Dock to Dish Spears the Future of Sea-to-Table

As land-dwellers we have a 360-degree view of our agricultural landscape, an everyday convenience to absorb what is all around us: Amber Wave Farms is growing the season’s bounty, Browder’s Birds are grazing on pastures and in Montauk, N.Y. the fishermen are bringing fresh seafood to the docks. Nowadays, there are values that have gathered momentum in our agricultural landscape—“how was this tomato grown and who raised my chicken?”— is transferring over to the fishing industry. We know our farmers, but have you ventured beyond your local fishmonger and market and on to the docks to get to know your fisherman?

Well, this might be your chance. Dock to Dish, a CSF, community supported fishery, spears the future of sea-to-table by delivering fresh sustainably harvested seafood to your dish within 24 hours of being pulled from the ocean. 

And fish is not the only thing they are hooking into, awareness and education are on their radar. Every week a newsletter goes out to inform members of their weekly catch describing: who, what, when, where and why the fish was caught, a suggested recipe to go along with the catch, a sustainable write-up about the species and strict methods used during and immediately after capture. They are also dedicated to hosting a variety of events for members and guests about why it is so important to support your local fishermen and to become stewards of our seas. 

I was fortunate enough to attend their first event that celebrated the New York Times Best Selling book, Four Fish: The Future of the Last Wild Food at Canio’s Bookstore in Sag Harbor and to meet the author, lifelong fisherman and the book’s James Beard award-winning writer Paul Greenberg

There are many challenges we face in sourcing local, wild and sustainable seafood. "Today we take more seafood out of the ocean every year than the equivalent of the human weight of China,” says Paul Greenberg. His scientific investigation and insight into how four wild fish: salmon, tuna, bass and cod frequently end up on dinner plates and whether they can be brought back from the brink of extinction was fascinating. “Our menus will be shaped in the coming years by aquaculture, we can expect to see limited options listed as the catch of the day. Local seafood, not too much and mostly bivalves is what we should be eating,” he says.

“It meant the world for us to have Paul Greenberg as our first guest speaker,” says Sean Barrett, co-founder of Dock to Dish. “Four Fish was a motivating force behind our launch. Now, having met Paul, we are able to see the relationship deepen and our understanding of his amazing work expand. As we continue learning the myriad of benefits in knowing our fisherman, we can now apply that philosophy to Paul and advocate that our members really get to know thy author.” 

L-R: Melissa Hillmer, Paul Greenberg, Sean Barret, Laura Luciano, Ralph Towlen, and bottom row Jamie Pollack

When I looked across the intimate Canios Bookstore there were many like-minded and familiar faces: Top-chef and avid fisherman Kerry Heffernan, Editor of Edible East End , Brian Halweil, Culinary Nutritionist and the host of Stirring the Pot on WPPB, Stefanie Sachs and New York State Field Outreach Representative of Fisheries for the Pew Charitable Trusts, Director of Operations for Shark Angels and scuba diver Jamie Pollack. 

Jamie Pollack diving with sharks

“The majority of fishermen see the fish from the surface when its caught and find the fun of the sport in the fight of the animal, I see the beauty of marine life in its natural habitat swimming around and interacting with it's environment,” says Jamie Pollack

Ralph Towlen, a spear gun fisherman and co-founder of Dock to Dish knows first hand what is beneath the hull and swimming in our oceans. Spear gun fishing is the most sustainable fishing method known to man. “We have zero bycatch, can harvest exact amounts, are able to analyze fish schools to pick the biggest and healthiest, and at times gender specific fish. If we see a female is carrying eggs we let the fish live and procreate,” says Sean Barrett. “Our restaurant clients are serving the freshest fish to over 700 people a week, combined with our CSF that is 1,000.” Expect to see a variety of local Long Island and New England fishes year round, including: black bass, blowfish, bluefish, haddock, hake, monkfish, pollock, porgy, skate, striped bass, summer flounder, redfish, swordfish, tilefish, tunas, wreckfish, mahi mahi, mullet, snappers, triggerfish and wahoo.

