Paddy Glennon: A Champion for Sustainability

Patrick “Paddy” Glennon has been in the restaurant business for 26 years but that has not diminished his passion when he describes food, the environment and sustainability. Beginning his career at age 19 with chef mentors Bruno Cirino and Jacques Maximin, he continued his education for the next 5 years in France and around the world. Sporting his trademark mohawk and enthusiastic personality, Paddy has been featured on several television shows, magazines and is a constant speaker and educator on sustainable seafood. Paddy is the VP of Sales at Santa Monica Seafood Company and founder of the Culinary Liberation Front (CLF), a group of chefs who have joined forces within their respective communities to “promote environmental initiatives in the restaurant industry and promote nutritional education.”

They encourage local, sustainable, consciously-sourced and responsible menus in order to create a more sustainable world. This lofty goal is all part of Paddy’s desire to have people think responsibly and more connectively to the food they are eating. He wants people to support the chefs and restaurants that are buying and sourcing responsibly.

While talking to him you can sense his dedication and wealth of knowledge about seafood, as he describes the different organizations and fisheries that are trying to fish and farm responsibly, and make an effort to truly be sustainable. He states that most restaurants are buying internationally because it is cheaper, disregarding the local fish that are in season, delicious, and sustainable. Swordfish is available from local fishermen, but restaurants are buying it from international fisheries instead, where they create a gauntlet for migrating leatherback turtles.  Paddy worries that chefs today are losing connection with the fish; they are buying fish that are sold in fillet form, failing to look the fish in the eye, and greatly reducing the ability to determine whether it is actually the species they think they’re buying.

It is Paddy’s goal to put the face back on the fish, to inspire people to be connected to the food they eat, and for customers to support the people who are doing the correct job. He wants to show the path of the fish from ocean to consumer, and he describes how it is so difficult for fishermen to work directly with the restaurants; which rarely buy from local sources like farmer’s markets anymore.

However on a positive note, Paddy describes a younger generation of chefs who are in tune and connected to where their food comes from, and he hopes this generation will be the future of the restaurant industry. He also describes how there are sustainable fisheries out there; the consumer just has to be willing to put in the time and money to look.

Chefs buy the fish that are cheapest, which are often unsustainable, and it is up to the customer to ask questions and look for the responsible options, which can often be more costly, but add health benefits. Fisheries such as Skuna Bay in Vancouver are Best Aquaculture Practices (BAP) certified , a qualification given by the Global Aquaculture Alliance. Skuna Bay offers farmed salmon that are kept in pens at 70-80 ft. depths with a feed-protein ration of 1.2lb-1lb (the typical farmed salmon feed ration is 17lb-1lb feed-protein). They keep their pens under typical pen density, which provides a much lower ph. balance, and use “foraging” techniques to decrease extra feed falling through the pen and contaminating wild fish. These are only partial illustrations of their practices, which are all exemplary explained Paddy, and just one example of how fishing can be done sustainably.

Paddy’s goal is to create a seasonality chart that shows different waters and what the fisheries can manage sustainably. By doing this he hopes that ultimately chefs will look to seasonal and local fish, instead of buying internationally and unsustainably. It is Paddy’s belief that the community, culture and environment could benefit from a more sustainable approach to eating and by providing information though CLF he can forge relationships with local farmers and educate other chefs about featuring local and seasonal produce and fish on their menus. It is chefs like Paddy who inspire others to think beyond cost percentages and look to the true inspiration of a sustainable ocean, and true delight in food.

 Herring from Hastings Fishery

Photos by Marine Stewardship Council, Muy Yum, and Culinary Liberation Front, via Flickr, Creative Commons License

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