With the help of research and marketing boards, chefs are utilizing popular  (and not-so-common) protein items in new ways—particularly with charcuterie.


 The Sea-cuterie board at Chicago-based Travelle.
Protein is essential to help our bodies maintain adequate health and prevent muscle loss—a common phobia that has catapulted supplemental powder and meal bar production. While these work for a quick fix, complete meals allow us to obtain other vitamins and nutrients as well. What’s more, animal proteins provide what can’t necessarily be found in fruits, vegetables and grains alone. With a broadening realization of the health benefits, our bodies are literally ravenous for this essential nutrient. But in this quest for dietary fulfillment, our taste buds need to feel exhilarated. 
Thanks to reliable charcutiers who provide different cuts of preserved products, charcuterie is one way culinary experts can spice up a menu. And they’ve expanded well beyond the standard pork options, now featuring a curated selection of cured meats, breads and tangy jams or condiments. Employing all cuts of meats, chefs are able to whip up pâtés and crépinettes, sopressatas and chorizos, and whole-muscle cuts in order to create low-maintenance, shareable charcuterie boards that continue to be a great starter and make a great platform for chefs to creatively show off their skill set. 
But what would these skill sets be without their spotlighted ingredients? We have collaborations and marketing boards to thank for educating kitchens across the country on their respective proteins. Boards like the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI), the National Pork Board (NPB) and so many others exist to promote each respective protein to foodservice operators and distributors; to maintain the ecosystems that create their livelihoods; and to keep consumers knowledgeable of both their practices and the benefits, creating a renewed interest in the role protein plays in our everyday lives.

Turf 

Chef Craig Deihl prepares charcuterie plates at his
Charleston, S.C.-based Cypress restaurant.
Pork is a powerful partner on a plate, and chefs are leveraging its versatility in new ways. The National Pork Board (NPB) aims to elevate pork consumption on a global scale. According to the Pork Checkoff, the growth rate of pork outpaces other proteins, and the NPB has implemented a five-year plan to keep momentum going. Its goals are threefold: to enhance consumer trust in pork production; to drive sustainable production; and to grow consumer demand.
Director of Foodservice Marketing and Innovation, Stephen Gerike, focuses on objective three: to grow consumer demand. Specifically, he works to provide culinary education. “We’re constantly trying to provide innovative ideas for how to use pork based on what’s happening in the business today,” he says. “The idea is to educate as many people as we can so they’re confident using pork.” 
Perhaps among the most confident in using pork is Executive Chef Craig Deihl of Charleston, S.C.-based Cypress. Recognized for his charcuterie program, Chef Deihl likes to have fun with craft butchery by breaking down hams that are offered on the menu. “Working with pig is my favorite,” he says. “Particularly the Guinea Hog.” Now, the Guinea Hog isn’t your everyday pig. With a high fat-to-meat ratio and a size too small to suffice a 310-seat restaurant, this pig wouldn’t be considered a culinary front-runner for standard dishes. Luckily for Cypress, it’s perfectly suited for charcuterie boards. Cypress’ quest for excellence while using superior products like the Guinea Hog has helped pave the James Beard-nominated way for the Lowcountry restaurant. Steadfast in his belief of presenting only the best meat to his patrons, Chef Deihl stands behind The Butcher’s Guild as one of its audacious members who guides other professionals in butchery and the utilization of meat-based products. 
Also a big fan of featuring pork on his Michelin-rated menu, Chef Andrew Zimmerman of Chicago’s Sepia once showcased his swine cooking abilities by including red cooked pig’s ears on one of his charcuterie boards. “Charcuterie was born from cooks being thrifty with their trim and less-prized cuts of meat,” says Chef Zimmerman. In most areas of the world, pig ears would fall right into that category. Sourcing high-quality ingredients is an essential element of Sepia’s success. “You can’t make great food with mediocre ingredients,” he says. With a last name like Bacon, it’s possible that Chef Jeremiah Bacon’s career was written in the stars. The Charleston native has two thriving hometown restaurants—The Macintosh and Oak Steakhouse. His position at both has earned him multiple James Beard nominations over the years. While The Macintosh features a seasonal surf-and-turf charcuterie plate, Oak Steakhouse focuses more on the turf to accent the menu. “We’re certified Angus Beef Prime [at Oak], so we get some of the most beautiful and prized meat,” Chef Bacon says. The Butcher’s Plate at Oak, while exquisitely prepared, is driven largely by its inventory. “We butcher a lot of beef, so it’s dictated a little more by trim,” he adds. 
Just as each aforementioned protein has its own marketing board, so too does beef like that served at Oak Steakhouse. An operating committee implements promotion and marketing research for the National Cattlemen’s Beef Association (NCBA)—the latest of which involves looking into consumption patterns of Millennials. “The Millennial generation is 80 million strong in this country,” says Dave Zino, executive chef for NCBA. He works with chefs and processors to provide education on what will appeal to both Millennials and the market as a whole.

