Living on the coast means looking at an infinitely changing landscape. From shifting harmonies of grey verging on black, sky blue and ultramarine, or turquoise, milky white, emerald green, and sometimes even deep violet, both the sky and the ocean melt together, separate, and merge again. Nothing is permanent; everything moves, and changes. My years on this earth have taught me that what is true of the eternally shifting canvas that is the landscape, is also true of life. For me, life beside the ocean means embracing the idea that from one minute to the next, everything changes.
For twenty-six years, I was a chef of the sea. Being a chef of the sea means not betraying the integrity of the fish, and respecting the product just as much as the environment it came from. In the history of humanity, the ocean has provided for a large part of our subsistence. However, according to SeaWeb Europe, an environmental organization for the protection of the oceans, "Ninety percent of the world's fish supplies are either overfished (29%) or fished to their maximum (61%). Closer to home, in the North-East Atlantic region, almost forty percent of the fish stocks are overfished." As chefs, we play an important role in the conservation of these resources, because we are the link between the networks of production and the consumer. Chefs today must choose species whose stocks are traceable and in good health, and they must not hesitate to accustom their guests to the flavour of new types of fish, ones that are not in danger. There are more than twenty thousand species of fish in the world, and we only eat about forty of them!
Mackerel is one of the rare fish that are self-sufficient, and whose supply is not in danger. So cook away! Marinated, jellied in white wine, or simply grilled on the barbecue: it is delicious in every way. The little ones are the best (called "lisettes" in France); you can tell they are fresh when there is a bit of a curve, and by their blue-green colour with reflections of silver. Locally farmed mussels are another species that can be eaten without reserve. Raised on plankton-rich sea water, and continually shuffled around by the tide as it rises and falls, the ones from the Northeast Atlantic are some of the most succulent I've ever tasted. As for the so-called "noble" fish, the European lobster is in plentiful supply, as its production is very tightly regulated. We must, however, avoid buying females with the eggs inside, or the ones that haven't reached maturity. On the Emerald Coast, which I tend to refer to as my wild fish pond, the nicest catches can be found within the triangle of the Cap Frehel, Les Minquiers and the Pointe de Grouin. I have always made the effort to work with suppliers who respect living beings and their diversity. Since 2010, I have committed myself to SeaWeb Europe and the Ferrandi French School of Culinary Arts by creating the Olivier Roellinger Competition for the Conservation of Ocean Resources. Every year, the competition serves to make new generations of chefs more conscious of the fragile nature of the world's ocean resources, and of the direct role that they play in the industry. When we cook fish, we give the gift of the ocean.