Tuesday, March 31, 2015

Boston Globe Fish Fry

So what did the catch look like?

"US aims to curb seafood fraud; New effort looks to track fish from source, prevent improper labeling" by David Abel, Globe Staff  March 16, 2015

Obama administration officials unveiled sweeping new measures in Boston on Sunday that seek to thwart rampant mislabeling of seafood and black-market fishing — practices that mislead consumers and cost the global fishing industry major losses each year.

The plan, laid out in a 40-page report released at an annual meeting of the seafood industry at the Boston Convention Center, aims to track fish and crustaceans from where they are caught to where they are sent.

A presidential task force drafted the plan, which will be launched almost immediately. It includes 15 measures to curb illegal fishing and fraud, including leaning on foreign governments to crack down on pirates stealing fish from other countries’ waters, and a new system to trace seafood before it enters US ports.

All seafood shipped to the United States will now be required to include new information, such as who the fishermen were who caught it, and when, where, and with what. That tracking data will be generated by federal, state, and local authorities and maintained in a central database.

I'm starting to feel sick.

The new measures come more than three years after a Boston Globe investigation revealed how restaurants and stores across Massachusetts had routinely mislabeled fish and sold cheaper, lower-quality seafood than they had promised their customers. A year later, a follow-up to that investigation found three-quarters of seafood samples taken from 58 restaurants and markets around the area had been mislabeled.  

I thought the fish dinner still smelled kinda bad.

Most of the administration’s measures can be implemented by executive authority, but some seek Congressional action. Among the lawmakers who lauded the new measures was US Senator Edward J. Markey, who said he would continue to seek new legislation to bolster the administration’s efforts.

The Obama administration has been criticized for eliminating special agents who investigate seafood fraud by nearly half in recent years. That has contributed to significant reductions in the number of prosecutions. 

Just eat the shit, will ya'?

“With this new plan, the left hand is doing one thing, while the right hand is doing another thing,” said Paul Raymond, a retired special agent who worked for NOAA for 26 years. “That doesn’t make any sense. We need more agents to do this work.”

In advance of the report, President Obama requested $3 million this year in his annual budget proposal to boost the number of agents investigating seafood fraud.

Environmental advocates welcome the additional law enforcement, but they said the true test of the administration’s new measures is whether they stop the flow of illegal fish before they enter the United States.

“We’re trying to fight the crime by prosecuting and denying the criminal profits,” said David Schorr, a spokesman for the World Wildlife Fund, an advocacy group....

Hasn't worked against drug cartels or banks, so you are probably better off catching your own.


RelatedEU continues to overfish despite commitments

But are they labeling them properly because the bold plan will require a global effort and a tour of the town will tell you how it has changed. 

So who is going to cook it up for you?

"Reality TV chef stirs pot, saves N.H. eatery; By the time the camera stopped, a partnership was in ashes, but this ‘Cow’ proved to be a phoenix" by Ray Carbone, Globe Correspondent  March 23, 2015

CAMPTON, N.H. — Newlyweds Kerry Benton and Jennifer Leonzi opened the Country Cow Restaurant a dozen years ago, just days after they married. Set in an idyllic spot at the base of the White Mountains, beside a covered bridge at the Pemigewasset River, the restaurant was an instant success.

But the marriage was not. Less than a year after the Country Cow opened, they separated. And as the economy went sour, so did the restaurant. They continued to run it together, but Benton’s admitted “anger issue” — regular outbursts in which he used abusive language with his coworkers and sometimes threw pots and pans — made for a troubled workplace. By last May, the couple was $300,000 in debt and desperate for a way out of their dilemma.

Enter celebrity chef Robert Irvine and his “Restaurant: Impossible” TV program on the Food Network.

Irvine is a British-born chef who gained fame in 2007 with his first book, “Mission: Cook!” Within months, the charismatic muscular kitchen guru was on the Food Network.

His current show is similar to popular food business revamp efforts such as Fox’s “Kitchen Nightmares” — struggling restaurateurs turn to a professional consultant who critiques their operation. On “Restaurant: Impossible,” his goal is to turn things around in 36 hours with $10,000 — not a lot of money in the food business.

Irvine and his producers go looking for drama — and they got all that they could hope for.

“It’s not that she [Leonzi] is a bad person,” Benton said on camera, “she’s just [expletive] lazy.”

In another, he hollers at her: “I’m tired of [expletive] working here and not having people that [expletive] want to come up to my standard!”

Leonzi had tears in her eyes during both sequences.


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She should consider herself lucky.

Both scenes were taped before Irvine even came on the scene. When Irvine arrived, he gave the co-owner/chef a choice: Change his behavior or leave the operation to Leonzi.

The next morning — in a sequence the owners didn’t know was being recorded — Benton sat down with Leonzi and Irvine on a picnic table behind the restaurant.


Not every New England eatery visited by Irvine was pleased. Michael Savoie of the former Stella’s Ristorante in Stratford, Conn., said the show misunderstood his demographics. And Janice Silva, a Massachusetts-based restaurant consultant who came in to help the former Chatterbox in Windham, N.H., weeks after Irvine’s visit, said the family-run business needed help running its breakfast/lunch operation; instead, Irvine tried turning it into an evening restaurant.

The popular chef has other critics, who point out he’s never owned a successful restaurant. In addition, a Florida newspaper in 2008 found that Irvine had exaggerated his background; he was suspended from the Food Network for a year after the discovery.

But Irvine said 70 percent of the places visited by “Restaurant: Impossible” report improved sales.

Those that don’t, don’t follow his advice, he added in a recent e-mail. “The owners get scared and go back to doing exactly what they were doing before I got there,” he wrote. “That’s a recipe for failure.”

Leonzi said she knows the temptation to go back to how things were done before is strong, and she admits that Irvine’s counsel did not solve every problem at the Country Cow. (She’s hoping to renovate the bar area soon, which was not even mentioned in the television episode.)

Hey, “the restaurant business is hard work.”


Sorry, folks, but I didn't like the atmosphere.

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