Get to know a Plated Partner: Sea to Table
WHY WE’RE PARTNERS
Most chefs will tell you, it isn’t just a luxury to source high quality seafood—it’s imperative to the flavor of your dish. A responsibly caught, high quality catch centers a recipe. Every prep method, sauce, or infusion just feels like an added bonus in comparison. So when we started our search for a traceable supplier to buy the freshest fish we could, we turned to another New York City-based startup, Sea to Table.
The idea that your seafood would have to cross an ocean other than the one it lived in just to make it to your dinner table is foreign to the Dimin family.
Back in the 90’s, Michael Dimin, with his motley crew of teenagers in tow, visited a sleepy fishing community in the West Indies on the island of Tobago. In many ways, it was like being in a time warp, far away from the business of fish warehouses and cryogenically frozen or farmed catch. The locals fished the way their grandfathers had—in traditional wooden pirogues, line-reeling to ensure a healthy local population that could sustainably feed generations. But the fish were more bountiful than the market to sell them. Michael saw an opportunity to change that.
That day sparked the early sketches of Sea to Table, a family-run business with a vision of connecting local fishermen to chefs who could help them creatively market their sustainably sourced, abundant catch of the day.
The basic, anchoring principle of Sea to Table is simple: Domestic fishing communities work hard for and are proud of their craft. If you’ve ever spent time on a boat in the company of local fishermen (as our crew here has in Portland, Maine), you can speak firsthand to the long days that bleed into nights, the endless competition of foreign markets, and the regulations and changing climate that have put significant pressure on their livelihood. At the literal and figurative end of the day, they care as much about where their fish is going as you care about where your fish is coming from.
When you begin to shorten the chains in the seafood industry, with its many middlemen and distributors, you bring fishermen back into conversation with their customers again, as you might if they both still lived down the street from one another. This not only ensures that both end up with more money in their pockets, but also that you’ll get a better product with greater transparency. When we place an order with Sea to Table, we know that what we’re buying will have been sourced sustainably and as fresh as what you’d order at the counter of your favorite local seafood dive. Oftentimes, it’s less than 48 hours from our catch being reeled in off the boat, cleaned, frozen and sealed, to being ready-to-ship. For us, that’s game-changing.
OFTENTIMES, IT’S LESS THAN 48 HOURS FROM OUR CATCH BEING REELED IN OFF THE BOAT, CLEANED, FROZEN AND SEALED, TO BEING READY TO SHIP.
Part of the challenge—and thrill—in working with Sea to Table is in never knowing exactly what the ocean is going to hand to us. Maritime ecosystems are elaborate and incredibly delicate. Some years, popular species are banned, while fishermen are encouraged to harvest other breeds, like dogfish, to restore balance.
That’s why our Head Chef, Elana, relies on Sean Dimin, Michael’s son at Sea to Table, as our sustainability guide and culinary collaborator during recipe planning. It’s an open dialog about what fishermen need to sell, what’s freshest, and what would work best for their culinary aspirations. And even if we can’t get what we thought we might want in our test kitchen, we’ll often very happily stumble into something even better.
Working with Sea to Table has given us a platform not just for helping home cooks discover high quality, fresh seafood, but also to do so in a sustainable way that supports domestic fishing communities.
Because when you privilege the relationship between people and their catch, the ocean again becomes an inexhaustible resource, as it always has been.
Get to know a Plated Partner: Sea to TableDecember 23rd, 2016
Get to Know a Plated Partner: Sfoglini Pasta ShopDecember 23rd, 2016
#PLATEDROADTRIP Spice ContestAugust 15th, 2015
Why We Love Hand Pies: They’re All About the CrustJuly 15th, 2015
How to clean a wood cutting boardJune 24th, 2015