To spawn each year, sockeye salmon embark on a harrowing journey to Bristol Bay. In order to vet its salmon suppliers for a major restaurant chain, Cuisine Solutions traversed the same territory - all in the name of quality and sustainability.
Cuisine Solutions buyer and former chef, Vincent Mallard, says true Alaskan sockeye is superior to other options because the fish are part of the natural ecosystem. “The farm-raised salmon - the feed they give them pollutes the ocean. [But] the Alaskan salmon feed on shrimp... it’s sustainable fishing.”
A very special salmon-sourcing adventure began for Mallard in late August a couple years ago, with a flight to Anchorage, where he, the company’s CEO, and the president chartered an old Cessna plane to carry them between the small fishing islands cradling the Bering Sea.
Over the course of a few days, Mallard and team learned a lot about the characteristics of the sockeye that appear here during the six-to eight-week-long fishing season. They also took a few cues from salmon - avoiding bears (some islands have as many as 500), weaving in and out of hoards of fisherman, and learning to cope with unexpected travel delays (like shacking up in a trailer on a flightless, foggy night).
“I’ve been sent to go see where our grains are sorted, to bacon plants, to cattle ranches, and it’s pretty unique for a company to do that with their buyers,” says Michael Kelsey, who is Mallard’s co-buyer at Cuisine Solutions. For Kelsey, the commitment to responsible sourcing and quality foods - and the relationship between the two - is what sets the company apart: “Most of the people here are chefs [himself included], and they understand that there’s a connection between the people and the product.”
Cuisine Solutions prides itself on finding the best quality raw material, which leads to an exceptional end product.
Photo credit : Wikimedia Commons