Posts Tagged 'Fresh Thoughts'

Our Fresh Thoughts Series Is Back!

The National Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series is back this fall, with events at both our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues. We hope you will join us for one or both of these exceptional four-course prix fixe menus with wine pairings, all in the unique setting of the Aquarium at night!

Fresh Thoughts, Washington, DC

September 19, 6:30 – 9:00pm
Featuring: Sea Bream
Click here to buy tickets!

Chef Xavier

Chef Xavier Deshayes

Join us in Washington, DC, on Wednesday, September 19, when Chef Xavier Deshayes will serve up a four-course meal featuring sea bream, a delicious white fish. Hear from experts about this fish and learn about the completely sustainable system at the Institute of Marine and Environmental Technology (IMET), which is providing the sea bream for this dinner.

Learn More and View the Menu

About Guest Chef Xavier Deshayes
A native of Beziers, France, Xavier Deshayes is the executive chef at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, which hosts some of the city’s most notable meetings and special events and is often recognized for its distinguished catering services. Chef Deshayes is on the forefront of developing sustainable and environmentally conscious menus by thoroughly researching his product sources.

Fresh Thoughts at the National Aquarium, Washington, DC, is sponsored by the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center.

Click here to buy tickets for DC Fresh Thoughts!

Fresh Thoughts, Baltimore, MD

September 25, 6:30 – 9:00pm
Featuring: Lobster
Click here to buy tickets!

Chefs Becker and Semidey

Chefs Chris Becker and Omar Semidey

You’ve asked for it, and it’s finally coming to Fresh Thoughts—lobster! Join us in Baltimore on Tuesday, September 25, when guest chefs Chris Becker and Omar Semidey of Fleet Street Kitchen present their menu featuring the succulent shellfish, along with fluke and rainbow snapper.

Learn More and View the Menu

About the Guest Chefs From Fleet Street Kitchen
A Baltimore native, graduate of the Baltimore Culinary Institute, and veteran of several of the city’s most highly regarded restaurants, Chef Chris Becker maintains deep relationships with local farmers, foragers, and fishermen. He was named one of the top “Chefs to Watch” by Baltimore Magazine.

Born and raised in New York City, Chef Omar Semidey developed a passion for food and cooking that led him to pursue a career in the culinary arts. Omar attended the French Culinary Institute in New York City. After working with Chef Becker at The Wine Market, he rejoins him at Fleet Street Kitchen, with the goal of developing and executing an exciting, high-quality, and seasonally inspired menu.

Click here to buy tickets for Baltimore Fresh Thoughts!

We hope you’ll join us!

The concept of our Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series is to offer unique dining experiences themed around a sustainable seafood choice. Guests will enjoy a cocktail reception and educational demonstrations and/or discussions followed by a three-course seated dinner paired with perfectly matched wine in the tranquil atmosphere of the Aquarium after-hours.


“The Office” Star Angela Kinsey and Sustainable Chef Barton Seaver visit the National Aquarium

Seafood fraud is an important issue that hurts our oceans, our wallets, and our health. Last night, at National Aquarium, Washington, DC, guests learned about seafood fraud with experts from Oceana, the National Aquarium, and two very special guests, actress and activist Angela Kinsey and sustainable chef and author Barton Seaver.

Speakers, including Barton Seaver and Angela Kinsey, informed guests about the importance of stopping seafood fraud

Guests had the opportunity to participate in a special seafood tasting prepared by Chef Xavier Deshayes, executive chef at the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, showcasing how easily species can be substituted.

Can you tell which fillet is mislabeled?

In a recent report, Oceana found that while 84% of the seafood eaten in the United States is imported, only 2% is currently inspected, and less than 0.001% specifically for fraud. Recent studies have also found seafood may be mislabeled as often as 25–70% of the time for fish like red snapper, wild salmon, and Atlantic cod, disguising species that are less desirable, cheaper, or more readily available.

“As a mother and a seafood consumer, I want to know what I’m putting on the dinner table for my family,” said Kinsey.

This reception followed a full day for Angela and Barton. The team traveled with Oceana through Washington, DC, with stops including a Hill briefing at the Capitol Visitor Center, where they called on Congress to pass pending legislation aimed at fighting seafood fraud and illegal fishing.

Click here to find out more about seafood fraud and Oceana’s new campaign.

National Aquarium CEO John Racanelli and sustainable chef & author Barton Seaver

The foundation of the National Aquarium’s mission to inspire conservation of the world’s aquatic treasures is public awareness and education. Choosing sustainable seafood is an easy and impactful action every consumer can take for the future health of our ocean. Like Oceana and our honored guests, we strive to provide opportunities to share knowledge about thoughtful seafood choices with programs like our Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series.

Thoughtful Thursdays: Paiche, the Peruvian behemoth

From Animal Planet Australia: Wild Extremes Curator John Seyjaget: 

Last week, I journeyed to Peru with two friends of the National Aquarium, Chef Xavier Deshayes and Kelly Morris, in search of  the South American Arapaima gigas, a behemoth of a fish that lives in the Amazon. As the largest freshwater fish in the world, this giant can reach a maximum size of 2 meters and 200 kg.

