Midday on the Bay: Natives, Invasives and Overall Health

In case you missed it, here is the link (Thursday April 19th) to hear my fave Chef Chad Wells talk about the invasive snakehead fish on Midday on the Bay. “If you can’t beat ’em, eat ’em!”

Rona Kobell, from the Bay Journal, was on the show as well and shared some great news: There are 66% more blue crabs (764 million) in the bay since last year and the best year since 1993 which reveals that the restrictions made in 2008 were successful! As far as the report card grade, well… we can’t control major weather events. Sigh.

Lots of very interesting conversation about bay health and how policies and threshold limits have helped maintain and improve that health. Some big things coming up surrounding menhaden protection too.

If you are interested in helping to maintain health by invasive snakehead eradication, support Chef Chad at Alewife Baltimore and consider getting a team together for the Potomac Snakehead Tournament this June.

Do you think Omega Protein the Monsanto of the waterways?

Super-Sized Snakeheads

Check out the size of these invasive snakehead fish brought in from the Potomac Watershed by a ProFish Blue Cat Fisherman. Alewife Executive Chef Chad Wells (pictures) says these are the biggest he has seen and reminds us that there is nothing in the Potomac that can compete with these creatures:

“I’ve seen thousands, caught and cooked hundreds. This was the scariest batch I have seen. One of these weighed over 12 pounds after it had been gutted – so it was probably over a 16 pound fish. It scares me when I see size like this on these fish. It goes to show how fast they grow. There is nothing native to the Potomac that can compete with fish like this. Even scarier? They are only going to get bigger and more abundant.”

Food = Art

I’ve been a fan of Baltimore’s own Chef Chad Wells, Executive Chef at Alewife, since I heard he was sauteing snakeheads in an attempt to eradicate the invasive fish and working with the Department of Natural Resources to promote menu items centered around local seafood species. Turns out his sustainable initiatives aren’t limited to the sea.

Earlier this month, Chef Wells teamed up with Joe Squared at Power Plant Live to host a “Campfire Dinner” in conjunction with the new monthly event promoting local talent called Food = Art. The inspiration for January’s event was to take people camping by using food you can kill yourself – all cooked in a way that can be duplicated deep in the woods – with limited local ingredients, cast iron pans, smoke and fire. And boy did they pull it off!

The constant-campfire vibe of the event, which included an all-evening performance of folky, old-timey, American awesomeness from The Manly Deeds, was authenticated with each family-style entree arriving in foil and with a single utensil per diner – a fork. If that weren’t enough, several people at our table were involved with the meal on a personal level. Mike Naylor, the DNR’s Chief of Shellfish Programs, foraged the morels that accompanied the trout dish. Austin Murphy, Pro-Staffer for Whackfactor Outdoors, “harvested” the main ingredient in the venison stew in Flint Hill, Virginia.

So in case you haven’t heard: wild game dinners are the new black. Here is the full menu for those of you anxious to recreate the deliciousness with your own circle of hunter-gatherers:

Hot Mulled Cider, Honey Comb Infused Bourbon

Hickory Smoked Trout, Pan Fried Wild Morels, Roasted Beets

Wild Duck Cast Iron Mac and Cheese, Two-year aged Grafton Cheddar, Grana Padano, Duck Confit

Fire Roasted Quail, Sweet Potato, Chorizo and Granny Smith Apple Stuffing, Smoked Pork Belly BBQ Baked Beans

Venison Stew, Dutch Oven Chipotle Corn Bread

Smore Dessert, Graham Cracker, Dark Chocolate, Marshmallow, Candied Bacon
To keep up with Food = Art events, ‘like’ them on Facebook. Most photos displayed in this post, with the exception of a few, are from the artistic view of Sean Scheidt See more of his images from the event here.