Szechuan Chongqing is first Chinese restaurant to go Ocean Wise
Will their decision towards fin-free, ocean-friendly cuisine spur some change in Vancouver?
From left: Kevin Huang, Shark Truth's Director of Campaigns, Executive Chef Robert Wong, Lisa Wong, Marketing Manager for Szechuan Chongqing,Tara Teng, Miss World Canada 2012, Mike McDermid, Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Partner Relations Manager
Ocean Wise has seen unprecedented growth with Chefs Nationwide taking up the charge and supporting sustainable seafood from Victoria, British Columbia, to St. John’s, Newfoundland. Chef Robert Wong, of Szechuan Chongqing is one of these chefs fighting for the cause and cooking sustainably.
“We’re very proud to offer ocean friendly seafood options as part of our evolving menu. Over the years we’ve seen culinary practices change and today we’re making an important commitment to provide sustainable options to our customers. We hope that they consider Ocean Wise choices while they dine with us.”
This is a particularly special partnership because Szechuan Chongqing is the first Chinese restaurant in Vancouver to join the sustainable food movement in collaboration with Ocean Wise.
“We support the efforts that they are making towards more sustainable seafood. Together we’re supporting a transitioning from unsustainable fishing methods in our oceans to more sustainable fishing methods, so that we can enjoy seafood for generations to come,” explained Mike McDermid, Vancouver Aquarium's Ocean Wise Partner Relations Manager.
We’re very fortunate here in B.C. to have many great sustainable options, from well-known sea creatures to off the radar selections. Sablefish, aka “black cod”, is a prime example of a very sustainable seafood that is a favorite of many chefs due to its high oil content. Chef Robert Wong offered the guests a seafood demonstration with sablefish, showing us how to prepare it for cooking.
Chef Wong also prepared a few sustainable seafood items for guests to sample, all of which will slowly begin to show up on their menu.
cocktail citrus lemon juice with hint of fagara spice
SABLEFISH IN CHILLI SAUCE
fried fillet in minced yellow onion in chilli sauce
SPICY ROCK SALT CALAMARI
deep fried calamari with rock salt and pepper
EMPEROR STYLE SZECHUAN PRAWNS (my favorite)
spicy prawns with hot chilli lantern peppers
MUSSELS IN SZECHUAN BOUILLABAISSE
simmered in Szechuan soup broth with leeks and bean sprouts
HAND-MADE PEONY PASTRY W/LOTUS PASTE
hand-made fluffy pastry designed as a flower
Chef Wong realizes that things don’t just change over night and believes that a slow and steady road to becoming Ocean Wise is integral. Taking his customers on the progressive journey towards sustainability with the restaurant is both good for the world’s oceans and good for business. Ten years ago they eliminated Shark Fin Soup from the menu quietly so as to not upset traditions but to take a step in the direction of a more sustainable kitchen. Chef Wong has progressed further and now sources his seafood from Albion fisheries, a company who has made a solid commitment to sustainability. They too feel that sustainability and related issues concerning seafood should be regarded as a key focus now and in the future.
“It took us a long time (a year) to commit to the Ocean Wise program, mainly because of our parents and explaining to them why we wanted to do it.” Cultural differences and traditions are a main factor in why many Chinese restaurants have yet to become Ocean Wise. Mike McDermid, hopes that this new partnership with will start a trend and we will soon see more Chinese restaurants opting to be Fin-Free and Ocean Wise.
Shark Truth, a non-profit group that has worked on many important issues of ocean conservation and that support the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise efforts, were happy to celebrate the addition to the family. Kevin Huang, Shark Truth's Director of Campaigns, said a few words about Szechuan Chongqing’s decision to go Ocean Wise, touching on the importance of being fin-free.
Miss World Canada 2012, Tara Teng, was also in attendance to celebrate with the restaurant, as she is passionately concerned about sustainable seafood and supports ocean conservation.
The event was generously supported by Mission Hill Family Estate, who were pouring their Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Gris (shown below) and the Mission Hill Reserve Pinot Noir.
For more photos from the celebration check out my Szechuan Chongqing gallery on Flickr.
About Chef Robert Wong
Chef Robert Wong has grown up living, eating and breathing Chinese restaurants. A fourth generation chef, Chef Wong was raised on traditional Chinese dishes, first in Winnipeg and then in Vancouver. Chef Wong now leads an innovative team at The Original Szechuan Chongqing Seafood Restaurant, a well-loved and established family business with nearly 30 years of history in Vancouver.
“I feel I was born to be a chef. I have always loved food and cooking is the passion I enjoy most. I have been blessed to meet so many amazing chefs, sharing the skills they had earned in Hong Kong, China and around the world.”
Chef Robert Wong has many accomplishments under his belt, including being the youngest Chef to be named one of the “Top 100 Chefs in China”. In addition, his former restaurant, Chilli Fagara, was awarded its first Michelin Star in 2009, becoming the world’s first Szechuan restaurant to receive the prestigious honour. He earned it again in 2010 and 2011.
About The Original Szechuan Chongqing Seafood Restaurant
The history of the restaurant begins with the tale of the hard-working immigrant family of Bor and Kai Wong. Fresh from Hong Kong, with three kids, five hundred dollars in savings, and a cold place named Winnipeg, Manitoba to call home, the Wong family opened the doors of the first Szechuan Chongqing in Vancouver in 1983. Moving locations twice more, the family settled into the current West Broadway location for 20 of their near 30-year history. For three decades, the Wong family has been proudly sharing delicious Szechuan cuisine with West coast diners.
About Ocean Wise
The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean friendly seafood choice. With over 500 Ocean Wise partners at more than 3,100 locations across Canada, Ocean Wise makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the
health of our oceans for generations to come.
The Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program works directly with restaurants, markets, food services and suppliers to ensure they have the most current scientific information regarding sustainable seafood and to help them make ocean-friendly buying decisions. The options are highlighted on their menus and display cases with the Ocean Wise symbol, making it easier for consumers to make ocean-friendly seafood choices.