Kitchen Shrink

“Only when the last tree has died and the last river been poisoned, and the last fish been caught will we realize we cannot eat money.”Cree Indian Proverb

A recent locavore soiree titled “Sea-to-Table” — a UC San Diego Director’s Circle event hosted by Scripps Institution of Oceanography (SIO) at the Robert Paine Forum with sweeping views of the Pacific Ocean — had a guest list that read like a Who’s Who of sustainable scientists and foodies.

Local purveyors, restaurateurs, chefs, mixologists, philanthropists and professors contributed their edibles and cooking skills, generosity of heart and spirit, knowledge of sustainable practices, environmentally responsible ethos, and marine research programs to bolster the quality of our lives and the health of our planet.

Meeting, greeting and tasting at this event made me feel empowered as part of the solution to the problem of climate change and its horrific effects on ocean marine life.

Amro Hamdoun, associate professor of toxicology at SIO said, “Our health as humans is closely linked to the health of the oceans. They are an important source of food, and the way in which we treat the ocean environment determines both the quality and quantity of food that we can harvest from them.

“Research on marine organisms has also been important for improving human health. Historically, studies at SIO have led to a wide range of relevant discoveries from new drugs based on natural marine chemicals to new insights into the treatment of infertility.”

Margaret Leinen, SIO director, and UCSD vice chancellor, was particularly excited about oceanic research sourcing marine materials to create a super antibiotic with the potential to ward off MRSA, an antibiotic-resistant bacterial infection.

The theme of the event, “sustainability in our food, ecosystem and environment,” was incorporated in both sweet and savory delights. Here are some local tidbits that were shared during the evening.

San Diego has been blessed with a bounty of organic farmers who offer their delectables at farmers markets and natural food stores. We have the luxury to live on fresh-picked produce that will not only be supporting these farmers, but also reducing the carbon footprint (i.e. polluting long-distance transportation).

Pescavores can appreciate such purveyors as San Diego-based Catalina Offshore Products, a fine fishmonger distributing sea treasures from southern California and Baja fishermen, such as jumbo scallops, lobster, masago and stone crab. Other local collaborators included Acacia Pacific Aquaculture, Carlsbad Aquafarms, Baja Seas, Baja Wine Food, Janice Dodge, Go Green Agriculture, Planet Rooth, Specialty Produce, and Tuna Harbor Dockside Market.

Back at the party, the gourmet food stations included wood-charred sweet potatoes with pickled fall vegetables and pistachio pesto (by Chad White, executive chef at La Justina and Común); spiny lobster tacos with chipotle drizzle, jalapeno slaw and tomato mint salsa on a house made corn tortilla (by chef Trey Foshee, George’s at the Cove and Galaxy Taco); raw sea urchin with pickled cactus nopales, jako baby fish, flying trout roe, red ogo lettuce and kelp with yuzu vinaigrette (chef Andrew Spurgin of Bespoke Event Styling); and “surf and turf” with yellowtail hiramasa Baja with chiles, lime juice and coconut drizzle (Javier Plascencia, executive chef at Misión 19, Finca Altozano, and Bracero).

For dessert, a melding of sweet and spicy flavors from a corn tres leches with vanilla bean chile anglaise (by chef Mary Kay Waters of Waters Fine Catering).

Recipe: Sustainable Seafood Taco

Here’s an easy, armchair chef’s riff on Trey Foshee’s lobster taco your family will fall for hook, line and sinker. (Serves 2)


1 large lobster tail (spiny preferable), steamed and cut in coarse chunks

1 avocado, sliced

1 cup of cabbage, shredded

3 Roma tomatoes, chopped

1 handful of fresh cilantro, chopped

1 jalapeño pepper, seeds removed, diced

1/3 cup of mayonnaise

Juice from 2 limes

1/4 teaspoon each of cumin, chili powder and sea salt to taste

4 corn tortillas

Method: Assemble five small mixing or prep bowls. In one place the lobster chunks. In the second the avocado slices. In the third blend the cabbage, juice from half a lime and half a jalapeno. In the fourth combine the tomatoes, cilantro, juice from half a lime and sea salt. In the fifth, blend the mayo, juice from a whole lime, remaining jalapeno, cumin and chili powder. Construct the tacos starting with a corn tortilla, and layering the lobster, avocado, slaw, and tomato mixture, and drizzle with mayo sauce. Garnish with cilantro if desired. Lobster can be substituted for other sustainable catches like blackcod or rockfish (1/3 pound per person).

—For other environmentally-friendly recipes, e-mail