Surf

New York-based Oceana utilizes information from the ASMI
 and MLMC to advocate fresh fish and lobster served on the menu.
Shoreline inhabitants are inherently healthier than their hinterland brethren. Studies have repeatedly established the correlation between heart health and Omega 3s. On the other end of the carnivore spectrum, the Alaska Seafood Marketing Institute (ASMI) does for the sea what the NPB does for the swine and the NCBA for cattle. The oceans predate life on earth, so ASMI diligently protects what they consider to be the state’s greatest asset. It allocates a seven-member board that’s made up of processors and fishermen with the task of ensuring that the needs of the harvest are balanced with the needs of the ecosystem. The board—and all fishers—help regulate this by ceasing the season once an established quota has been met. According to their research, about half of all seafood production in the United States comes from Alaska’s 34,000 mile coastline. It is home to the most abundant seafood stocks in the world, so the seafood industry is a vital component of the state’s economy. Alaska takes its seafood so seriously in fact, that they remain the only state with a constitutional mandate regulating the utilization and development on a sustained yield principle. “We are one of the world leaders for sustainable fisheries management,” says Claudia Hogue, foodservice director for ASMI. “They actually wrote into the state constitution that all fisheries must be managed sustainably.” 
Another group with a long history of sustainability and traceability is deeply rooted in an overarching family of lobstermen. Maine’s self-regulated industry has been practicing responsible fishing for more than 100 years. Small-boat fishers don’t have a mandated season for lobster; they typically live by the this-ishow-we’ve-always-done-it season. The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) was the answer to the surplus of lobsters available due to one year’s unexpected early arrival. “There wasn’t enough capacity to handle it,” says Matt Jacobson, executive director of MLMC. “There was no marketing effort, and it’s such an important commodity for Maine.” This unprecedented opportunity has allowed the last of the hunter/gatherers to tell their sea-to-table story. 
Lobster has grown to be a compelling restaurant trend in recent years. Chefs are reimagining the crustacean; creating innovative dishes that play on both lobster as well as other sea life’s versatility. Chef Ben Pollinger is a Maine Lobster chef advocate; he chooses to serve high-protein lobster from Maine at his restaurant, Oceana, in
New York City. Likewise, Chef Pollinger takes advantage of ASMI’s resources. He serves fish found in the pristine waters of Alaska like Wild Alaskan Salmon because he believes sustainable, wild fish is always the best choice when it’s available. “It all starts with the product,” he says. 
PB Catch’s Seacuterie board
The seafood take on charcuterie is growing in popularity in areas that are both conducive to obtaining fresh fish daily as well as unexpected locations, like Chicago-based Travelle. With an affinity for creating small plates, Chef Tim Graham began to realize his original charcuterie idea didn’t fit on the menu as a traditional meat-centric dish. As his idea began to crystallize, his team prepared charcuterie analogs out of products from the ocean, morphing the dish into a seacuterie board. Featuring a Tuna Bresoala—a take on the air cured beef from Italy—the fish is dry rubbed twice and hang-dried, then sliced thin and served as a traditional Bresola would be. Preparing traditional meat-heavy dishes with a seafood substitute is often accomplished with a trial-and-error method. “Sometimes it feels like we have no reference for what we want to accomplish,” says Chef Graham. “That is when we just push on, take good notes, and adjust as necessary.”  It’s not difficult to find a fresh cut of tuna in South Florida, so the group at PB Catch in Palm Springs  has some fun in the kitchen with its food trials. “We started experimenting with the curing and smoking process of different fish,” says Executive Chef Aaron Black. The final product: a seacuterie selection that provides the best combinations of texture and taste when cured and prepared in a way that might be found on a traditional charcuterie plate; salmon pastrami, smoked trout and scallops, and octopus torchon—a marine version of a foie gras preparation method where the meat is wrapped, poached and chilled. From concept to execution, PB Catch puts a lot of thought into its menu because it’s the signature culinary technique that they are trying to convey. With these sea friendly takes on menu items, chefs are able to call to mind their own influences and upbringings with inspiration from around the globe. 
High-protein food choices play a major role in our health—and obtaining it from animal sources offers more flavor varieties. These chefs exist to provide restaurant goers with new delectable offerings, and these marketing boards exist to aide chefs in their new understanding of what each has to offer. Chefs are armed with pork, beef and seafood as their artists’ tools, and these [charcuterie] boards act as their blank canvas.
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In a world  saturated with upscale menus, 
we take the road less traveled across America to find the essence of a no-frills meal.

The open road is one of opportunity and romance, travel and leisure, and for us, a chance to explore the off-the-beaten-path stops that might otherwise have gone unnoticed. Oftentimes it’s the road less traveled and restaurant less publicized that can bring to the plate a meal, an experience and an atmosphere worth seeing again. Beginning on the coast of Seattle and ending in downeast Maine where rockbound shorelines are abound, this cross-country road trip is rooted in routes through Main Street. Here, the melody isn’t modernizing, and the food, the product, and the experience is founded on tradition. These restaurants offer a how-to on pleasing the traveler who’s beaten lengthy highway stretches and GPS malfunctions to find their dining destination is just up ahead.  