Another bonus to spear gun fishing is their conservation efforts to reverse the years of damage to the oceans ecosystem and marine life from lost drag nets and traps; these items are retrieved by Dock to Dish divers any chance they can get.

Paul Greenberg touched upon the Magnuson-Stevens Act or MSA. This was a law that was passed in 1976 and sets the standard for conservation, management and sustainable fishing in U.S. ocean waters. This act:

  • Kicked out foreign fishing fleets.

  • Established our Economic Zone which is about 4 million square miles of ocean 3-200 miles offshore and

  • established 8 regional councils to govern this vast territory. These councils are made up of representatives of coastal state governments, scientists and fishermen.

  • Set annual catch limits and accountability measures and

  • gave fish 10 years to rebuild.

The MSA was reauthorized in 2006 and is set to expire at the end of Sept 2013. “To weaken this world-class model now would be to ignore the innovation and sacrifice of those who built it over time, says Jamie Pollack.

When Congress reauthorizes the Magnuson-Stevens Act, it should consider amendments to:

  • Minimize the habitat damage and bycatch of indiscriminate fishing.

  • Ensure that adequate forage fish are in the water to feed the larger ecosystem.

  • Promote ecosystem-based fisheries management.

This law has been proven to strengthen the health of our seas and Dock to Dish is a great example of a CSF who is following suit.

Paul Greenberg signed personal copies of his book for fans by request. Some read: Thanks for your work to protect our oceans. Because of you, the oceans are a better place. It is nice to know that the grassroots movement has hit our seas.

A few hours before the event I had received my weekly Dock to Dish newsletter informing me of my family share—4lbs of Golden Tilefish. I thought, “wouldn’t it be apropo to share the catch and have a dinner for friends and family, including Sean Barrett, the fisherman himself.” Fisherman to Dish—it does not get more tangible than that.

 While I was preparing our meal of: Arugula with Catapano goat cheese, beets and walnuts, grilled local sweet corn, North Fork heirloom cherry tomatoes, fresh mozzarella with homegrown basil, and pan seared Golden Tilefish with fresh herbs from Amber Waver Farms, friends and family were mingling. 

I observed something truly remarkable, a discussion around the meal we were about to have, in particular—the Golden Tilefish. Even my father who is an avid fisherman of these local waters learned a thing or two. Golden Tilefish is a deep-water delicacy; 250 to 1,500 feet deep where cold bottom temperatures range from 49 to 58 degrees Fahrenheit. What made the catch most special was who caught the fish—The Nolan Family of Montauk, N.Y. and where it was caught— in the Hudson Canyon. 

Sean Barrett, co-founder of Dock to Dish

Finally dinner was served; everyone grabbed a dish and helped themselves to the feast. As we sat down and took our first bite of this Golden Tilefish that has a sweet and mild flavor similar to lobster and crab; thoughts surmounted. “This is the freshest fish I have ever eaten” “simply awesome” “incredibly tender” “I never knew fish could taste this good”.  I would love to take all the credit and accolades for the taste of this truly spectacular fish; truth be told it is the fish that speaks for itself. There is very little you need to do to the fish when it is taken from the docks to your kitchen in a matter of hours— less is more flavor.

Over dinner we shared stories of past, present and upcoming future fishing trips; an evening I will always remember and cherish. I grew up fishing on the East End of Long Island, my fisherman and fishmonger is one in the same—my Pops. Similar to Paul Greenberg, my parents divorced when I was a child and his way to bond with my brother and me was to take us fishing; to this day all us kids still fish.

My brother and I fishing with Pops.

Brother John, Pops, Sister Kristin and Me

For Sean Barrett he saw his dream come to life; Dock to Dish created a dialogue around the dish, and before his eyes he saw first hand how he brought the sea-to-table.


Recipe for Pan Seared Golden Tilefish



  • Sea Salt and Pepper

  • 1 bunch of parsley and dill, chopped

  • 4 lemons and juice of 1 lemon

  • 1-2 tablespoons of olive oil



  1. Season fish with salt and pepper on both sides.

  2. Heat 1 tablespoon of olive oil in a large non-stick frying pan.

  3. Lay 2 fish filets skin side down and let sear until you see the fish turning white along the sides for about 5 minutes, or until the skin is crispy.

