Food Events

Vitaly Paley Is Starting a Sustainable Seafood Festival

The first annual confab, developed in collaboration with the James Beard Foundation's Smart Catch program, will happen this June at Headwaters.

By Ramona DeNies May 9, 2019

Salmon processing

Portland chefs nominated for 2019 James Beard Awards may have left Chicago empty-handed this week. But Vitaly Paley, at least, arrived back in Portland with big news: this June, he'll be helping to spearhead Sustainable Seafood PDX, a new, multi-day event that, Paley says, will aim to “share food, drink, and wisdom about the health of our oceans, while celebrating our abilities to invoke change.”

Organizational partners for the confab, which will take place June 21-23 at Headwaters in the Heathman Hotel, include the James Beard Foundation's Smart Catch initiative and the Monterey Bay Aquarium's Seafood Watch. 

Paley says the concept is to focus each year on different species. For the inaugural 2019 event, the spotlight will be on salmon and shrimp, two iconic species that open the door for conversations both global and local. The event will feature panels with fishery experts, along with a six-course grand dinner, a brunch with blinis and Bellinis, and—for participants purchasing the full weekend package—field trips to places like the Oregon coast and Columbia Gorge.

“There are so many species out there, and big questions like farmed versus wild,” says Paley. “We're hoping to demystify some of that. And our job as chefs is to make it delicious.” 

Chefs participating in the festival so far include Nodoguro's Ryan Roadhouse, Maya Lovelace of Yonder, Gregory Gourdet (Departure), Jacob Harth (Erizo), Zoi Antonitsas  of Seattle's Little Fish, and Paley's team of chefs from Headwaters, Rosa Rosa, Paley's Place, and Imperial.

The event kicks off with the “World of Shrimp” on Friday, June 21. On hand to break down the world's most popular fishery will be panelists including Corey Peet of the James Beard Foundation Smart Catch program, along with Noemi Jenkins of Pacific Seafood and Brandon Hill of Bamboo Sushi. The concluding Sunday morning event, “Salmon on Salmon Street,” will feature a conversation moderated by Sheila Bowman of the Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program alongside a Bellini-fueled brunch. Each panel event can accommodate up to 100 people; the road adventures are capped at about 40 participants. 

“I'm hoping this can become a fairly big annual event right around the beginning of summer,” Paley says. "There are things at stake, and the education has to happen, but in a light-hearted way. People have to feel good about it.”

Sustainable Seafood PDX

June 21–23, Headwaters, Heathman Hotel

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