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Jamie Kennedy's - no Endangered Fish on Menu [Moved from Ontario board]

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I love dining at Jamie Kennedy's. It's one of my favourite restaurants in the world and I go to it about every 3 months. I also love the values he espouses, among them buying local and not offering fish that are endangered or not sustainable. He is a big supporter of Canada's Seafood Guide, SeaChoice (available at http://www.seachoice.org) and one time I was having dinner even provided all patrons with their handy wallet sized card that helps in making prudent choices when buying or ordering fish.

However, I was recently in another restaurant (to remain un-named, as I think this is not an uncommon issue), that had a fish on the menu, Sea Bass, which turned out to be Chilean Sea Bass (formerly known as Patagonian Toothfish, and when so named it never sold that well). Chilean Sea Bass is both endangered and has high levels of mercury.

I mentioned this to the server and all I got was a shrug. I ended up leaving it at that, but didn't order the fish. But then I thought I should have talked to the manager about it. But at the time I didn't want to make a big deal of it as I didn't want to start off a business dinner with something contentious that had nothing to do with the business we were discussing. Also, I didn't want to appear as a complainer. Nor would I have probably wanted to do the same if it was a romantic dinner.

What have other people done in this situation? Do you find it common occurrence to find endangered species on the menu? Should you just wait and come back later or write the restaurant a letter?

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  1. A business dinner is not the best time to discuss food beliefs. Contacting the management after seems to me like the best course of action. If enough people do that, management will change their minds.

    1. are you positive that the fish was in fact chilean sea bass? "sea bass" is a catchall term used for a lot of different species of fish, some plentiful and some less so:

      http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Sea_bass

      more info on "sea bass" --there is a printable list of most/least sustainable seafood at seafood watch:
      http://www.mbayaq.org/cr/seafoodwatch...

      1. I wouldn't have said anything, especially as this was a business dinner. Not all restaurants can or even want to be like Jamie Kennedy's. It's certainly your choice if you choose to not go there anymore if you're not happy with its practices.

        1. chilean sea bass is everywhere - markets and restaurants. as is swordfish and tuna. all of which are being overfished and are high in mercury. you can let them know with your wallet and i also write letters.

          1. I thought the only time mercury was a real problem was if you ate it every day. That is what I was given to understand about tuna.

            And if it is an endangered species, why can we fish for it? I am confused.

            2 Replies
            1. re: miss_bennet

              just b/c something is not on the "endangered" list does not mean it is not in jeopardy. take west coast salmon for example. sustainalbe farming - whether it is wheat or rice or fish - is fundamental to the future of eating and feeding the ever-growing world population. i believe the bald eagle is no longer "endangered" - but i'm not going to hunt one.

              and if you don't worry about eating items that are high in mercury - that's your choice. i choose not to. i guess it's similar to the choice of not wanting to eat undercooked chicken - you might be ok, but why risk it.

              1. re: miss_bennet

                Who's going to stop someone from fishing it?

              2. Patagonian Sea Bass is not endangered (which is a defined term). It definitely suffers from illegal overfishing. There are several well-managed legal fisheries, though, so it is possible theoretically to get relatively sustainable Chilean Sea Bass. That said, it's probably worth avoiding.

                1 Reply
                1. re: xanadude

                  I bought some in a frozen pack at Costco, from Chile. The package claimed that it was from a sustainable fishery. Apparently the areas fished by France, Chile and Australia are managed for sustainability. But those countries have to chase out illegal trawlers and apprehend them, not an easy task. The illegal catch often goes to Mauritius for distribution.
                  Since it comes from the Antarctic, this fish is almost always frozen, and the catch is a commodity, not as subject to consumer complaints.
                  If a restaurant gets complaints, they can re-sell it to a neighbour, and it will get eaten, unlike a rejected fresh fish that will be tossed.