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The Montauk Fishburger: Sustainable Local Food for School Lunches

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An alliance of Hamptons chefs has come up with a plan to introduce area students to sustainable local eating. They have partnered with the Long Island Commercial Fishing Association and the Bridgehampton Edible School Garden program to make wild, sustainable, traceable local seafood accessible to area youth.

Dubbed "The Montauk Fishburger Project," the program will serve 250 Bridgehampton students this month. The prototype fishburger, which includes only local species of wild finfish that are rated sustainable by the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Association, is an adaptation of a recipe provided by chef Eric Ripert of Le Bernardin. It will be served to students on sustainable bread rolls created by visionary chef Dan Barber of Blue Hill Restaurants, utilizing organic flour from indigenous strains of wheat harvested at Amber Waves Farm in Amagansett. The fishburger will also include aquacultured kelp from the Long Island Sound, grown by ocean farmer Bren Smith in the Thimble Islands.

Program founder Joseph Realmuto, chef and owner at The Honest Man Restaurant Group, says, "We are in the middle of a movement to bring back our long lost farming and fishing culture here on the East End. Two things that have stood in the way of returning local seafood to our households and school system has been the amount of labor that goes into preparing fish dishes, along with a resistance from younger people to try foods that they are unfamiliar with. The Montauk Fishburger Project finally solves those problems. We can create them with a relatively low amount of labor and, more importantly, the fishburgers are delicious. In the end, good taste and flavor are absolutely mandatory requirements to successfully convincing students not only to try, but to actually like, and to continue eating healthy dishes."

Judiann Carmack-Fayyaz, Environmental Design Teacher and co-founder of the Bridgehampton Edible School Garden program, and Jason Weiner, chef/owner at Almond Restaurants, worked closely with Sam McCleland, chef and owner of The Bell and Anchor in Sag Harbor, to create special signature sauces for the students after sourcing a range of local toppings for the Montauk Fishburger Project from Amber Waves Farm and Quail Hill Farm in Amagansett.
· The Long Island Commercial Fishing Association [FB]
· Thimble Island Oyster Co Practices 3D Ocean Farming [CH]