  4. Once the flesh turns white about 1/2 way up the edges of the fish, turn it over and cook for an additional 2 minutes. Repeat with remaining filets.

  5. Sprinkle with the parsley, dill and juice of one lemon over all of fish. Garnish with additional lemon wedges and finish with a sprinkle of sea salt.

That's it! 


Top Chefs from Manhattan to the Hamptons Cook for the 9th Annual Great Chefs Dinner

"Jeff believed that the growing, preparation and sharing of food is a primal human experience and the foundation of family and community" — Toni Ross of Nick and Toni's and the wife of the late Jeff Salaway

On Sunday, July 28, there were never too many cooks in the kitchen for the 9th annual Great Chefs Dinner to benefit the Hayground School's Jeff's Kitchen and the Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund. The cocktail and tasting party was held under a tent on the rural grounds of the Hayground School in Bridgehampton. A symphony of top chefs from Manhattan to the Hamptons rolled up their sleeves and cooked for a cause; signature hors d'oeuvres were made using the local bounty, while brewers, winemakers and specialty drink enthusiasts poured. The generosity from the community went beyond the taste of the tongue: a silent auction featured works by renowned local artists and other food-related prizes such as a Dock-to-Dish family membership package and a set of Wüsthof knives.

The human spirit soared for the love of Jeff Salaway and his vision for the Hayground School's most innovative feature; Jeff's Kitchen, a state-of-the-art professional kitchen and classroom supported by a science lab, two gardens, a slow food Farmtek greenhouse and hen-house. Jeff's legacy has left an impact on the East End community and attracts celebrity guests including; Alec and Hilaria Baldwin and superstar chefs, Tom Colicchio and honoree Eric Ripert; their presence created a moment of pause from the feast.

Honoree Chef Eric Ripert and Fisherman Sean Barrett of Dock-to-Dish

I and some other folks were fortunate enough to congratulate the honoree or even get a fan photo with the master chefs and the Baldwins'. Their time at the cocktail party was brief and they breezed through the tent to meet with their chef friends before heading over to the VIP dinner hosted by Toni Ross, honoring Four-Star chef Eric Ripert

The support of the East End community was outstanding; food frenzied fans were meeting the chefs and cheering on our local and regional food and beverage stewards for their contribution to the Hayground Schools biggest fundraiser. The school's unique culinary arts program focuses on sourcing food that is grown and harvested from its own gardens; it does not get more tactile than that. In the early 70's, the closest I got to an edible school garden were the dandelion weeds growing through the sidewalk cracks; little did my school know that these were edible. 

Eve in the Hayground School Garden. She is the daughter of Chef Arjun Achuthan, one of the founders of the Hayground School and director of the culinary arts program.

Jeff’s Kitchen has been the model for many of the edible schoolyard projects on the East End. This farm-to-table routine is a daily classroom ritual; students from the ages of 5-13 spend mornings and afternoons planning, budgeting and serving lunch to the entire student and teacher body. Such a simple and powerful concept; students learn how to grow, prepare, and cook the bounty of the East End—there is no mystery around—"where did that vegetable come from?" 

The first time I saw Jeff's Kitchen was in 2012 for a Slow Food East End Potluck Dinner; I was in awe and truly enamored with the schools mission:

"Our mission at Hayground is to provide an open, community school where conventional teaching methods are replaced by new ways of teaching and learning. We are committed to a program of innovation in a community of diversity, both economical and cultural."

I daydreamed on what it would have been like to attend a school with this type of out-of-the-box curriculum, especially for someone like me who was taught by conventional teaching methods and fed tater tots for lunch; I struggled. But what is most encouraging are the children who attend this school, they will be shining examples of what it means to live a sustainable and bountiful life. Jeff's Kitchen and culinary arts program takes the mystery out of the meat, and brings children, chefs and the community together over a shared love of food; these children are the next generation who will carry the fork.

Since the fundraisers inception, this event has raised over $1,000,000 for Jeff’s Kitchen and the Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund. If you missed this event, be sure to buy your tickets next year as Jeff's KItchen and culinary arts curriculum is a great example for our community and nation at large. Look at it as an investment for your future and your children's future.


