Direct Seafoods | May 2019
Direct Seafoods is encouraging chefs to keep up to date with the latest advice on sustainable fish and seafood species, as it increases its support with new online resources and increased access to specialist advice in its network of local businesses.
With guidance changing regularly according to factors such as the time of year and the quantity of specific species being landed, Direct Seafoods’ director of sustainability Laky Zervudachi warns that chefs and hospitality operators need to be committed in order to stay up to speed.
He said: “A sustainability programme isn’t something operators can simply sign up to and ‘tick the box’. Any list of fish and seafood species is a snapshot, as the situation changes all the time. It can depend on the breeding season, changes to quotas and simply the size of the catch, among other factors.
“As just one example, wild caught sea bass has become widely used on menus, and the advice now is to switch to farmed varieties or alternative species. We’ve been making this kind of up-to-date guidance available to our customers through our local businesses for some time, and we’re expanding that to ensure the information is also regularly updated online.
“The Marine Conservation Society Good Fish Guide provides up-to-date guidance on which species should be avoided and which are ok to eat. We use this as a main reference point for our teams to advise customers on sustainable species.”
Direct Seafoods brings together 10 hospitality-focused, regional fish businesses covering Cornwall to Scotland, under a national brand within the Bidfresh group, supplying thousands of chefs and restaurants, hotels, pubs and other hospitality sectors.
With more consumers than ever expecting operators to put sustainably caught and managed fish on the menu, Direct Seafoods will now offer regular online updates not only on which species are being caught sustainably, but which are ‘red rated’ and should be avoided. This includes downloadable posters that can be used by chefs as a simple reference guide when ordering, backed up by a range of information and resources.
Recognising the need to put responsible sourcing at the heart of its service to operators, the business has recruited a specialist team led by Zervudachi as director of sustainability.
Brian Hall, managing director of Direct Seafoods says: “For us, it’s not simply a question of advising operators on sustainability; there are species we simply won’t sell. We’re committed to working with customers to ensure their menus reflect the latest sustainability advice, and we have specialists at all our sites to help ensure that.”
Direct Seafoods works with a range of organisations including The Marine Stewardship Council, The Marine Conservation Society, the Global Sustainable Seafood Initiative, The Sustainable Seafood Coalition, Sustainable Restaurant Association, Global Aquaculture Alliance, Global GAP, Sustain and the Blue Marine Foundation.
Case Study: Ibérica Restaurants – a sustainable approach
Among the operators working with Direct Seafoods is the seven strong Ibérica Restaurants group. Group head chef Cesar Garcia says: “Guest awareness around sustainable eating has grown hugely in recent years, and is continuing to become more and more important to people. They are more interested than ever in knowing where their food comes from and many make choices based on sustainability of the ingredients and produce.
“We focus our menus on seasonal produce wherever we can, which means we use ingredients that are naturally abundant at the right time of year. We use free-range meat and eggs from trusted suppliers and all of our fish such as hake, prawns, and sea reared trout comes from Direct Seafoods. We look to work with responsible suppliers across all of our food and drink purchasing and our fish is no exception. We then reflect this in the dishes we serve on our menu.
“We have worked with Direct Seafoods for four years, and trust their commitment to responsible fishing. We work with them because they promote sustainability, which, in turn, means we can offer our guests a dish made with sustainable and excellent quality fish.”