About next week's featured Fresh Thoughts headliner, our very own executive chef Joseph Cotton:
Executive Chef Joseph Cotton started his love affair with food at the early age of 9, by making meatballs for a local deli. A Johnson and Wales trained Chef; his passion for fresh, local and eclectic food aligns with the Aquarium’s mission for their guest experience.
After his work in hotels, fine dining establishments and in special event catering, Chef Joseph opened JC’s Grill House in Newton, NJ, in the summer of 2007. His first solo business, the restaurant sat 150 guests, catered weddings and events onsite, and simultaneously operated as the caterer for nearby Bear Brook Golf Club. When he and his family moved to Maryland, Chef Joseph joined the National Aquarium family in December 2012 as the Executive Chef for our main café, Harbor Market Kitchen, as well as overseeing Harbor Market Catering.
Using sustainable and local products whenever possible including seasonal produce, artisanal cheeses, grass-fed beef, humanely raised poultry, sustainably harvested seafood and shade-grown coffee, Chef Joseph’s menus are not only delicious and innovative, but an extension of the Aquarium.
In preparation for next week’s dinner, we sat down with Chef Joseph to talk about how sustainable seafood is changing the culinary scene throughout the mid-Atlantic region:
What’s your favorite sustainable seafood ingredient to prepare?
Oysters are my favorite seafood to eat and also my favorite to prepare. I like how versatile oysters are - they can be fried, grilled, stuffed, raw or sautéed. In the summertime, I love to stuff oysters with local crabmeat and top them with a nice, light spinach cream sauce.
How is sustainable seafood playing a role in Baltimore’s dining scene?
Sustainable seafood is finally becoming a standard for up and coming restaurants! Not only is this a great trend for the industry, but it shows that there's a lot of awareness and demand from consumers.
What’s your biggest challenge when it comes to cooking sustainably?
The biggest challenge is definitely the availability of the product. By working closely with local fisheries, farms and distributors, we hope to see this problem solved in the very near future.
If everyone could walk away from our Fresh Thoughts dinner knowing one thing, it would be …
I hope that they walk away embracing the concept of "fishing today for a better tomorrow." My goal is that our guests leave satisfied and educated on how important sustainability is to the future of our ocean and the species that live there.
Tell us a little bit about Harbor Market Kitchen and how your team is always churning out such delicious meals!
It's very important to myself and my team to provide our guests with fresh, homemade meals that showcase the best that Maryland has to offer! Whether it's our members and visitors that come through the Aquarium everyday or our after-hours guests at catered events, we're dedicated to making sure every bite of food is high-quality and delicious.
To learn more about our sustainable seafood program and other conservation initiatives, click here.