TAYLOR SHELLFISH FARMS

In the Pacific Northwest, oysters are more than a bivalve of the hour, they are THE bivalve. Here, they are plucked directly from the sheltered inlets and islands of one of the greatest oyster regions in the country. And with that, the oyster bar prevails. Dispersed across the Pacific Northwest, the saturation  of half-shell-focused eateries also calls for authenticity. So where better to start than back in time? With five generations of history behind it, we head to the tidelands and shallow waters of Taylor Shellfish Farms.  

“It’s really special to deliver the food of your region, and that’s shellfish to the Pacific Northwest,” says Marcelle Taylor, whose great-great-grandfather began farming Olympia oysters in the crisp Puget Sound waters in 1890. An inlet of the Pacific, there’s something seriously simplistic about the complex product that grows throughout the network of marinas and waterways in the Puget Sound. Here, every tideland creates its own composite.

At Taylor Shellfish, they’re farming more than just the northwest-of-Seattle Puget Sound area and have perfected the growing method to match each locale. At Totten Inlet, a southern point of the Sound, beloved and delicate Olympia, Pacific and Virginica oysters are grown. Chapman’s Cove produces its Kumamotos, whose sculptured, fluted shell holds an oyster of nutty, sweet and clean flavors. At its farm in Willapa Bay, also south of Puget Sound, the wave and wind help to form the company’s briny Shigoku oysters, a proprietary oyster to the company.  It’s a Pacific oyster that’s tide-tumbled so the bags flip with the flow of the tide. “It knocks off the frill and makes the meat nice and strong to give the oyster that crunch that you don’t typically get in a regular Pacific,” says Taylor.

In an effort to build a direct, sustainable relationship between the Seattle consumer and the Taylor Shellfish Farm family, the company created three neighborhood oyster bars, each tailored to its own community. Taylor Oyster Bar in Capitol Hill, the company’s first, is a reminder of the humble beginnings of fresh seafood in its rawest prime. The menu here reads raw oysters only and a few cooked, chilled and cracked market specialties like Dungeness crab and cocktail prawns. Geoduck sashimi and a smoked salmon plate are also  on the list, accompanied by local wines, IPAs and pale ales, among others.  

“We originally thought that people would come to Capitol Hill to buy shellfish retail to cook at home,” Taylor says. “But they were coming in and asking us to do the shucking. It quickly became less of a shellfish market and more of a true oyster bar.” Eating the Taylor family’s product is as transparent a process as ever, and following the oyster back to its pristine waters is simplicity at best at the company’s oyster bars, which recently expanded to include locations in Queen Anne and Pioneer Square.

Still selling about 95 percent of its product wholesale, they’ve gone beyond building a sound retail program for local Seattle consumers—this is truly developing the heart of their business. Product is delivered six days per week to more than 150 restaurants and chefs in the area. The national program is also one of recognition. The company is one of the largest shellfish producers in the United States, and with an infrastructure to send clams, mussels and oysters year round direct to distributor or chef, it’s a specialty worth looking into.

 “And it’s as fresh as it can get because we own the entire process of the supply chain,” says Taylor. “We can manage every section, and we know exactly where it came from, when, and when it’s going to hit someone’s table. We like to say its tide to table and as direct as possible.”

SUNRISE BISCUIT KITCHEN

Crumbly and dense. Flaky and light. Buttermilk or milk? The local loaf is a hotly debated topic, but in North Carolina, one biscuit kitchen has tipped the scale. Just up the road from the University of North Carolina situates a drive-through-only restaurant that’s been crafting its tall, golden brown biscuits since 1977. “Calling us no frills is being very generous,” says David Allen, owner of Sunrise Biscuit Kitchen. The 460-square-foot Chapel Hill location serves up southern comfort to lines of cars and patiently waiting customers seven days a week.

Adapting his grandmother’s biscuit recipe from “a pinch of this, a sprinkle of that” into a meal fit for service, Allen’s technique and handling of the dough hasn’t changed.

“As a southern farm family, there were many to feed,” he says. His grandmother, who lived to be 100 years old, had 17 children—Allen’s mother was the youngest. “Biscuits were served at every meal—they’re hot; they’re fresh, and they fill you up.”

It’s just the essentials here. A snaking line of cars and a steady handout of product. But for a restaurant so steeped in tradition, Allen has recognized the need to adapt. Over the years, loyal customers discovered that if they came in the kitchen door, Sunrise would let them order. When word got out, he added a second register to handle the walk in customers. It’s a small addition, but convenience for customers is key after nearly 40 years of business.
“I was hesitant to do this—the drive-through was our focus,” says Allen. “But it’s improved our service to everyone.” The location still only holds up to 3 people in at one time.

Chicken breast, sausage, bacon, country ham, pork chop tenderloin, western steak and more are all available to be sandwiched between the golden buttermilk goodness. The Chicken and Cheddar Biscuit is the top seller in Chapel Hill; The Country Ham Biscuit reigning   number one at the Louisburg location just 50 miles northeast.

