Monday, January 25, 2010

Ocean Wise Turns 5 Media Dine-Around

Event: Ocean Wise Turns 5 Media Dine-Around
Date of event: January 23, 2010

The 1st Ocean Wise event I attended was the Seafood Chowder ChowDown last November. That was a great event, and this one was even better! This time I was invited to attend the Ocean Wise Turns 5 Media Dine-Around. It was a fully-hosted evening of culinary adventure and yes, I was quite jealous of myself!

First, I want to congratulate the success of Ocean Wise and wish them a happy 5th birthday.

Ocean Wise is Canada’s leading sustainable seafood program. In 2009 Ocean Wise welcomed over 120 partners and in April they brought the program national. Most likely you have seen the Ocean Wise symbol on your menu at one point or another. I could go on listing facts about the organization, but I won’t…that’s the point of having my media source being a blog…I have the freedom to write ;) (Yes, I know I have a little blog, but I like to think I have a bigger voice :D)

No, I’m not going to bash Ocean Wise because I do support what they’re doing. I respect that they don’t solicit restaurants to participate in their program. Instead they allow restaurants to approach Ocean Wise willingly. I think this is the way to advocate social change, give clients the freedom of choice. That being said, the other side of the argument is: is it fair when a restaurant only offers Ocean Wise to their diners and thus the diners are ‘forced’ to pay the extra dollars? Don’t the diners have a choice since they’re the ones that are paying?

Again, I do support Ocean Wise, but I just want to stir up some discussion. A reason why I support it is because Ocean Wise is promoting positive social change. In my definition “inappropriate fishing” shouldn’t even exist. Bottom line: if the method isn’t sustainable – change it. Ocean Wise is the long term solution and when all the fish is gone from over fishing everyone will really be paying more than the extra couple dollars.

Personally I think a lot lies in education. I think diners should want to choose Ocean Wise and not have to choose it because it’s the only option. Therefore I think there needs to be more initiatives on educating the public about the harms of overfishing, bycatch, and habitat destruction. Buying Ocean Wise is one thing, and knowing why you’re buying it is another.

Anyways, I am Follow Me Foodie, so let’s get back to the event and the food.

The event was a fully hosted evening that kicked off with a champagne reception at the Aquarium. From there we made a toast to 5th year anniversary for Ocean Wise and many of their achievements in 2009. This includes being the winner of the 2009 Pinnacle Award for Supplier of the Year!

We were all separated into groups and taken on a bus provided complimentary from Landsea Tours (sustainable transportation). The two restaurants we were going to be surprised with were 2 of Vancouver’s newest Ocean Wise restaurant partners. Can’t you feel my excitement?! The following list is Vancouver’s newest Ocean Wise Restaurant partners. The ones in bold were the restaurants I got to visit.


Aria Restaurant and Lounge - Westin Downtown, Vancouver BC

Burrard Bridge Marine Bar and Grill, Vancouver BC

The District, North Vancouver BC

The Edge Bistro, North Vancouver BC

Fraiche , West Vancouver BC

Griffins – The Fairmont Hotel Vancouver, Vancouver BC

Revel Room, Vancouver BC

Rocky Mountain Flatbread Company, North Vancouver BC

Tapenade Bistro, Steveston BC

Zen Japanese Restaurant, West Vancouver BC

After my dinner at The District and The Revel room we ended the night at C Restaurant. C Restaurant is the founding partner of Ocean Wise so it was the perfect spot to end the evening.

On the table:

The following is just a teaser, please keep checking back for reviews and details of the food.

Restaurant 1 – THE DISTRICT

Location: 13 Lonsdale Ave North Vancouver, BC

Chef: Executive Chef Paul Mon-Kau

Smoked Salmon Caesar

  • Wine pairing: Pentage Pinot Gris or Van Westen Viognier
  • Ocean Wise salmon: Wild BC/AK salmon – Chinook or sockeye (as per our Seasonal Wild Pacific Salmon Recommendations)

The District Mussels

  • Wine pairing: Triple Karmeliet Ale or Road 13 Honest John's Red
  • Ocean Wise Mussels: Mussels (sustainably farmed; off-bottom culture – minimal to no habitat damage; no feed necessary; no pollution from farm)

