Seattle restaurant magnate Tom Douglas came out of his kitchen Wednesday to host a conference for chefs on the science connecting the food they serve and the environment from where it comes.
“More and more chefs are counted upon for knowing what is going on in our food supply chain. I want to know more about the system. I want to know what I as a chef should be supporting through purchases,” said Douglas, who operates more than a dozen restaurants, hosts a radio show and markets his own line of kitchen products and cookbooks.
The event underscores the expanding influence of top chefs when it comes to consumer awareness about food: whether it’s grown locally, organically produced, or sustainably harvested from the wild.
That wasn’t lost on Douglas. He and co-moderator Thierry Rautureau said they think chefs can help consumers make environmentally sustainable choices by informing them about the options and spreading awareness about ocean health.
Conference panelists highlighted the effects of pollution on marine life and discussed strategies for protecting water quality to ensure safe seafood.
One panelist, Chris Wilke, executive director of Puget Soundkeeper Alliance, stressed the importance of establishing relationships with fishermen and suppliers to ensure an understanding of the seafood supply.
Douglas agreed, calling for a more transparent supply chain so consumers can enjoy meals, knowing their food wasn’t exposed to harmful pollutants or pesticides.
Douglas said he used to simply trust his suppliers to make the decisions about what products to buy, but he wants to be more involved in the purchasing decisions, ensuring that he’s supporting sustainable practices as well as offering high-quality seafood to this guests.
“In my mind, the better it is for the ocean, the better it is for us. And so at the end of the day I want to understand what that is,” Douglas said. “I think the fact that we have 40 chefs here today, there is a lot of thirst for the information about our food supply chain.”
In addition to the chefs, experts on environmental issues and legal representatives shared their perspectives on pesticide use and ways of keeping pesticides out of water and food.