These fluffy, flaky numbers are more than just a vehicle for sausage and gravy, fried chicken or sausage, they’re a way to the  heart of customer’s mealtime memories. Yelp, Facebook, TripAdvisor—all of these review sites are surging with positive responses, five stars and suggestions that the mom n’ pop spot must be seen and tasted to be fully understood.

“Many people tell me that they have been coming to Sunrise since childhood,” he says. “We certainly take great pride in what we do. At all of our locations, we have very dedicated people working with us, and I think that it helps that they get such positive feedback from our loyal customers.”


BAGADUCE LUNCH

Featuring a dramatic shoreline caressed by waves, reaches from the Maine land mass stretch like fingers into the Atlantic; its peninsulas jut in and out of the sea with more than 5,000 miles of coastline and islands to boot. In Downeast Maine, where rockbound coastlines prevail, we head inland to Bagaduce Lunch.  It sits quite literally on the edge of Brooksville and atop its namesake river.  You might find that off-the-beaten-path description of the 69-year-old roadside fish shack to be an understatement, but that certainly does not mean it’s the path less traveled. Since its opening in 1946 when Sydney Snow built a small take-out window for locals and passerbys, Bagaduce has continued to be a family affair—Judy Astbury, Snow’s granddaughter, is in her 19th year.

Simplicity reigns here at Bagaduce with Haddock Sandwiches king. Fried haddock fillets veil the sandwich buns they’re served on, and on a busy day, that number can reach 65-70. Couple that with the crab meat and lobster rolls ordered on speed dial and plump fried clams fit for Paul Bunyan himself, this Mother’s Day-through-mid-September spot is doing something right.
Astbury and her husband have seen children grow up and loyal locals and visitors come back since they took over for Judy’s parents in 1997. It’s as much about family lineage here as it is about the cohorts of customers who have traveled on ME Route 175/176 here for generations.

Sure, its no-frills atmosphere has been subject of talk and taste for those in the surrounding New England area, but Bagaduce Lunch has garnered hype and celebration of its food and service from around the country. In 2008, it was named one of the James Beard Foundation’s “America’s Classics.”

And classic is stays. There’s no indoor seating here; just a white-paneled building with red walk-up windows that customers belly up to to place an order. They’ve grown in size, expanding and rebuilding as needed. Walk around the building, and 20 picnic tables are scattered amongst a scenic backdrop of the narrow Bagaduce River—a waterside view alone worth the penny paid. But at the end of the day, it’s the family’s ability to season after season put out good food and work a crowd that brings the people back.  
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The global fishing industry is one muddied in coastal waters. Is transparency anywhere in sight? 

The traceability of seafood from international waters to an American plate can be a web of confusion for many, and black market fishing—or what we should correctly refer to as illegal, unreported or unregulated (IUU) fishing—muddies the waters. According to the National Oceanic Atmospheric Administration (NOAA), a federal scientific agency and one of the most respected seafood sustainability organizations in the world, nearly 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the United States is imported; much of that from China, Thailand, Indonesia, Vietnam and Ecuador.

A greater understanding of where our seafood comes from is top-of-mind lately. There’s two demands here from consumers and chefs: a demand for sustainability—ideally that fish and shellfish are farmed or fished in such a way that each can maintain or increase production in the long term. And second, a demand for a more transparent look into the water—where is it coming from?

With that in mind, and because the entities engaging in IUU fishing circumvent conservation and management measures, avoid the operational costs associated with sustainable fishing practices, and possibly derive economic benefit from American fisheries, the Department of State and NOAA  announced an action plan for the implementation of recommendations to combat IUU fishing and seafood fraud.

The recommendations were announced at the Seafood Expo North America earlier this year by a 19-agency presidential task force that was established by President Obama to create a comprehensive framework to protect the economic and environmental sustainability of U.S. and global fisheries. The task force, which created the action plan, includes a diverse group of members—Department of Homeland Security, U.S. Agency for International Development, the Food and Drug Administration, the Department of Defense and 15 others.

“Because more than 2.5 billion people depend upon fish for food and nutrition, IUU fishing practices threaten food security and sustainability and undermine efforts to reduce global hunger and malnutrition,” the report stated.

The action plan spells out each forceful step, 15 in total, that federal agencies will take in both domestic and international settings as the Obama administration works to support sustainable fisheries and keep the American fishing industry strong.

“It hurts businesses that do the right thing; it hurts consumers; and it hurts the resource,” says Sean O’Scannlain, founder and CEO of Fortune Fish, a gourmet seafood distributor. “But the most important part of understanding the issue is having the proper perspective in order to use resources wisely in combating it.” There’s already efforts in place that seek to address transparency challenges including port state measures, which help ensure illegally harvested wild-caught seafood does not enter international trade; as well as the FDA’s Food Drug and Cosmetic Act, which enforces capabilities against misbranded food.

For the task force, the 15-step action plan simply hopes to reinforce a commitment to a transparent seafood system. An increase in required information available on products is one of the four general themes of its plan.

