scotland and then at the Michelin-starred 1 Lombard Street and L’Escargot in London. He’s a great example of a SAIT culinary grad going full circle as he had worked on the line at Catch after graduating from SAIT and before going abroad.
That time away on distant shores was demanding but its legacy floats ashore in the patience, restraint and discipline that Groves exudes. On a recent visit to Catch, Groves sat relaxed and calm with his crisp chef’s whites in stark contrast to the chocolatey leather banquette we had slipped into to sit and get to know each other a bit.
Land and Sea
Catch’s menu overhaul took slow and gradual changes and constant education of staff and guests. Grove’s vision of supporting sustainable oceans with his buying capacity as a chef was crystal clear. It remained unfogged by the pressures of commanding a very busy and posh land-locked seafood restaurant. Setting up the buy catch market seems to signal he’s dropped anchor and upped the ante for sustainability in what fish is for sale in Calgary.
Like a good harbour pilot Groves guided me through kitchens and service elevators and up one final set of stairs to the rooftop of the neighbouring Hyatt Regency Calgary. Here I learned that this chef has respect for land as well as sea. Our destination was a sunlight patch of raised bed gardens and a secluded spot that will home for two beehives. This rooftop is both task master and refuge throughout the growing season.
Groves admits he could never grow enough produce for Catch and The Oyster Bar here but he still loves the excitement that caring for the garden generates in his staff. An elderly Chinese dishwasher helps him water each morning and the young line cooks learn a bit about what it takes to grow the ingredients featured on the menu. Everyone enjoys how much better ingredients taste when pulled fresh from earth – or rooftop raised-bed dirt in this case.
A few weeks pass and I see Groves dishing up wee bites of Albacore Tuna accented with sesame and zippy bits of watercress at a chef’s competition at the Calgary Farmers’ Market. All proceeds are going to the local food bank. Groves is smiling ear to ear and gives me a warm hello. He remembers me and asks how I’ve been.
Seems like Groves knows a bit about sustaining friendships as well as oceans and earth. I’d say he is someone who savours it all and that’s a very likeable quality. Hell, I think even Neptune would like him. As if being a great cook wasn’t enough.
Here’s a few photos to whet your appetite for a nice dinner at Catch or to see you set sail along Stephen Avenue to the new buycatch seafood market.