Cocktail and Tasting Party Highlights

Foody's, chef Bryan Futerman and Hayground School chef Arjun Achuthan, and the Hayground School Kids. Tuscan Style Whole Roasted Pig and Hayground's Wood Oven Pizza

Chef Bryan Futerman and Kids from the Hayground School

Tuscan Style Whole Roasted Pig

Chef Bryan Futerman: There is so much to say about chef Futerman and his tremendous contribution as the educational coordinator for Slow Food East End; educating on the importance of edible schoolyard gardens. You can read all about him here. Now on to his whole roasted hog that was sourced locally. I tragically missed what the entire pig looked like as a whole, but I absolutely got to smell and taste this 6-hour, wood-fired roasted pig, porchetta-style with fresh lemon and rosemary. The pork sat atop a crostini that was drizzled with olive oil and the Hayground School kids made two sauces that was drizzled on top of the smoked pig: romesco and a kale pesto, all sourced from the schools garden. A sprinkle of rosemary flake salt, truly heightened the flavor of this "take me back to Italia dish", Bravo.

Chef Arjun Achuthan, manning the mobile pizza oven

Hayground Student who was serving the pizza and a man trying to get ahold of his cheesy pizza

Chef Arjun Achuthan: He is the co-founder of the Hayground School and the director of the culinary arts program. I met chef Achuthan at the Slow Food East End potluck dinner back in 2012 and was fascinated with their mobile pizza oven that I dream about having at Sheridan Green. The Hayground School kids helped with the making and plating of the pizza. Ingredients were locally sourced at: Mecox Bay Dairy for their sigit and fresh ricotta cheese that was made by Arthur Ludlow and Open Minded Organics, yellow and blue oyster mushrooms and black trumpet chanterelle mushrooms by David Falkowski. Chef Achuthan was a non-stop human machine, manning the pizza oven. The mushroom pizza and the tomato based pizza with eggplant and or squash were equally phenomenal. I would love to know how many pizzas were made that evening as the slices were flying off the table and the boy who served us was spectacular; his parents must be so proud.


Nick and Toni's, chef Joe Realmuto and chef Jessica Craig
Garden Basil Panna Cotta with Heirloom Tomatoes and Crisp Prosciutto

Nick and Toni's: Chef Joe Realmuto and Chef Jessica Craig

What a difference the weather makes as it was a perfect evening for this Savory Panna Cotta. Creamy, crunchy and refreshing all in one bite—well a few bites. I enjoyed the saltiness of the prosciutto that cut the creaminess of the panna cotta. The basil and heirloom tomatoes brought a summer brightness to the overall taste.

Wölffer Estate Vineyard
Classic White 2011, Rose 2012, Sagaponack Red 2011

Wölffer Estate Vineyard encompasses 55 acres and practices sustainable agriculture. Their wines are produced and bottled in Sagaponack, New York under winemaker and technical director Roman Roth. I tasted the Classic White 2011 and it was delightful; juicy, lush, fruity and crisp.

Almond, Chef Jason Weiner
Pikes Farm Corn Vichyssoise with Micro Basil and Marinated Sungold Tomatoes

What is so special about this dish? Feast with your eyes—it is so stunning! Reminds me of a beach summer sunset along the dunes of the South Fork. The depth of flavor unfolds a story of place; the East End of Long Island, fresh and bountiful. The vichyssoise is made from corn, local clam juice and potatoes from Bridgehampton. Then the soup is adorned with roasted lobster roe, basil oil from Pike Farm and micro-basil from Good Water Farms, Sensational.

Stone Creek Inn, chef Christian Mir and chef Robert Carpenter
Smoked Duck Loin with Sungold Tomato Confit and Pickled Watermelon

Chef Robert Carpenter in Action

I love anything duck and this was incredible.  On top of a thin crostini was the smoked duck loin that was perfectly cooked and the tomato and watermelon was placed on top. Great flavors from simple local ingredients; the tomato confit and the pickled watermelon had a unique flavor—would love to know how chef Carpenter prepared these—the tomatoes with the watermelon was a perfect combination; pungent, sweet and savory. The contrast between the smoked duck with the fruit was smart; the balance of ingredients was lovely. 