Port state measures, free trade agreements, fishery subsidies, and best practices for data tracking are among the 15 recommendations, broad in scope, provided to the administration by the task force.  Others include expanded federal, state and local enforcement provisions and information sharing and traceability programs.

The traceability system attempts to give chefs and consumers purchasing seafood in the American market an increasing confidence in its sustainability. In the meantime, O’Scannlain suggests that Chefs looking for a more transparent route for their fish first look at what traceability program is in place with their supplier. Extra documentation might not be needed.

“Most often that tracking will be significant,” he says. “Chefs should have a conversation with their supplier before they unilaterally embrace the need for more documentation. Sometimes a conversation rather than an ultimatum can be eye opening.”

Most suppliers already have systems in place, which is why O’Scannlain believes creating new laws or initiatives for the sake of new laws or initiatives is not successfully addressing the issue. The task force’s recommendations are ambitious, certainly. But they do address the need to trace at-risk products. The plan eventually aims to trail every piece of seafood that enters U.S. commerce from where it is caught to where it lands in the United States. According to the report, implementation by September 2016 should trace all at-risk seafood (or products of particular concern) through data tracking.

American interest in the international seafood supply chain is certainly strengthening, especially after a yearlong investigation by the Associated Press surfaced a few months back.  The investigation brought to light modern day slave labor conditions in Indonesian fisheries. It’s a clouded seafood supply chain, and according to the AP, tainted seafood mixes in with other fish at a number of sites in Thailand, including processing plants. The thought is jarring, and although extreme, it proves the need for higher regulation and transparency in the fishing supply chain. It also requires chefs ask more questions.

At Fortune Fish, yes they seek to work with the most responsible international trading partners available, but they also know which questions to ask. “We vet our suppliers and have a stringent quality assurance and control program, but we are also members of the Better Seafood Board (BSB),” says O’Scannlain. “It’s the leading B-to-B anti-fraud group. If we have questions, we take those to the BSB. If a supplier isn’t a member of the BSB, the first question we ask is why not?”

And that’s the first question O’Scannlain suggests you offer to potential distributors and suppliers as well.

Questions can tackle transparency, but sustainability takes hard work on every end. The implementation of the Task Force’s concepts will begin with the integration of programs and data across the sustainability landscape. They’ll include increased federal agency collaboration and the development and phased implementation of a traceability program for species that might not be sustainably farmed.

“NOAA is one of the premier seafood sustainability organizations on the planet,” says O’Scannlain. “They manage stocks to their maximum sustainable yield. If an NOAA regulated product is on the market, it is sustainable.” If it were not, NOAA wouldn’t allow it to be harvested. They’ll also certify that it not only came from an approved establishment, i.e. no IUU fishing involved, but it’s also meeting the U.S. grade A standard.

He believes that sustainability, very simply, has to do with oversight. “Is someone watching the stock? Is someone managing the fleet? Are there responsible measures in place to make sure aquaculture is done right?” he asks.

Unlike many specialty, packaged products on the market, there’s no one specific seal or certification that makes it sustainable. “So is seafood sustainability realistic? Yes, absolutely,” he says. “But it’s not a state of panacea that we’re trying to get to, it’s the state of hard work we are in now and will always be in that will make and keep seafood sustainable.”
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As the desire for “better-for-you” choices continues to increase and change in definition, your approach,as Chefs, to the foods you source and prepare for your menu must also change and reflect this growing trend.


In the past, better-for-you meant healthier in terms of lower fat, calories and sodium. While this is still relevant and important, todaythe definition far exceeds these healthy claims. Consumers are becoming more educated on where foods originate, how they’re processed, or not, and their journey from inception to plate—whether it be at home or in your operation. Healthier is linked to quality. The quality of the foods you prepare does matter. And, more and more of your customers want to know the details.


Maximize Your Menu
Suggestive selling from waitstaff is still necessary and effective. However, your menu is an essential resource, and one you can capitalize on to help successfully describe and promote your better-for-you offerings.

As patrons’ knowledge of such terms as “superfood,”“clean-labeling,” “hormone-free” and “non-GMO” is becoming more commonplace, you can take advantage of this sophisticated mindset and adapt your menu accordingly. Changing your description from“Juicy beef burger on a whole wheat bun with a side of French fries,” to “Free-range, pasture-raised, 100% beef enclosed in a toasted, gluten free bun and served alongside locally sourced organic sweet potato fries,” sounds more appealing and not only identifies the attributes of the foods, but confirms you care about the quality of the food served to your patrons.As Chefs, the suppliers you partner with reflect the personality and integrity of your operation.

Farm-Raised To Plate, Perfection
Made in the USA. Locally grown. Locally sourced. However you state it, where your food comes from matters. At Clear Springs Foods, our uncompromised dedication to quality and total vertical integration assures you the finest rainbow trout available, from farm to plate. We maintain control over every phase of production, ensuring complete transparency and outstanding consistency.


