You may not be familiar with Bon Appétit Management Company (BAMCO), but it is quite likely you've eaten their food. BAMCO manages cafes, restaurants, and cafeterias at museums, universities, and companies in 32 states. Chefs are always encouraged to source locally and cook seasonally and now, the siren call of local is hitting up their fish offerings. The company is having their first Eat Local (Fish) Challenge tomorrow, September 25. BAMCO chefs will be showing off the kinds of fish that can be procured locally and, ideally, sustainably. Dishes like this sturgeon raised at Passmore Ranch in California and served at the Stanford Graduate School of Business.
I'm writing about this because I love fish and seafood, and it drives me nuts when I see how many people are stuck in a salmon-shrimp-tuna rut, with maybe a bit of lobster or crab thrown in every now and again. Salmon and tuna are both undoubtedly fabulously delicious, but we need to mix it up a bit. The Eat Local (Fish) Challenge is showing the way. Emanuel May at Savannah College of Art and Design in Savannah will feature amberjack, a reef fish he threw away as a kid fishing for the now over-fished grouper. And guess what? Amberjack is a delicate, lovely fish, perfect quickly grilled or seared.
What about land-locked states? Edward Farrow will be serving up locally raised tilapia topped with salsa and grilled zucchini at the Musical Instrument Museum in Phoenix.
I'll say that I'd love to be able to try the Lake Erie perch and walleye (please, please do not make me choose between perch and walleye, especially if they are pan-fried) being served at Case Western Reserve University, Cleveland or herring, sardines, ling cod, and oysters (all on my favorites list) on offer at SODO Kitchen in Seattle. The Seattle Art Museum, the Modern Art Museum in Fort Worth, the Getty Museum in Los Angeles, and the Art Institute of Chicago are a few other of the institutions with cafés and restaurants participating in the challenge.
Let me know if you hit one of these and how it was. But you need not go to a BAMCO restaurant to play along. You can always find a great local fish and cook it up yourself!