Red Wine Cassis & Cardamom Poached Pears with Vanilla Gelato

Restaurant 2 – REVEL ROOM

Location: 238 Abbott Street

Chef: Executive chef Tyrell Brandvold & Chef Joel Silva

Pecan Crusted Pacific Sablefish

  • Braised kale, bacon, and charred tomato vinaigrette
    • Sablefish (Sustainably caught: Alaskan by bottom longlines, BC by traps; minimal bycatch & habitat damage; strong management; resilient species & abundant)

West Coast Jambalaya

  • Salt Spring Island mussels, Manila clams, spot prawns, chorizo, rice
    • Mussels (sustainably farmed; off-bottom culture – minimal to no habitat damage; no feed necessary; no pollution from farm)
    • Manila clams (sustainably farmed; on-bottom culture with hand harvest; minimal habitat damage; no feed necessary; no pollution from farm)
    • BC spot prawns (sustainably fished with traps; minimal bycatch & habitat damage; strong management; resilient species & abundant)

Restaurant 3 – C RESTAURANT

Location: 2-1600 Howe Street

Smoked Baynes Sound Scallop

  • Denman island herring “escabeche”, peashoots in multiple textures, compressed cucumbers, shallot vinaigrette

Selback-Oster, Riesling, Zeltinger Sonnenuhr

  • Spatlese, Mosel-Saar-Ruwer, Gemany (Sustainable) 1998

Salt Spring Island Goat Cheese and Vanilla Mousse

  • Sapo bravo stone fruits, spiced liquid marshmallow

Forbidden Fruit Winery

  • Iced Apple Dessert Wine
  • Similkameen Valley, BC (Sustainable) 2007

Vista d’oro Winery

  • Fortified port style wine with Walnut brandy
  • Langley, BC (Sustainable) 2007

Additional note: Due to the fact that this was an event exclusive to media, everything from transportation to food was complimentary. However there are no expectations from Ocean Wise or the restaurants and everything written is 100% of my personal thoughts and experience.


  1. Great post -- thanks for spreading the word about organizations such as Ocean Wise and subject matter of the like, especially in a food blog. Businesses need to take responsibility for making sustainable purchasing decisions just like consumers do. Their purchasing power influences the food supply (and such) industries so much more and until more people opt for the sustainable option, those 'cheaper' supplier options will always be around and as you mentioned, too soon, we won't even have an option of what to fish anymore because there just won't be much left out there. Even better is if these responsible restaurants make the effort to communicate and educate their patrons on Ocean Wise and programs of the like or even just on sustainable methods and the price the environment and society ultimately pays when we go with the 'other' option. Those businesses should be commended because yes, as it does add a few dollars to your purchase, they are accepting the risk of losing a few customers over those dollars. Bravo to them for taking that risk. I mean, what good is it raking it in in the short-term and not caring about the damage that's being done and supporting poor sourcing methods, if in the long term your product might not even exist anymore as a result of that? That's not exactly 'sustainable' for business either.

    And now that you got me started, I highly recommend the film Food Inc. which talks about matters just like this and covers the entire food industry. I'm not anti-corporation .. if I can get big businesses to opt for sustainable practices and in fact help make those options even more affordable -- then hey, I'm all for it.

    Thanks very much for writing and bringing attention to such a great event!

  2. I guess if diners don't want to pay the extra, they could opt for a different restaurant? Also, from a business perspective, it would be really difficult to manage inventory of 2 types of everything - oceanwise and non.

    luck you! complimentary food!!! and it looks yummy too!

  3. Thanks for your posts!

    I'm glad I sparked some discussion and I'm happy that you have shared your views on my blog.

    Yes, I was very lucky - Cinderella night!...well for a foodie it was :)

  4. I just want to comment and thank you guys for photographing my food. It looks like it came straight out of a magazine. I've never really shown my family the food i've been making out here in vancouver, and the photo of the jambalaya and the sablefish looks really f'n good. Thank you again.


  5. Hi Joel,

    Thank you for accommodating and sharing your talent! I will pass your message to the photographer. You should definitely show your family these pics, half the work was yours! Glad you like them!

    All the best, M