The Smithsonian’s Ocean Initiative program hosted “Sustainable Seafood: Ensuring a Healthy Supply,” a sustainable seafood dinner at the National Museum of Natural History. The June 7 event, which addressed the importance of maintaining safe seafood supplies, strategically fell on the eve of World Ocean Day. What does “sustainable” mean to the Smithsonian as well as for fish? “ ‘Sustainable’ means species can maintain a healthy population and the natural balance is not disrupted by harvesting,” according to the Natural History Museum.
While the Ocean Initiative’s sustainability message was prominent throughout the night, the hors d’oeuveres and entrees prepared by some of Washington’s top chefs, including Victor Albisu, Jeff and Barbara Black and Mike Isabella were equally enticing. With a reception in the Sant Ocean Hall, guests were treated to an array of dishes, cocktails and wine while perusing various educational stations run by scientists and chefs who explained the nutritional risks and benefits of seafood. Some of the appetizers included Upper Bay Eastern Shore oysters from Rappahannock River Oysters, Blue Bay Mussel salad from Hank’s Oyster Bar and smoked trout panna cotta with smoked steelhead trout caviar from RIS. Majestic Café provided Maryland striped bass sashimi, Thai chili, sesame seeds, nori and daikon, while Moorenko’s Ice Cream Café brought a selection of ice cream. Finally, BlackSalt arranged bronzini ceviche with squid and small shrimp.
In the museum’s rotunda, a four-course dinner followed the reception where guests listened to a keynote address by Steven Phillips, CEO of Phillips Seafood restaurants. The meal included velvet corn soup, jumbo lump Maryland crab, and roasted peppers from The Source by Wolfgang Puck. A grilled fillet of red grouper with diver scallop, yellow potato mousseline, fava beans, silver queen corn reduction and tempura soft shell crab from chef Richard Hetzler of Mitsitam Native Foods Café complimented those dishes. The meal was topped off with a cheese course and an almond and peach tart tatin, caramel ice cream, apricot gastrique and streusel for dessert, which were also provided by The Source.
The dinner was sponsored by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, the National Marine Fisheries Service, Wegman’s Food Markets and the National Marine Sanctuary Foundation.