Not only do we pride ourselves on our sustainable practices in both our Idaho and Chilean farms, we’re also excited to provide you with a versatile protein you can feel good about promoting on your menu. Clear Springs® Rainbow Trout Fillets provide that perfect, sustainable foundation for creating an endless array of menu ideas. They’re 100% boneless for ultimate convenience and available in natural fillet and butterfly style for application flexibility. With its delicate, mild taste and tender texture, rainbow trout accents the flavors of marinades, sauces and seasonings – making it an extremely versatile, healthy protein you can be proud to serve. Visit clearsprings.com for recipes and more. 
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The long winter is finally over, and Maine New Shell Lobsters are here. Just in time for National Lobster Day.

Maine is home to some of the world’s most delicious lobster, and the beginning of the harvest season is well underway. To celebrate National Lobster day today, we've gathered some information pertinent for lobster enthusiasts.
 Typically lasting from June to November, this is a unique time for locals. Just prior to peak harvest season, lobsters in the cold, pristine waters of Maine shed their old shells and grow new ones, resulting in Maine New Shell Lobster—one of the sweetest, most tender lobster available on the market.

The Maine Lobster Marketing Collaborative (MLMC) has launched a new campaign to let us in on this seasonal delicacy. With intentions of celebrating the unparalleled flavor brought by New Shells, the program offers creative ways chefs are preparing Maine lobster on their menus.
They want everyone to celebrate the Maine Lobster season. “We are excited to introduce people around the country to New Shells and the amazing story our lobstermen have to tell,” says Matt Jacobson, executive director of MLMC.
People are increasingly interested in the provenance of their food and care about issues like environmental sustainability—something the Maine Lobster industry has been at the forefront of for decades. It has a long history of sustainability and traceability practices deeply rooted within a close-knit group of multigenerational family lobstermen. They have self-regulated their industry and practiced the same responsible fishing practices for more than 100 years. “We’ve been doing it like this forever,” says Jacobson. “in 1879, the first self-policing regulation about sustainability occurred in Maine Lobster. They threw back the big ones to breed more and threw back the little ones because they’re not big enough yet.”  Lobster fishermen take pride in the quality of their product and do all they can to protect the marine environment that provides their livelihood.
A dish that continues to become more and more popular is the lobster roll, which is being served up everywhere from high-end restaurants to fast casual chains and food trucks. Luke Holden, owner of Luke’s Lobster and board member of the MLMC, has recently opened his latest location in Chicago this past May; Pret A Manger, a quick-serve restaurant will offer Maine Lobster Rolls at all U.S. locations this summer; and they’re even being served in the U.S. pavilion at the food-themed Expo Milano 2015, forever cementing it as an iconic American dish.
If you want a little more information on New Maine Lobster, check out the infographics and recipe below; and we hope you find yourself enjoying some of the delectable delicacy today.




Linguine with Chive and Tomato
Adapted from: For Cod and Country by Barton Seaver
Serves 4
4 1-pound Maine New Shell Lobsters 
6 Roma tomatoes, roughly chopped
4 cloves garlic
1 small yellow onion, finely diced
2 tablespoons extra-virgin olive oil
1 pound linguine
Chopped fresh chives for garnish
Salt
Directions: 
Fill the largest pot you have with at least 1 gallon of water and bring to a boil. Put the lobsters, two at a time, headfirst into the water. (Be sure to do it this way! If you put them in tail first, they will snap it back as they hit the water and could splash boiling water right into your face.) Cook, uncovered, for 5 minutes. This is just enough time to dispatch the lobster and firm up the meat inside the shell. With tongs, transfer the lobsters from the water to a colander to cool. Cook the two remaining lobsters in the same way.
Do not discard the cooking water.
Remove the lobster meat from the tail and cut into 1/2-inch dice. Remove the claw meat from the shell and reserve.
Combine the tomatoes, garlic, onion, olive oil, and 1 cup of the lobster cooking water in a medium saucepan. Season generously with salt and bring to a boil. Reduce the heat to a simmer and cook until the tomatoes begin to break down and the onion softens, about 5 minutes. Remove from the heat.
Add a good amount of salt to the lobster cooking water and cook the linguine, using the timing specified on the package. When the pasta is 1 minute from done, strain off all but 1/2 cup of the cooking water. Add the tomato sauce and continue to cook the pasta for another minute, until it has absorbed most of the liquid. Remove from the heat and toss in the chopped lobster tail meat and the cooked claws. Toss to combine.


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 Creating a synergy between fueling
long-distance cycling chefs and children in need, 
Chef Jason Roberts and No Kid Hungry are hitting the trail.

A frequenter of the bucket list—though not often crossed off—cross-country or long distance cycling has a certain attraction to it, right? Picking up a new set of wheels comes with unfamiliar goals, and for most, an even longer list of benefits. Maybe it’s the sense of clarity that can be found on the open road or a new-found friendliness and camaraderie of those pedaling the pavement for a cause. For those who ride and train through sweat and pain—oh, and also rain, wind, mountains and Mother Nature’s unpredictability—it’s a self-fulfilling accomplishment sometimes unmatched.

