Things We Learned at the Trash Fish Dinner

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Several of our readers have asked us not to post on an event after it happens, because it leaves them feeling left out.

While we can’t magically go back in time so you could enjoy the Trash Fish Dinner as much as we did, we can take a moment to share what we learned about the event.

1.  The term Trash Fish doesn’t refer to fish that should be thrown away.  It’s actually By-Catch, species of fish that get caught in the nets of fishermen looking to fill orders for other species.  For example, a fisherman hoping to catch grouper could pull up several hundred pounds of black drum in their nets.  Because they weren’t the intended target, they are considered by-catch, aka “trash fish.”

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2.  There are so many other tasty fish worth a try.  Going back to that several hundred pounds of black drum . . . Imagine that the fisherman had a market for any by-catch caught during his run out for grouper.  Instead of tossing those fish back into the ocean or throwing them out at the dock, the captain can sell those fish to fish mongers who will put them in the talented hands of a local chef.  Win. Win.  (And Win.Win. for you — you get to taste new flavors and save money on your restaurant bill!)

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3.  Popular fish on local menus are being over-fished.  Like any other business, restaurants feature menu items that people have a demand for.  Consequently, some of the most popular fish; salmon, grouper, sword fish, and sea bass are facing shortages, with their numbers declining along with their popularity as a meal choice.

4.  Change a menu, change a life.  By trying different fish, especially by-catch or trash fish, you are helping your favorite fish species repopulate, while giving yourself the experience of trying something new.  You’re also helping our local fisherman profit and grow their business by turning trash fish into cash fish.

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5.  Most fish can be cooked with the same sauces you already love.  At the Trash Fish dinner held at Louies Modern this year, the Chefs didn’t know in advance which species they’d be cooking ahead of time.  They chose between a white meat fish and an oily fish, and created their menu from there.

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Jack Crevalle tradito by Chef Darwin Santa Maria

6.  We didn’t care what fish landed on our plate, because every dish was absolutely delicious!   From a selection of trash fish appetizers created by Chef Paul Mattison to the spread set out by Louies Modern’s Chef Joey Egan and Chef Jose Rojas, we were hooked!

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7.  Family style is a great way to sample more delicious food.  The Trash Fish dinner was served family style, with platter size portions shared between groups of 6 guests or so.  With 5 fish courses, plus a dessert course, everyone at our table had the chance to try as much of each dish as we could handle – which, we found out, was a lot more than we thought we could eat.  No one knew when to say when!

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8.  Sarasota’s Chef Collaborative killed it!  How cool was it for those of us in the dining room to watch some of Sarasota very best chefs working together to serve each other’s dish?  Seriously. . . these guys and girls, have each other’s back.  And you could certainly taste that in the food.

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9.  Edible Sarasota, The Sarasota Herald Tribune, and WSRQ Radio rocked!  It was great to see the support Trash Fish received from the local media.  Edible Sarasota has been behind the scenes on this event for the past two years, and WSRQ has supported the event with a 30 minute radio show each year.

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The Chefs collaborated to get each other’s dish to the table.

10.  We always learn something at Trash Fish.  Maybe that was what makes Trash Fish Dinner so unique.  While we were wined and dined with some of the best fish dishes we’ve enjoyed for some time, we learned so much from the Chefs who stood up and introduced each dish, sharing how they prepared it, and why they chose some of the accompaniments on the plate.

11.  At $125pp, Trash Fish Dinner was well worth the price.  Selling out in less than 10 days, we’re guessing that the event will sell out in less than 2 next year.  Like every other guest there, we paid for our tickets, and know without a doubt that we couldn’t duplicate the menu for any price near that.

The Chefs are toasted with craft beer from Darwin's Brewpub.

The Chefs are toasted with craft beer from Darwin’s Brewpub.

12.  The applause was well deserved.  At the end of the evening, we experienced something we rarely see at fundraising events.  First, almost every single guest was still there, and those that did stood up to give the Chefs, Edible Sarasota, Publicist Nikki Logan and Louies Modern a standing ovation.   And the accolades went on for days after the event.

Can’t wait for next year!




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