A NEW BOOK BY JAMES BEARD AWARD WINNING CHEF ALLEN SUSSER RAISES AWARENESS WITH DELICIOUS RECIPES TO ADDRESS THE INVASIVE SPECIES OF LIONFISH
Miami – December 2019 – The story of the lionfish, like all good fish tales, is growing greater each day. These flamboyantly colorful fish with their diverse markings were originally bred in the Indian Ocean. But legend has it that they found their way over to us in the Caribbean when Hurricane Andrew liberated a handful of them from the aquariums of drug lords living in Florida. Since then, lionfish have bred prolifically in a ceaseless invasion of our seas from Florida to the West Indies.
“Lionfish thrive in the warm waters of the Atlantic and Caribbean and wreak havoc on our ocean ecosystems and fisheries, gobbling up reef fish, juvenile snapper, and grouper,” explains Chef Allen Susser. “With no known predators to stop them, the lionfish are more threatening than they are beautiful. We need to jump in and put these delicious fish on our dinner plates!”
Green Fig and Lionfish: Sustainable Caribbean Cooking (Books & Books Press) is Chef Allen’s answer to the lionfish challenge. The book features 70 environmentally-conscious recipes, including lionfish coconut ceviche, pan roasted lionfish with passionfruit, banana leaf grilled lionfish, and spicy lionfish tacos with mango chow chow. Created by Chef Allen as well as other prominent chefs such as Jose Andres, Eric Ripert, and Andrew Zimmern.
”Chef Allen has always been a champion of local, seasonal cooking, even before it was ’cool, says his friend Jose Andrés, owner of ThinkFoodGroup and humanitarian. ”With this cookbook, he is promoting something even cooler…the sustainability of the seas, one of our most important natural resources, by giving us many amazing recipes for the damaging (and delicious!) lionfish.”
“At Le Bernardin, we spend our days evaluating seafood, which means not simply the quality, but also the ethics and sustainability of how they are harvested”, says Eric Ripert, co-owner of Le Bernardin restaurant in New York. “We believe deeply in supporting the artisanal fishers that are seeking out the most sustainable methods and species. What we’ve recently discovered is that lionfish, an extremely invasive and detrimental species, are not difficult to catch and in fact have delicious and very versatile flesh. They are truly one of the best examples of sustainable fishing that I’m happy to encourage!”
Throughout coastal Florida as well as the Caribbean, coral reefs are home to a wide variety of plants and animals. Some of these reefs date back over fifty million years. Many of the small reef fish feed on the plants and tiny creatures that make up the reef. In the natural course of the food chain, little fish are nourishment for bigger fish. Larger fish become prey for larger sea creatures, and so on, up to the apex predators of the deep. Not only are the reefs at risk due to overfishing, pollution, and climate change, but lionfish are devastating many of the reefs in the Caribbean. They are eating many times their fair share of the nourishment present in the habitat. They have no predators in Caribbean waters and have become an invasive species.
“We need to step in and eat lionfish,” says Chef Allen. “My mission is to get people excited about eating lionfish and at the same time rewarding them for benefiting the environment sustainably. This cookbook is a practical guide to unpretentious fish cooking with big and bold Caribbean flavors.”
St Lucia’s Anse Chastanet and Jade Mountain resorts where Chef Allen is a consulting chef embraces the Eat Them To Beat Them approach. Their on property dive shop Scuba St Lucia offers a course where guests can learn how to catch this invasive species. Guests can also enjoy their catch with a delicious Lionfish multi-course dégustation menu with paired New World wines, in which they showcase the quality and taste of this very unique fish seated at a romantic beachside candlelit restaurant.
Bringing together the allure of the Caribbean Sea and Caribbean island life, Green Fig and Lionfish offers recipes for cooking with seasonal and unusual ingredients. “From Florida, throughout the Caribbean, and down to my home of Saint Lucia, Chef Allen Susser raises awareness of the real threat posed by lionfish and a yummy way to help eliminate it,” explains Nina Compton, Saint Lucian culinary ambassador and native, chef/owner of Compère Lapin in New Orleans. “Fortunately, the pesky invader is quite tasty, and Chef Allen’s fun recipes will brighten your table with their bold island flavors.”
Allen’s book takes what we have learned from overfishing and uses it to help the ecosystem, making it truly a book for our times, says Mark Kurlansky, New York Times bestselling and James Beard award winning author of Salt: A World History. “The idea and the recipes are not to be missed.”
Green Fig & Lionfish can be purchased at www.booksandbooks.com, as well as bookstores everywhere. The hard cover book retails for $34.95.
About the Author, Chef Allen Susser
Chef Allen Susser is a James Beard award-winning chef. He has a passionate commitment to local fresh ingredients. The New York Times called Allen the “Ponce De Leon of New Florida cooking.” His landmark restaurant Chef Allen’s forever changed the way people ate in Miami and affected how America eats today. Food & Wine magazine named Chef Allen “One of the Best 10 Chefs in America.” Chef Allen’s Consulting is a boutique sustainable restaurant and hospitality consulting firm, providing strategic initiative, culinary resources, and innovative direction for the industry. Allen is the consulting chef to Jade Mountain and Anse Chastanet, helping to create one of the most dynamic culinary destinations in the Caribbean. This includes pioneering Emerald Estate Vintage Chocolate, a bean-tobar authentically handcrafted organic chocolate from Saint Lucia in the West Indies. Susser is currently a Culinary Ambassador for the Monterey Bay Aquarium for its sustainable seafood watch. Allen recently was awarded a lifetime achievement award for his farm-to-table community involvement with Slow Foods. He received an honorary Doctor of Culinary Arts from Johnson and Wales University, as well as the President’s Award for community service from Florida International University. He was recognized as the humanitarian of the year by Share Our Strength for his commitment to End Childhood Hunger. Allen is the author of New World Cuisine and Cookery, The Great Citrus Book, and The Great Mango Book.
About Anse Chastanet
Anse Chastanet is set amid a lush 600-acre estate with two soft-sand beaches and breathtaking views of St. Lucia’s twin Pitons mountains, a UNESCO World Heritage Site. Amidst St. Lucia’s lush tropical beauty, activities range from jungle biking, hiking and bird watching to snorkeling on the reef within swimming distance of the beach. The environmentally friendly, award-winning resort comprises 49 individually designed rooms, 37 of which are scattered about a lush hillside, and 12 that are nestled within a tropical garden at beach level. Innovative menus – one of which is entirely vegetarian – are offered in four different locations and feature fresh produce served up from the resort’s organic farm. Guests can partake in interactive chocolate-making classes in the resort’s chocolate laboratory and a variety of watersports are also on offer.
About Jade Mountain
Rising majestically above the 600-acre beachfront resort of Anse Chastanet, Jade Mountain Resort on St. Lucia’s south-western Caribbean coastline is a cornucopia of organic architecture celebrating St. Lucia’s stunning scenic beauty. Architect owner Nick Troubetzkoy has expanded upon his philosophy of building in harmony with Caribbean nature in his creation of Jade Mountain St. Lucia. The bold architectural design – individual bridges leading to exceptional infinity pool sanctuaries and rugged stoned-faced columns reaching towards the sky – makes Jade Mountain St. Lucia one of the Caribbean’s most mesmerizing resort experiences.