October is National Seafood Month, so for the next few weeks JBF and our Smart Catch partner C+ C are highlighting chefs cooking on the front lines of sustainable seafood. Below the team at C+C catches up with San Francisco’s Matthew Dolan on his motivation for joining Smart Catch, his favorite sustainable seafood dish on his menu, and much more.
Feeling burned out on all things pumpkin for the moment? We have your antidote, because October is National Seafood Month, a time to focus on smart seafood selection, to share delicious recipes, and to learn more about chefs working to improve the path from sea to table. To honor National Seafood Month, the James Beard Foundation is kicking off a brand-new series from our Smart Catch program: Reel Talk. In each installment we’ll be chatting with participating chefs and dishing on all things sustainable seafood.
Smart Catch launched in June and is designed to help both chefs and diners access a greater variety of sustainable seafood options. Chefs who sign up commit to ensuring that more than 80-percent of the seafood on their menu is sustainably sourced. We’re kicking off the Reel Talk with Twenty Five Lusk and Tap ’s chef and owner Matthew Dolan, who is also cooking up a sustainable seafood feast at the Beard House on October 13.
C+C: Why did you want to become a chef?
Matthew Dolan: As a kid, the symphony that is a great restaurant—the energy, the flavors, and the variety—were overwhelming. I was hooked at a very young age. At 14, I started working, and I haven’t deviated from the business since.
C+C: Why is sustainability important to you?
MD: We have done a number on this planet and our food system. I have two kids, and my hope is that they will inherit this planet in a reasonable condition. It doesn’t seem like that will be the case at this point in time, so every single effort counts.
C+C: What is the most interesting thing you’ve learned as part of the Smart Catch program?
MD: I am encouraged to see how many restaurants are taking part and signing up.
C+C: What is your favorite sustainable seafood dish right now?
MD: We have a skillet-roasted True Cod from Alaska with saffron mussel sauce, escarole, and shishito peppers. I’m very excited about this one.
C+C: What do you think is the most common misconception about sustainability and seafood?
MD: I feel that the notion that farm-raised fish is the answer to protecting wild species is just off. Regulated fisheries and controlling seasonality and catch limitations is a better way to go. Some of these farms do more damage than one would realize. Also, if we could diversify the wild species that make it to market and create demand for lesser-known and invasive species, we would be protecting our fish supply.
C+C: What's the fish you wish everyone knew more about and served?
MD: Sand Dabs.
C+C: Knowing that the majority of Americans consume seafood at restaurants, what would you recommend those who are inspired to cook at home start with?
MD: Start raw! Make tartare and ceviche. No real cooking involved, organic corn chips from the store, some guacamole, a simple ceviche, and you’re headed in the right direction.
C+C: If you could have an unlimited supply of one ingredient what would it be?
MD: Beer. Let’s be honest. But if we are still talking about cooking, quince. I love quince.
C+C: If you could give one piece of advice to an upcoming chef, what would it be?
MD: Pay your dues. Learn every station. Wash dishes. Be part of the team. Leaders are made this way. Don’t call yourself chef until you’ve earned it, and learn something every day. Lastly, treat people with respect, and respect the fact that you are not just creating dishes, you are creating guest experiences.
Can't make it to the Beard House? Get a taste of chef Dolan's cooking with his recipe for Grilled Prawn Salad.
C+C is a communications firm that specializes in mission driven campaigns. Find out more at cplusc.com.