For the chefs biking the 300 miles for Chefs Cycle for No Kid Hungry, now in its second year, maybe it’s the calm away from the bustling pans and kitchen hours that allows them to pedal out the miles and push through. Whatever the emotional benefits, physical struggles or resistance undergone, the understanding that every mile is traveled for a hungry child is one that each pedaling chef shares.

Chefs Cycle brings restaurant industry professionals together on two multi-city courses in a 300 mile, three-day bike ride that raises funds and awareness for No Kid Hungry, who provides nutritious meals to hungry kids who would otherwise go without. 

Hunger. It's a reality so far from non-existent in this country. And if there’s an image even further from emblematic of this industry, it’s an empty plate.

“That’s one of the hardest things in the trade—we’re consistently tasting and trying dishes and you’re always surrounded by food, but how is it that kids are going hungry?” says Chef Jason Roberts, an ardent supporter of No Kid Hungry. After connecting with Co-Founder Debbie Shore about 15 months ago, Chef Roberts rolled out the concept of a bike ride. A few months later he’s riding from New York to D.C. with a group of chefs for the first Chefs Cycle event. They raised just about $25,000 with that ride, and today, with nearly 50 chefs involved, Chefs Cycle has brought in upward of $226,162—about the equivalent of 2.2 million meals.

Two rides will take place down each coast this June—one routed from New York City to Washington D.C. June 7-9 and the other from Santa Barbara to San Diego June 14-16.

“The bike thing makes sense—I’m exercising; I’m meditating; I get all my thoughts down,” he says. “I wanted this great synergy between the bike ride and chefs cooking and fueling themselves while being able to peddle this message out.”

It’s a message about a problem, about the solution, and about the impact one chef, one person, and two wheels can make. One in 5 children in the United States does not get the food he or she needs. Childhood hunger takes a toll on health and development, and beyond that, has a profound, perpetual impact on each one’s futuresbut let us add that it's preventable.

“It’s why we pedal; it’s the steps we take,” says Chef Roberts.  “It’s just something that seems ridiculous—I never remember as a kid being hungry or choosing between the quality or quantity of food. So we’re personally engaging in this cause. We’re getting closer.”

The numbers are shocking when put in perspective—16.2 million children live in households that lack the means to get enough food on a regular basis. The No Kid Hungry campaign connects kids in need with nutritious food and teaches their families how to cook healthy, affordable meals. The campaign also engages the public to make ending childhood hunger a national priority.

Chefs and restaurants have been some of the most fervent supporters, magnifying the voice of hunger in America. As an avid advocate for health, nutrition, waste management and conscious eating, Chef Roberts’ effort with Chefs Cycle and No Kid Hungry has a two prong effect. “It’s one thing to raise money and awareness and give kids food—but it’s what we’re giving them.” he says. “How are these great building blocks to a better future? I’ve thought long and hard about this.”

Once upon a time, Cody and Cassidy, through lemonade stands and water sales, raised $250 for Chef Roberts and No Kid Hungry. Their grandmother, an acquaintance of his, matched their funds and brought the two to New York to personally deliver the check. “We raised the money for you, Chef Jason,” said the 7-year-old Cassidy. “Because 90 percent of the food we eat comes from donations. And we rely on school lunches.” His jaw dropped, his self humbled. This thoughtful young girl could show so much maturity working to ensure her peers had more access to what she did not.


“When you see these chefs cycling in their element; and they’re smiling and they’re happy and they’re engaging and doing this for others, there’s nothing more rewarding,” he says.

When I asked Chef Roberts what hit home the most for him when taking part in Chefs Cycle, without the skip of a beat he said community. From avid cyclists to those who trained for the first time 6 months ago, the chefs who participate in this ride reveal a sense of self-reliance that’s built and nurtured and sustained by this group. Chefs Cycle takes you out of the hospitality industry box and into something bigger.

“You strip down to a bare minimum when you give yourself like this,” he says. “No amount of foie gras truffles or any exotic food that might be cool at the time is going to fire away the need and the love and the reward from giving back like this.”

For those who can’t get away to ride this year, just one dollar can help a child access ten meals. Consider supporting a chef on the ride by donating or visiting No Kid Hungry to see how your restaurant can impact our future generations. Passion drives this foodservice industry—we challenge you to share your strengths and your passion to feed others and join #TeamNKH to fight and eradicate childhood hunger. 
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If it’s culture at the heart of a sundry, sprawling dining scene that you crave, then Chicago’s got you covered. From Randolph Street mainstays and sun-drenched rooftops to hidden neighborhood gems and buzzed-about springtime openings, this fair city’s culinary community is embraced across the country. With celebrity chefs and industry vets descending on the Windy City this weekend for the National Restaurant Association Restaurant, Hotel-Motel Show, the vibrant food culture will no doubt be celebrated. But where are these culinary luminaries eating while they’re in town?

 We caught up with a few to find out where they’ll be getting their grub on.



