Chefs go to salmon source
Provenance and sustainability are this year's buzz words in seafood, says Australian seafood expert John Susman.
Chefs wanted to know where it was from, who produced it and how it was produced, Mr Susman said.
The seafood industry was simply following in the footsteps of the wine and beef trade.
"People order wine not just by the variety but because of the region and the grower. Seafood is going that way as well. They want to know the full story."
A significant point of difference for Australian restaurants, which imported the majority of their seafood, was the history and provenance of the product, Mr Susman said.
People could expect to see descriptions like "New Zealand King Salmon from the Marlborough Sounds" on more restaurant menus.
"That's becoming more and more fashionable."
Mr Susman was in Marlborough yesterday with about a dozen Australian chefs, seafood suppliers and food writers taking a tour of New Zealand King Salmon's and Cloudy Bay Clams' operations in the Sounds.
They visited New Zealand King Salmon's Te Pangu Bay farm in Tory Channel where they watched salmon being fed and harvested.
King Salmon Tory Channel farms regional manager Charlie Park said each fish could be traced back to its original family group.
The fish arrived at the farm weighing between 80 and 100 grams and were harvested 14 months later at about 4 kilograms, Mr Park said.
"Our primary job is feeding them . . . getting them as big as possible," he said.
Bondi Beach chef Tom Walton said he was impressed by the simplicity of the operation.
"I'm sure there is more science behind it, but basically they feed the fish and fatten them up."
Mr Walton would use the trip, his first to Marlborough, to educate his front of house team back in Australia.
"We receive it in a box at the other end of the line," he said.
"I've never been on a fish farm before, it's good to see the production for yourself and the people who do it."
Mr Susman said such trips were important to develop a relationship between the grower of seafood and the end user.
"Getting these guys to experience what we have just experienced and to met Charlie is a vital part of the process."
Sydney seafood supplier Jules Crocker said the trip helped his customers, the chefs, develop an enduring affinity with the product.
"They feel a connection and understand the story," he said.
"These guys are a key influence in food.
"What they do at the top end, over time, you will see trickle down into the rest of the market. These trips offer tremendous value to the primary producer long term."
The group of Australian chefs, suppliers and food writers will be attending the Marlborough Wine and Food Festival on Saturday.
- The Marlborough Express