Walking into the Blueacree Seafood restaurant in downtown Seattle, my photographic eye lit up at the incredible contours, lines, graphics and colors creating the atmosphere. I was there to meet Kevin Davis, head chef and owner, along with being the owner of the Steelhead Diner just a few hundred feet up the hill from the Pike Place Market.
I contacted Kevin as part of the fieldwork for my Bristol Bay project. An avid fly fisherman, Kevin features a lot of Alaskan seafood on the menu at his restaurants. He first heard about the Pebble Mine issue while watching the movie Red Gold. Since then, he has become a culinary warrior in the effort to inform the public about the proposed Pebble Mine, often partnering with Trout Unlimited as part of its campaign to stop the mine’s development.
One of the dominant features in the Blueacre restaurant is a large marlin. One would think that a restaurateur who emphasizes sustainable fisheries would not have a marlin on the wall, but he placed it there is a reminder of how species are impacted by overfishing pressures caused by demands in the restaurant industry.
Kevin sees the development of the Pebble Mine as a threat to the sustainability of the Bristol Bay sockeye fishery, as well as the world class sport fishing represented at numerous lodges in the region. At my request, he prepared a dish featuring a filet of Alaskan sockeye salmon, served with some vegetables and a glass of Pinot Noir. I long ago envisioned a line of photos showing the progress from where a sockeye is caught in Bristol Bay waters to where it was served on a restaurant in Seattle – this completed the loop. It was also incredibly delicious.
When I mentioned to Kevin how many of the fish mongers at Pike Place Market were offering Alaskan seafood, he noted that Alaskan seafood is very important to the Seattle market. Decades ago, the Puget Sound region had its own vibrant fishery, including Chinook (king) and sockeye (red) salmon, but it had been severely impacted by urban pollution and natural resource development, such as logging. Seattle purchasers looked to Alaska to fill the gap, and now Seattle visitors go to Pike Place Market and various Seattle restaurants specifically looking for Alaskan seafood.