Sea-to-Table Initiative Gets Fresh Fish to Chefs, Minus the Middleman

Sea-to-Table Initiative Gets Fresh Fish to Chefs, Minus the Middleman

Food & Drink

Sea-to-Table Initiative Gets Fresh Fish to Chefs, Minus the Middleman

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Trace and Trust is the name of a new boat-to-table program that gets fish to Rhode Island-area chefs within hours of catch, and without the need for a seafood wholesaler.

The program was created this year by fishermen Steve Arnold and Bob Westcott, along with Christopher Brown, head of the Rhode Island Commercial Fishermen’s Association. As reported by Joan Nathan for The New York Times, it’s helping to make fishing more lucrative for the fishermen and more reliable for the chefs and restaurants.

Arnold and Westcott make use of the latest in hand-held communication technology to let chefs know what they’re catching on a given day, sending photos of the catch via smart phones. Within a few hours, the fish in the photos are on the doorsteps of the restaurants, shipped on ice in a refrigerated van owned by Steve Arnold.

Seafood-loving consumers can go to Trace and Trust’s website to find stores and restaurants participating in the program, and can trace a fish’s identification tag back to the boat and fisherman who caught it. More and more people today want to know where their food/dinner came from.

In the Times story, Peter Baker, director of Northeast Fisheries Program for the Pew Environment Group, offers praise for the initiative. “These fishermen are cutting edge,” Baker said. He says the Rhode Island group has developed a program and marketing concept that no one else in the industry is doing.

Arnold says he also follows chefs on Twitter and Facebook to see what fish they are using or are wanting to use.

John Vestal, chef at New Rivers in Providence, R.I., is an enthusiastic customer and participant in the Trace and Trust program. He was amazed by the first shipment of fish he received. Vestal said it was the most beautiful, fresh, cleanest seafood he had ever seen. Sixteen restaurants in Rhode Island are currently participating in the program.

We expect, as word spreads about this innovative program, we will see this type of program pop up in other areas of the U.S.

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