Guy Harvey Magazine

WIN 2012

Guy Harvey Magazine is focused on fishing, boating, scuba diving, and marine conservation. Portfolios from the world's best fishing photographers, articles on gear, travel, tournaments, apparel, lifestyle, seafood recipes, sustainable fisheries.

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Page 73 of 83

MEET THE CHEF EATING THE ENEMY BY SUE CUSHMAN PHOTOS BY ALLISON NICKELL Fleet Landing is a trendy, waterfront restaurant known for its seafood, chic décor, and stunning views. It has been recognized by the likes of Food & Wine Magazine, and caters to a casual crowd with a discerning palate. Chef Drew Hedlund turns out southern seafood in a style that somehow manages to be both classic and hip, and has caught the attention of Charleston, South Carolina, foodies. Lately, the buzz has been increasing because of one unusual item on the menu…lionfish. Hedlund, a graduate of Johnson and Wales, is originally from Naples, Florida, and has a passion for sustainable seafood. He is proactive about sourcing and serving sustainable products, and Fleet Landing is a platinum partner in the South Carolina Aquarium's Sustainable Seafood Initiative. Keen to conservation issues, Hedlund was receptive when Sous Chef Brian Barber first suggested putting lionfish on the menu. The emerging poster child for invasive species, lionfish are native to the tropical Pacific, but are currently enjoying a population explosion in the Caribbean and warmer waters of the Atlantic. They are largely indiscriminate and voracious predators, and, thanks to their large, venomous spines, have few natural enemies. The result has been a growing impact on native species. In desperation, scuba divers have begun to spear lionfish, and in the last few years, chefs have discovered their flesh is mild, firm, and delectable. Each time Fleet Landing has put lionfish on the menu they have sold out, with patrons e-mailing and calling asking for more. Barber, who has done extensive research on lionfish, has also been speaking with officials from NOAA and contacting fishermen as far away as Mexico to source the fish for the restaurant. On a recent visit, I was fortunate enough to sample this bothersome predator in a variety of preparations. Each was divine. The flesh itself is mild and white with a wonderfully moist texture similar to grouper, with the sweetness that reminds me of snapper. In Fleet's Ruby Red Grapefruit Lionfish Ceviche, it was stellar. Unlike some of the other species used for ceviche preparations, the lionfish remains firm and intact after several hours of marinating in the sweet juices of the citrus. Also on the menu was Yukon Gold Potato Encrusted Lionfish, served with braised purple cabbage and local heirloom tomatoes with a pan au jus. The lionfish was very mild and succulent and perfectly paired with the Chef Drew Hedlund & Sous Chef Brian Barber, Fleet Landing. subtle tartness and sweetness of the cabbage. The final dish was lionfish served with a basil and sun-dried tomato polenta cake, with grilled asparagus and charred tomato and kalamata olive vinaigrette. The fish was still the star of the show as these bold flavors with the aged balsamic and vinaigrette were poured over the fish. Until recently, Hedlund and Barber primarily received lionfish from lobster fishermen in the Florida Keys, who found it as by-catch in their traps. Now, the chefs are encouraging local dive shops—from South Carolina all the way to Cancun, Mexico—to target the lionfish, and as a result, the restaurant is getting a more steady supply. Suffice it to say, Charleston's foodies couldn't be happier.

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