When it comes to eating sustainable seafood, "trash fish" still doesn't usually make it to menus. That won't be the case on Monday, July 28 when the Chefs Collaborative Denver Trash Fish Dinner takes place at the Squeaky Bean at 6 p.m., highlighting these underutilized species. The event is made possible by the Chefs Collaborative, an organization that works to fix the broken food system in the U.S. by involving a network of chefs, one of whom is Kelly Whitaker of Basta and Cart Driver.
Whitaker joined the Chefs Collaborative last year, after attending the annual Sustainable Food Summit on a scholarship in Charleston, South Carolina. He also participated in a previous trash fish dinner in Los Angeles, and wanted to bring it to Denver. After reaching out to both local and nationally recognized chefs, the exciting lineup will include Mike Lata of FIG and the Ordinary in Charleston; The Kitchen Denver's Kyle Mendenhall; Theo Adley of the Squeaky Bean; Lumiere's Michael Leviton in Newton, Massachusetts; Chris Thompson, who will head Hotel Teatro's the Nickel; and Stephen Stryjewski of New Orleans' Cochon and Peche, which was named the Best New Restaurant in the country by the James Beard Foundation this year.
As a sponsor, local purveyor Seattle Fish Company will provide the seafood for the evening, but trash fish can be hard to come by, so the chefs will tap their creativity to cook the dishes out of anything from Asian carp and North Atlantic dogfish to porgy. Whitaker says, "By-catch was one thing but trash fish was another....These are species of fish that farmers are selling that just aren't cool enough to make the cut. They're sustainable, there's plenty of it, it's delicious, but they're just not cool."
Hosting at the Squeaky Bean will keep things fun and irreverent, with the out-of-town chefs coming to the heart of Denver. The Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch will be on hand to speak about sustainable fish, and the chefs will also talk through the courses and interact with guests.
Tickets for the five-course meal cost $125 per person and are available on the Chefs Collaborative website, along with more information. There will also be a VIP oyster reception beforehand from 4 p.m. to 6 p.m. at The Kitchen, for a suggested donation of $50 or more. The money raised goes back to the Chefs Collaborative, inspiring and educating those in the industry to change how they source, cook and serve food. The organization has taken on issues like GMOs, fracking and growth hormones and antibiotics in meat.
In addition to the trash fish dinner, the Chefs Collaborative will also host its 6th annual Sustainable Food Summit in Boulder from September 28 to 30, where Colorado's culinary landscape will be explored.