Sea Notes has been taking a break, not just for Memorial Day weekend, but to recover from an amazing set of Cooking for Solutions events at Monterey Bay Aquarium. This year's program -- from a daylong Sustainable Foods Institute for members of the media, through a culinary gala with celebrity chefs, weekend food and wine adventures, and the fantastic finish at the Sustainable Seafood Challenge (our own Iron Chef-like event) -- was far and away the best in the seven-year history of the event.
Everything about the celebration draws inspiration from our Seafood Watch program. We celebrate around food and wine not only because it's a delicious way to gather people together, but because of the fact that everything we eat (how it's grown, how it's caught, how it's transported) ultimately has an impact on the health of the oceans.
For three days, we raise important food & environment issues for journalists in a series of expert panels, we wine and dine Cooking for Solutions attendees wtih gourmet organic cuisine, and we honor chefs who are helping transform the culinary world through their restaurants, books, TV programs, cooking classes and -- overall -- their leadership in the field.
The Food Network's Alton Brown was our special guest, and an amazing advocate for Seafood Watch and the sustainable foods movement. Whether it was diving in the Kelp Forest or emceeing the Sustainable Seafood Challenge with Hawaii's Sam Choy, he was both delightful to be around, and a staunch advocate for sustainability.
"This card changed my life," he said at our celebrity chef awards ceremony, holding up a Seafood Watch pocket guide. (And if it can change his life, what can it do for yours?)
Ireland's Darina Allen was our Chef of the Year -- an inspiration through her Ballymaloe Cookery School in County Cork, which is set amid 100 acres of organic farmland. (Her influence even spread to the Salinas Valley, where one young man was inspired to create a series of farmers markets because of things he learned at Ballymaloe.)
Much more to share, including the abundant reactions of media participants, who've been blogging like crazy about what they learned.