The South American Arapaima gigas or paiche, as it is commonly called in Peru

My journey took me some 4,268 miles from the Aquarium in Baltimore, MD, to Newark, NJ, to Lima, Peru, and finally to Yurimaguas, a remote village on the banks of the Huallaga River, part of the Amazon River Basin. Transportation along the way included planes, buses, cars, and rickshaws.

Peruvian rickshaws

The fish we were there to see is the Arapaima, commonly known as paiche, an apex predator in the Amazon. The paiche belongs to a group of fish called bony tongues, and is the largest of the seven types of bony tongues worldwide (there are three in Australia, one in Africa, and three in South America).

The paiche is unique in many ways. It is a fossil record—this fish dates back to more than 65 million years unchanged by evolution. And it breathes air! The paiche must surface every 15–20 minutes to gulp air, which it processes in its swim bladder to extract its oxygen needs. The paiche is also a buccal incubator, which means that after the female lays eggs and they hatch, the male picks up and keeps the babies in his mouth for the first 4–6 weeks while they grow.

Paiche is revered as a local delicacy. The fish flesh is white, thick, and tender. It is high in collagen and is therefore great for grilling, searing, and frying. Although illegal to fish in Peru, paiche is still hunted by the river villagers. Villagers claim that the flesh of the paiche is better than beef.

The local wild paiche is now on the endangered species list because of overfishing. Farming the paiche not only creates a profitable export product, but also creates jobs, provides a food source for the local people, and relieves hunting pressure on local wild paiche populations. It also allows the seeding of natural habitats with captive-raised specimens to assure the growth of the wild populations.

The farm we visited has more than 130 ponds holding more than 100,000 paiches each, including 100 adult breeding pairs.

Paiche farm pond

The farm feeds these fish organic foods made from bycatch squid with no chemical additives. The adult fish reproduce in captivity without the aid of hormones or any chemical manipulation.

The fish produced here are harvested at 18 months of age, when they are about 1 meter long. They are caught in seine nets and taken to a processing plant nearby where they are processed and frozen. Almost none of the fish is wasted. Besides the flesh of the fish, the heads are skeletonized and used for museum and educational artifacts, the scales are used for nail files, and the bony tongues for medicinal purposes. The fish produced here is exported to Europe and the United States.

Holding a large paiche

So why did we travel all this way to see a fish farm? Today’s food needs are putting a lot of pressure on our natural resources, forcing environment degradation and species extirpation and extinction, sometimes resulting in an ecosystem collapse. The National Aquarium hosts Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Seafood events at both our Baltimore and Washington, DC, venues. The Fresh Thoughts initiative looks at resource sustainability, and presents sustainable seafood alternatives to our guests. If individual consumers support sustainable seafood choices, we can make a difference in fish populations and the health of our oceans worldwide.

Chef Xavier, executive chef at the Ronald Reagan Building, creates the menus for the Washington, DC, Fresh Thoughts events. To advance the Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts initiative, Chef Xavier asked that I accompany him to Peru to see firsthand the sustainable aquaculture of this fish.

Chef Xavier

Although the farm is productive, shows green potential and is sustainable, as an Aquarium curator, I was more impressed with the breeding and husbandry success of this species and the scale to which it is done. I look forward to exploring similar sustainable aquaculture!

You can taste the results of this journey for yourself at the Fresh Thoughts dinner on Wednesday, April 25, when Chef Xavier will serve up delicious paiche. Learn more and make a reservation here.

#FreshThoughts Twitter Contest!

We have a very special surprise giveaway for you today!

To help kick off our Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Dining Series 2012 season,  the National Aquarium is giving our Twitter followers the chance to win a pair of tickets to tomorrow night’s Fresh Thoughts dinner at our Washington, DC location by participating in a special #FreshThoughts Twitter Contest! 

From 9am EST through 3:30pm EST today, Tuesday, February 28, post a tweet telling us why you want to join for tomorrow’s dining event. A random entry will win two tickets to our Fresh Thoughts event tomorrow night, Wednesday, February 29, featuring Guest Chef Xavier Deshayes and a Louisiana-inspired menu of sustainable seafood!

Here are the instructions:
1) Follow the National Aquarium on Twitter at @NatlAquarium
2) Tweet us your reason why you’d like to attend tomorrow night’s Fresh Thoughts dinner to @NatlAquarium and include the hashtag #FreshThoughts

Need some inspiration? Click here to check out what Chef Xavier has planned for the four course meal – there are at least four reasons why you’d want to attend right there!

Click here to find out more about our Fresh Thoughts Sustainable Dining Series at our Washington DC location!

Contest closes at 3:30pm EST on Tuesday, Feburary 28, 2012. A winner will be announced at 4:30pm EST on Tuesday, Feburary 28, 2012. Entrants must be 21 or older to win. Winner and guest MUST be able to attend event. If selected winner is unable to attend, the National Aquarium reserves the right to pick a new winner.  

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