Chef Ned Bell of the Four Seasons' YEW restaurant, buys sustainable fish at the city's wharf.

Chef Ned Bell of the Four Seasons’ YEW restaurant, buys sustainable fish at Vancouver’s wharf. Photo by Michael Shapiro

Though most of humanity doesn’t realize it, our survival depends on our oceans. During the past couple of centuries we overfished and polluted oceans to the point where many species are on the verge of collapse. But most of us love wild seafood and have no intention of curtailing our appetite. That’s why the sustainable seafood movement is essential. In the U.S. it’s been led by the Monterey Bay Aquarium; the Canadian counterpart is the Vancouver-based Seafood Watch but the true stars of the movement there are the top chefs who insist on serving fish whose stocks are not depleted. Last fall I spent a few days in Vancouver tracing sustainable seafood from fishing boats to markets to the city’s finest restaurants.

Excerpt: Ned Bell, the executive chef at the Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver leaps out of his shiny white Prius and trots over to Muursepp’s trawler, takes one look at his catch and says, “Peter, your tuna is going to be served at YEW (the Four Seasons’ flagship restaurant) tonight.”

This intimate connection between fishermen and chefs is a key part of Vancouver’s burgeoning sustainable seafood movement. Fishermen do their best to catch responsibly, and chefs work directly with them to put fresh, local and remarkably flavorful seafood on their diners’ plates.

“The lucky thing for us as chefs here in Vancouver is that we have Fisherman’s Wharf right here (in the city),” Bell says. “The day boats go out and come back with their catch, and they bring it right to our restaurant kitchens. Spot prawns in May and June – it just doesn’t get any better. The fishermen are out in the morning getting the spot prawns (or halibut or tuna) and they’re on the plate that night.”

Here’s the PDF of my story for Inspirato, which appeared in Inspirato magazine. Click on image to open PDF.