Eco-Savvy Chefs Swim Upstream for Sustainable Sushi

Bon Appétit Management Company sushi chefs take the plunge to support national sustainable sushi guide launch

Palo Alto, Calif. (October 22, 2008)— Sushi is in a class of its own for fish lovers -its meteoric popularity has inspired eaters from Connecticut, to Idaho, to Oregon to leap into uncharted culinary waters.  But the dark side of this adventurous eating is even worse than a soy sauce stain: environmental destruction.  Many popular sushi fish—including shrimp, salmon, and tuna, known as the “big three” in conservation circles—are potentially the most environmentally harmful due to damaging fishing and aquaculture practices. How to satisfy diners’ appetites while protecting ocean ecosystems? Chefs at Bon Appétit Management Company cafés all over the country rise to the challenge by sourcing sustainable fish and encouraging sushi lovers to experience a new wave of flavors and preparations.

Visionary chefs at Bon Appétit find ways to meet consumer demand for sushi while adhering to the company’s strict, mandatory sourcing guidelines—even for the “big bad three,” and even in landlocked locations like Ohio. Bob Lubecky, chef at Case Western Reserve University in Cleveland, uses only wild sockeye salmon caught by boat off Lummi Island using solar powered cranks, sustainably farmed shrimp from the Texas-Mexico border, where the wetlands filter pollution from the water, and, tuna that is flash frozen at sea and shipped, rather than flown.

The sushi program at Oracle Corporation in Redwood Shores, California is even more ambitious. Oracle’s chefs skillfully entice diners by emphasizing alternative ingredients and focusing on Asian vegetables. Using traditional sushi techniques, the master sushi chefs at Oracle revamp standard preparations with local, sustainable, and surprising ingredients like grilled eggplant with miso, and Chinese long beans from a local farmer paired with fried tofu made from California-grown soybeans.

“It’s become part of our culture in California to think carefully about what we eat, which makes it easy to keep customers happy while living up to our company philosophy of socially responsible sourcing,” says James Fujii, Executive Chef at Oracle Corporation for Bon Appétit Management Company.

But it’s not all up to chefs. Consumers must do their part too. And now they’ll have help with three new sustainable sushi guides that will reinforce the efforts of ethical chefs like those at Bon Appétit. Respected conservation organizations Blue Ocean Institute, Environmental Defense Fund, and Monterey Bay Aquarium all released guides on October 22nd. Every Bon Appétit Management Company cafe that serves sushi will make the guides available to diners in November.

“Eco-savvy eaters will now have the information they need to make responsible sushi choices. The guides include both the English and Japanese names for the fish, so our diners can learn which sushi fish is OK to eat. Our goal is to prove that you can indulge your sushi cravings without harming the planet,” says Helene York, Director, Bon Appétit Management Company Foundation.

Sustainable seafood isn’t new for Bon Appétit. Sustainable seafood has been a  mandate since 2002. Under the company’s Low Carbon Diet Initiative launched in 2008, chefs have taken seafood sourcing challenges to new heights. They must now source the majority of ingredients from North America, phase out air-freighted seafood (in favor of flash-frozen at sea and shipped) by spring 2009, and emphasize plant-based foods as the lowest carbon options. The new guides are a valuable development because the complexity of sushi has made it the final frontier for otherwise eco-conscious eaters. The guides will help sushi lovers “vote with their chopsticks” for more planet-friendly sushi.

“Bon Appétit Management Company is again leading the charge in ensuring that their seafood offerings come from environmentally responsible sources by adhering to Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch Sushi pocket guide,” says Jennifer Dianto Kemmerly of the Sustainable Seafood Initiative for Monterey Bay Aquarium.

About Bon Appétit Management Company

Bon Appétit Management Co. ( is an onsite restaurant company offering full food service management to corporations, universities and specialty venues. Bon Appétit is committed to sourcing sustainable, local foods for all its cafés throughout the country. A pioneer in environmentally sound sourcing policies, Bon Appétit has developed programs with Environmental Defense, the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch, the Humane Society of the United States, and other leading conservation organizations. Based in Palo Alto, CA, Bon Appétit has more than 400 cafés in 29 states, including Oracle Corporation, American University and the Getty Center.