It appears the time for conscious consumption has finally arrived. It takes more than an overly hyped trend to make a much-needed impact on the sustainability of our resources; it takes a reputable industry thought leader to adopt it, less as a passing fad, but a well-intentioned food philosophy, and this is exactly what Bistro Sixteen82 is doing.
In an effort to source only seafood that is ecologically responsible and socially fair, chef Kerry Kilpin of Bistro Sixteen82 has joined forces with the WWF-Southern African Sustainable Seafood Initiative (Sassi) and traditional fishermen and women to pilot the Abalobi project.
Abalobi is a non-profit, community-driven initiative aimed at supplying restaurants with sustainable and traceable premium quality seafood caught by small-scale local fishers. The Abalobi project, and its subsequent adoption by Bistro Sixteen82, provides fishing communities on the western and southern Cape coast with a chance to trade with restaurants, offering the fishermen better prices for their fish, and improving their livelihoods.
Imagine being able to trace the catch of the day on your plate directly back to the local fishermen, discovering more about the species, and, more importantly, where, how and by whom it was fished. Using the Abalobi app, diners are able to scan a QR code at their table and get the full story of the fish on their plates as tagged and told by the fishermen and women.
On the day of my visit to the Steenberg-situated bistro, I had the curried baby calamari with baba ghanoush, avo pulp, soy syrup, and sesame seeds, which remains one of the bistro’s stalwarts, and always delivers on flavour. The sample of the seabream taco off my lunch guest’s plate was sublime, but the real gobsmacker was the sustainable fish of the day: a perfectly prepared fillet of yellowtail served on an Asian slaw. According to my QR code, the fish I was savouring had been caught that morning by David Nicolas Shoshola (a master fisherman of 30 years) in Lambert’s Bay.
This vividly brings to life, and to my plate, the term “From Hook to Cook”.