Ms. Michelle's Urban Gourmet, Michelle Gillette and Christopher Kelly
Organic Gluten Free Desserts

Owners and Bakers: Michelle Gillette and Christopher Kelly

I loved their desserts as much as I admired this couples enthusiasm and spirit for all things: sweet, natural, healthy, organic, locally sourced, 100% gluten and soy free, all the time! And the best part is—you would never know these desserts were gluten free— visit their store in Bayport, NY and give it a try, I promise you will never know. French Macaroons graced the table; the pistachio and lemon flavor was light and lots of punch, delectable. I could not peel myself away from the handmade mini-chocolate containers that held peanut butter whip and a drizzle of raspberry preserve; so elegant and light. Michelle and Christopher are getting married on August 10th and I have a hunch that their wedding cake is a peanut butter and jelly cake. For all of you lucky guests attending their wedding in Cutchogue, New York—forget about the chicken dance—you will be doing the peanut butter and jelly jig instead.

Topping Rose House, chef Tom Colicchio and chef Ty Kotz and Team
Beet Risotto, Catapano Dairy Farm Goat Cheese and Roasted and Raw Beets

Chef Ty Kotz and Staff

It was a celebration at the Topping Rose House table with chef Kotz and staff. There was a genuine camaraderie amongst this team and it was just as bright and fresh as their amazing beet risotto. The beets were picked from the Topping Rose Farm that day; farm-to-table within seconds. This is a beet lovers dream and mine came true. A beat risotto, with roasted beets and shaved raw striped beets and to top it off my favorite local goat cheese from Catapano Dairy Farm; heaven. I am looking forward to visiting with the Topping Rose House and if I am lucky, maybe chef Kotz will show me how he made his beet risotto.


Plain-T, Alessandro Teixeira
Artisan Ice Tea: Mango, Pure White, Pure Green and Passion-fruit

This tea is a healthy non-alcoholic alternative to any meal and looks gorgeous in a wine glass. I found the Pure White tea to be light with a fresh and smooth velvety flavor. This tea is low in caffeine and a great antioxidant. 

VerTerra, CEO, Josh Parker
Eco-friendly Dinnerware

Josh Parker, CEO of VerTerra

Finally, a dinnerware that is environmentally friendly. The design is absolutely gorgeous and comes in a variety of shapes. The plates used for the Chefs Cocktail and Tasting party was VerTerra. The dinnerware is modern and allows the food to be the star. I love a product you can compost, however I would have a hard time throwing them out as they are so beautiful. This would be the product I would use for our —not yet announced Sheridan Green party.

Lure Fish Bar, Chef Josh Capon
Blue Point Oysters

I am learning to enjoy oysters; slowly but surely I am getting there and chef Capon's bite may have done it. The oysters were fresh with a firm texture; a sweet aftertaste that sparkled with salinity.The oysters were topped with a jalapeño ponzu sauce and a pineapple relish that added a spicy kick. Keep on the look out for Lure Fish Bar at Miami's Loew's Hotel.

I met Leeann last year at the Harvest East End; it was my first event and blog post for Out East Foodie. She is the author and true ambassador for the chefs and artisanal growers of the Hamptons and Long Island; stories about their connection to the land and sea and the growers who inspire them. Some local chefs that were at this event are featured in her homegrown book: chef Lia Fallon, the Riverhead Project, chef Bryan Futerman, Foody's, chef Jason Weiner, Almond and chef Realmuto, Nick & Toni's. Leeanne sold two cases of books and 10% of the proceeds went to the fundraiser pot for Jeff's Kitchen and the Jeff Salaway Scholarship Fund. Honoree Eric Ripert made a special stop at Leeann's table and stated, "He loves the book". That is a true testament from the Four-Star Chef; a book that you can only love, cherish and cook from. If you want a copy of this fabulous Hamptons & Long Island Homegrown Cookbook you can order it here or you can email Leeann Lavin at to get an autographed copy.


I did not attend the VIP dinner, but you can see some of the images here.