Based on the fact that you want to read a blog about a dinner, we’re gonna guess that you’re already on board with us in believing that Food. Is. Everything. And when that food is something you can feel extra good about eating, not because of the calorie count but because of its impact on the region and oceans everywhere, well, food becomes everything and that much more.
Trash Fish celebrated its third annual dinner here in the Louies Modern dining room and just like years before it, it was a smashing success. The main point of the evening is education, and though learning alllllmost gets overshadowed by the night’s thoughtful menu and outstanding flavors, you know the mission was accomplished when every diner is exclaiming their newfound love of lionfish, skate wing, rudderfish, mullet, red drum and more. Trash Fish is an Edible Sarasota event which supports Chef’s Collaborative, a group of food professionals who care about sourcing, cooking, and serving better quality meals.
Truly, ‘trash’ fish is a misnomer, as there is nothing garbage about these species. Trash fish got its name from fish that were often underutilized, caught and released, or invasive species that often went overlooked as edibles when compared to the better known big guys like salmon, tuna, tilapia and others. This dinner aimed to bring awareness to these just-as-delicious delicate fishes while also spotlighting the fact that using these local options creates a more sustainable sea environment and help fosters financial gain in the community, as well as that whole ‘helping the earth’ bit.
Last Sunday, August 7th, seven chefs gathered to prepare and serve a truly sumptuous feast. Though the dishes were singular efforts on behalf of the chefs and the restaurants they represented, the collaborative teamwork amongst all hands on deck made the evening truly special. It wasn’t a cook-off competition, it was a group effort to ensure each chef’s dish had the chance to shine and show off what makes our local seafood so uniquely special.
Since education was a large component of the event, Mote Marine’s Senior Scientist & Program Manager, Dr. Kevan Main, discussed Mote’s red drum aquaculture program and Zookeeper’s Allie ElHage explained Florida’s lionfish infestation and solutions. Each chef took a minute to discuss their dish and give a few words on why it’s important to source these species. The hope is, education will lead to enlightenment and diners will continue to question where their food comes from and demand higher quality for both their ingredients and the environment from which they come.
We were so proud of our guys, Chef Jose Rojas and Chef Joey Egan, who put on quite a show by putting out a trio of dishes that were just as tasty as they were attractive. Eat with your eyes first is what they say, but a few bites in and it wouldn’t matter what those plates looked like because yum is yum and our chefs nailed it. Every dish from every chef was truly remarkable, hitting every note from savory to spicy, exotic to comforting, and fancy to finger food. There were no subpar dishes and no subpar moments in the evening. The dining room was alive with conversation and camaraderie, making Trash Fish one of Sarasota’s best annual events by far.
Here’s a peek at who served what:
Chef Erik Walker (The Sandbar)
- Caviar station with sturgeon rillettes
- Thai green curry mullet mousse
- BBQ mullet bellies
Chef Evan Gastman (The Cottage)
- Open Blue Cobia crudo, espelette pepper, truffle yuzu vinaigrette and jalapeno dragonfruit salad
- Pulled BBQ amberjack, corn cake, kale slaw and cottage BBQ sauce
Chef Mark Woodruff (MADE Restaurant)
- Wood fired drum, summer creamed corn succotash, candied Niman Ranch pork belly, Florida peach and red pepper relish with micro radish greens
Chef Jose Rojas & Joey Egan (Louies Modern)
- Lionfish ceviche with green apple, ginger and lotus root
- Lionfish summer roll with mint peanut pesto and red chili jam
- Lionfish tempura with truffled ponzu, coconut sirarcha and nori
Chef Steve Phelps & Chelsea Katanic (Indigenous)
- Savory waffle, buttermilk fried rudderfish, hot sauce hollandaise and maple syrup
Chef Paul Mattison & Alex Vasquez (Mattison's)
- Seared Skate wing with brown buttered-avocado honey, red beet-citrus relish and Fava bean purée
Chef Mark Majorie (Veronica Fish & Oyster)
- Wood grilled Atlantic Lane Snapper Indian Punjabi style, chickpeas, chermoula, preserved lemon yogurt and grilled naan with fine herbs
Donna Tortorice (PopCraft Pops) & Chef Steve Phelps (Indigenous)
- Gulf Coast Cheesecake Pop, blueberries, lychee nut, graham cracker 'sand'
TRASH FISH CHEFS
Chef Evan Blake Gastman, The Cottage // Chef Jose Rojas, Louies Modern // Chef Mark Majorie, Veronica Fish and Oyster // Chef Paul Mattison, Mattison's // Chef Stephen Phelps, Indigenous // Chef Erik Walker, The Sandbar // Chef Mark Woodruff, MADE Restaurant
The event had a lot of support from the community, including donated craft brews, wine, produce, spices, marketing and more. Thanks to all those who pitched in to make this third year event a hat trick to remember: Big Top Brewing Co., Big Water Fish Market, edible Sarasota, Gulf Coast Caviar, Hitched and Honey, J Dubs Brewery, Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch, Mote Marine, Pop Craft, Sarasota Seafood Company, Sea to Table, St Francis Winery & Vineyards, Sunfresh Produce, The Spice & Tea Exchange, Visit Sarasota