Chef Xavier Deshayes partners with the National Aquarium to harvest Lionfish

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Chef Xavier Deshayes, Executive Chef for the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, is going to the Bahamas to capture the venomous lionfish.

In cooperation with the National Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts Dinner Series, Chef Xavier Deshayes, Executive Chef for the Ronald Reagan Building and International Trade Center, is going to the Bahamas to capture the venomous lionfish. This special excursion, part of the National Aquarium’s Fresh Thoughts sustainable seafood dining series, highlights potential ways to reduce the environmental threats posed by this invasive species to the Atlantic, Caribbean and Gulf of Mexico ecosystems through removal programs including harvesting the lionfish as a seafood delicacy and resource.

The trip will chronicle the “ocean-to-plate” journey of the lionfish from capture and handling to preparation and serving with Chef Xavier. These events culminate in the first of three Fresh Thoughts Dinners on March 3, 2011 at the Aquarium. In addition to the three-course fine dining experience featuring pan-seared lionfish fillet, Chef Xavier will demonstrate and discuss the culinary uses and preparation of lionfish as well as share insights gained during the trip including meetings with US and Bahamian officials, local chefs and restaurateurs.

The Indo-Pacific Red Lionfish (Pterois volitans) has few native predators in the Atlantic. Consequently, it is now establishing itself along the entire east coast of the United States, as far east as Bermuda and south beyond the Bahamas to the entire Caribbean damaging coral reef habitats. Because of its delicate buttery flavor, one of the more promising ways to reduce the threat posed by this invader, is through increased usage of lionfish as food. In Bermuda, the“Eat ‘em to Beat ‘em”! phrase was coined to promote awareness of the lionfish invasion. The National Aquarium in partnership with the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) and the Reef Environmental Education Foundation (REEF) are in the forefront of studying this invasion and ways to reduce and mitigate its impacts.

Tickets for the Fresh Thoughts Dinner Series are available for purchase on the Aquarium website at http://www.nationalaquarium.com. The ticket price ($79 for members/$89 for non-members) includes a cocktail reception, three-course dinner paired with wines and a private tour of the Aquarium. Seating is limited to 80 guests. The second dinner in the series will be held on Thursday, April 20th and feature National Geographic Fellow, Chef Barton Seaver.

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Kelly Morris
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