During their traineeship in Tokyo, Rudi van Beylen and Filip Claeys saw how selfish their Japanese colleagues could be. Fish of lesser quality is exported and the best fish is kept for themselves. Filip, who grew up in a fishing family, immediately saw how crazy it is to send second-rate fish to the other side of the world, especially to a country on the North Sea. Filip: "Upon my return, I immediately stopped serving overfished species like tuna and cod. At first, this cost me a lot of customers, but I persevered."
Filip recognised the need for a change in mentality and together with Rudi, he set up NorthSeaChefs, a collective of chefs and shipowners seeking to put lesser-known North Sea fish and by-catch on the menu. Every two months, NorthSeaChefs' culinary wizards receive a box containing 10 kilos of fish that usually would be thrown away or processed into fishmeal. These chefs then unleash their creativity and explore all the gastronomic opportunities these fish have to offer. The results are then shared with all of the members. Besides the chefs in the research team, there are also supporting members such as amateur chefs and fishmongers. This year also saw the release of the book 'Eigen vis eerst!' (Our Fish First), containing 100 recipes for North Sea fish. This initiative has now reached a wider audience. For example, the previously little-known bib has already earned its place in Belgian supermarkets. The NorthSeaChefs' bouillabaisse croquette – made from by-catch – is also a great success.
"Another issue that concerns us is the huge amount of plastic waste in the sea," adds Jens van de Ven, Operations Manager at NorthSeaChefs. "For this reason, all of our chefs receive clothes from Chaud Devant's RPB collection. These clothes are made from recycled plastic bottles, which is much better than having them contaminating the sea!"
Want to know more? Please visit www.northseachefs.be.