Get Fresh with Brian Malarkey

Brian Malarkey wants the old format back ... and schools you on sustainable fish.

on Oct 22, 20090

This episode was all about sustainability, and I am a huge fan of Rick Moonen and all that he's does for the movement. As a seafood chef, I follow the guidelines, except I still have to wean myself off of Yellowfin, Bigeye, and most importantly, Bluefin Tuna!

We will discuss our healthy alternatives and the correct approach to the proper care of our ocean and seas.  But first, let's talk about Restaurant Wars and how we might try to save it for the future, so that our loved ones and family members can enjoy watching talented chefs create great and awful restaurants, melt down, freak out, cry, laugh, and do the impossible by building, opening, and operating a restaurant in a matter of hours.

Congratulations to Michael and the Revolt team for their win, and to Tom for saying it was the best food he has ever had in six seasons of Restaurant Wars. Note that he did not say the best restaurant he had been into in six seasons, because they did not build the restaurant. They borrowed a fully equipped and operational restaurant that allowed them the time and energy to focus on the food.  Speaking for myself and a whole bunch of Top Chef alums, “You had it EASY!” This was like shooting fish in a barrel!   sustainable fish that is!  We had to go to Pier 1 and buy our plates, flatware,and glasses, then pair wines, and create the entire look and feel of the restaurant. We had to pick out our linen, and the worst of it all, we had catering servers who knew nothing about fine or even casual dining! We did all of this while half our team prepared a bigger menu then you had!

So Tom and the rest of you at Bravo and Top Chef, "you replaced our Bluefin with Tilapia and I still have a bad taste in my mouth!" The show is called Top Chef and not Top Cook or Top Scallop (love you Fabio!), and chefs are the full package and not just great cooks. They have to put it all together, Michael showed the gumption for this and that is why he won, but I would have loved to see what he could have done with a lot more on his plate, like a real restaurant WAR!

Breathe! Now let's talk about how we can Get Fresh and stay fresh while eating responsibly so that future generations can enjoy the bounty of the ocean. Rick Moonen handed out the cards made by the Monterrey Aquarium that list fish to stay away from, which fish are in danger, and which fish are strong and being managed properly. The basics are: The Russians and the Chinese are destroying our seas because they catch everything and throw out what they don’t need, killing the masses.

We have done tremendous damage to our waterways also, but we are trying to correct our wrongs. The most impressive fisheries on the planet are in Alaska. They do a great job of limiting catches of king crab, snow crab, halibut, salmon, and Jen’s trout — black cod, also called sablefish. It’s important to be knowledgeable about what you are eating, but don’t be the fool who comes to our restaurants and tries to educate all of your friends that we shouldn’t be serving sea bass because it is endangered. You are of course confusing your Chilean Sea bass with the infinite number of sea bass that are properly managed. Don’t try and turn your friends on to Atlantic farm-raised Salmon over wild caught because farmed fish sounds more sustainable, when in fact the Atlantic Farmed Salmon has caused innumerable problems to the indigenous fish of the Atlantic by polluting the local water ways.

The best way to get the right answers is to find a chef who you trust or the local fishmonger (butcher) and ask them, do your research because it is your responsibility to your planet, your family, and your friends. Seafood is the ultimate "Healthy"; it’s the final frontier of wild food and we need to cherish it! Get involved and Stay Fresh!

8 comments
Best Restaurant
Best Restaurant

I appreciate the information you provided about sustainable seafood. It was educational and well-written. The rest of this post, however, sounds a bit jealous and insecure. There was nothing wrong with this format of Restaurant Wars. The teams still had to create and design a menu, manage the wait staff, take on front of house, etc. The only thing they did not do was shop for decor...which, to be honest, no team on any season has ever done a spectacular job. If you're seriously comparing your season and this season as Bluefin vs. Tilapia, it's THIS season that is the Bluefin. And you should probably re-watch the judge's table...Tom actually said, "Across the board, best restaurant war RESTAURANT we've had in six seasons."

Top Scallops
Top Scallops

That was a good read. This episode felt more like a "cook for 30 people" challenge than "open a restaurant."

It would be great to see a compromise in the future. Give them 2 days, 1st day they can figure out the menu, shop, and set the restaurant. 2nd day they open. That would let the whole team work on the decor.

Front of the house is always an issue, it would be awesome to see them bring back former contestants like Fabio or Dale who were good in the front of the house and let them take the front so the chefs can focus on the food.

Melissa T.
Melissa T.

I totally agree with Lynda S. The decor is not as important as the food and, frankly, I felt it was unfair to previous seasons to make chefs who obviously aren't decorators chose the decor for the restaurants. I also liked that they made the front of the house person responsible for one of the dishes. Maybe in your case that would have saved you and your team, but don't think that just because you guys had it tougher means that it was right. I would have thought you would have been supportive of the change as it allows the food to be the focus of the CHEFS while leaving the decor to the ppl who it should be left up to- the DECORATORS.

Anne
Anne

Brian - it would have been really helpful if you included a few links to useful websites to help us identify sustainable seafood, rather than forcing everyone to start the research from scratch. I think you might have forgotten that most of us don't personally know chefs (especially those of a caliber that might have this information at their fingertips) and that for most of us, the local butcher is a man behind the counter at Ralphs or Vons, etc. who barely speaks English and definitely isn't interested in discussing the meat with customers even if they could communicate. - Anne

Francisca
Francisca

Brian,

I completely agree with you RW is about EVERYTHING, the decor included. Yes, it is Top Chef, but as a Top Chef you should be involved in every aspect of your restaurant. It is interesting to see how some Chetestants are very proud about opening their own restaurants (whihc they should be), but when it comes to the decor during RW. . .lets face it they bombed. Leaves you thinking "really you opened a restaurant?" Not! Next.

Lynda S
Lynda S

Interesting blog... I preferred this RW without the actual building up a restaurant. It takes time away from menu planning and food prep. For, me the cooking is much more important than the decor. In your season, both nights, you didn't cook a thing! Maybe, that is why you feel the full concept is more taxing than the actual preparation of the food to plate.

Theresa H.
Theresa H.

I don't know that much about seafood (I live in the middle of the midwest, so I don't have the freshness of the sea in my backyard), but the sustainability movement sounds very interesting. I'll have to read up on it more.