Barton Seaver
“I won't be in Chicago long this time around, so I won't get to visit as many restaurants as I’d like to.  But Mercat by Jose Garces is probably going to be my dinner of choice. I always try to get a drink at RitzCarlton Water Tower where I did my culinary externship. And on the way out of town, Tortas Frontera at O'Hare—I like layovers in Chicago just for this reason.






Maneet Chauhan







Jeff Mauro

“I live here, so I’ll be dining at my house in Elmwood Park—and maybe Johnnie’s Beef for a Combo.  But currently, my favorite restaurants in the city are BokaMomotaroBohemian HouseGaetanos in Forest Park, and Katy’s Dumpling House.”



Robert Irvine
“Rarely do I have much time to enjoy the Windy City, but if I get a chance I always try to visit local favorites or the establishments of chefs I’ve had a chance to meet at other events.”








Geoffrey Zakarian









Pat Neely
Big Bricks barbecue, and Michael Jordan’s—because I’m a huge fan. A great pizza place, Luella’s Southern Kitchen, and Good Stuff Eatery.”








G. Garvin
Blackbird and Japonais.”









Fabio Viviani
“Although I live in Chicago, I’ll only be in town for the NRA show and won’t have a chance to visit restaurants while I’m there. However, I heard that Siena Tavern is pretty good. And the new Prime & Provisions is opening—looking forward to checking that out… haha :-)”

Hey, we’ll always encourage a shameless Dineamic Group plug, Chef Viviani. 


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With the NRA show in town, we're continuing our list of must-eat restaurants for brunch, dinner and everything in between.

By Sam Ujvary

419 W. Superior Street
312/915-0011
Have you ever walked into a restaurant and felt an immediate sense that the interior decor is going to directly reflect the menu? River North's Kinmont knows the feeling. I walked in and noticed the evident influence of copper within the dinning room, reflecting the era from which the restaurant draws inspiration. It seamlessly blends an eye for creativity with accents reminiscent of mid-to-late 1800s hunting and fishing clubs that fostered an appreciation for nature. The space boasts some original design elementsskylights, large beams and exposed brick. Kinmont gets its name from the artisan salmon fly-fishing lure known as the Kinmont Willie. Rooted in a unique brand of Americana, the concept harkens to an era when fly fishing and hunting were prominent sources of conservation in the Midwest.
It's a sustainable seafood restaurant with an emphasis on types of fish that aren't utilized as much as traditional seafood. The menu comes from local and coast-based products sourced daily. In addition to traditional salmon, tuna, oysters, crab, lobster, shellfish and other customary seafood choices, Kinmont shines the spotlight on rough fish. Rough fish are some of the most sustainable selections available, a keystone component of the restaurant's ethos. The dining program supplements local wares with sustainably fished products sourced from both coasts, and adheres to the Monterey Bay seafood watch list, the Safe Harbor list, and the Bill Fish foundation list. Its menu includes some unfamiliar varieties such as triggerfish, cobia, and amberjack, all sourced from individual fishermen. Kinmont's menu offers a wide variety of pastas, sandwiches and other dishes from a larger host of raw seafood offerings to a take on a classic burger or new wild game proteins including pheasant and quail. 





  
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With the NRA show in town, we're continuing our list of must-eat restaurants for brunch, dinner and everything in between.

By Sam Ujvary

401 N. Morgan Street
312/763-3316 
Being at The Brass Monkey is like traveling back in time. Upon entering the corner establishment that’s tucked away in a pocket of the Fulton Market District, you become engulfed in the 1970s.
From refined brasserie dishes to contemporary riffs on ‘70s comfort food, the 100-seat restaurant pays homage to the indulgent and idiosyncratic ethos of the period. The interior of the establishment boasts patterns and colors reminiscent of the decade that taste forgot, and it works. Small tile, velvet and the unabashed use of brass throughout the restaurant elicits a dramatic sense of nostalgia. 
While the design mimics the ‘70s, the music directly hails from what is arguably the most influential decade in rock and roll. From James Taylor to Queen, the Jackson 5 to members of the 27 club, the vinyl collection is an essential component of the restaurant’s ambiance. You have a chance to actually rummage through its vinyl collection in the record shop; a front room that doubles as a private dining space featuring more than 1,000 LPs.

There’s the décor; there’s the music; and then somewhere between Nixon and ‘Nam lies The Brass Monkey’s menu. Owner Marc Bushala explains the menu concept. “We wanted to create an experience like being at a dinner party on Warren Beatty’s yacht with Tom Jones entertaining and Julia Child cooking,” he says. And that’s precisely what they’ve done. The contemporary take on classic brasserie fare pays homage to the time of TV dinners and Tang. Cheese Balls and Baloney Sliders shine on the menu; and what would a ‘70s-inspired restaurant be without its Pork Chop & Apple Sauce. There’s literally even a TV dinner. Short rib meatloaf with mashed potatoes, creamed corn and peas served in an iconic four-part tray.


Regardless of if you actually were, or just think you should have been born in the ‘70s, The Brass Monkey evokes an instant sense of nostalgia. It’s at the corner of Morgan and Kinzie. Be there or be square.


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