By Ezra Klein
As a near-full time blogger, I’m not a big fan of meta-blogging. I’m a bigger believer in reveled preferences. Since none of us get paid for manning this site, the answer to why we do what we do is that we enjoy it. And apparently, enough of you enjoy it to keep coming by. So let’s just agree that the IFA is the best food blog — nay, best blog — on the internet and leave it at that. That’s a compromise I think we can all be happy with.
It also leaves me time to gush excitedly about the fish market chef Barton Seaver means to open in Logan’s Circle. Seaver is the former sous-chef at Jaleo, the former executive chef at Hook, and now the chef at Blue Ridge. He’s also a sustainability obsessive.In a good way. This quote, for instance, is as no-bullshit as I’ve ever heard someone who sells food for a living get:
He’ll send the message at his restaurants. The ingredients will be sustainable, of course: grass-fed Virginia beef, Kentucky hams and local bluefish. The portions will be measured. Diners will get four to five ounces of fish and lots of vegetables, not all-you-can eat sustainable shrimp. “I don’t care if something is certified 10 times over. It’s morally reprehensible to eat 16 ounces of protein in one sitting,” Seaver said. “Until that changes, it doesn’t matter what the product is.”
Word. Fucking. Up. That’s a neat dividing line between the folks digging into the policy around sustainability and the chefs interested in the image. Local isn’t the first priority in protein sustainability. Less is. But unless you can make up the reduction in volume in premiums for quality, less food sold also means less profit turned.
Seaver’s new market, apparently, will reflect this sensibility: The fishmongers will be versed in both their product and its implications. The choices will be environmentally and ethically sound. And that’s a relief to me. Whatever my problems as a cook, I’m pretty good on food policy. But the oceans still overwhelm my puny human brain. There are too many fish, too many variations of fish, and too much deceptive labeling for me to make confident choices. Worse, the absence of a particular fillet often throws my plan off altogether: My knowledge of seafood substitution is rudimentary as is, and worse when cross-referenced with my understanding of sustainable choices.
All of which is to say that I’d like to walk into a room that smells like ocean, where the choices can be trusted, where the staff can help me out, and where Seaver can scold me for my portion sizes. I’ll gladly pay a premium for that. So build on, Barton.