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Credit: Aaron Barr

Trafalgars Bistro is a staunch supporter of sustainability and only serves Ocean Wise seafood on its ever-changing seasonal menus

Trafalgars Bistro's seafood offerings have been 100 percent Ocean Wise since 2006 and its annual Ocean Wise celebration dinner, now in its third year, showcases the variety and quality of sustainable seafood available to restaurants and consumers alike

I first stopped by Trafalgars Bistro last year to talk to general manager Andrea Thorgilsson about its incredible recycling and composting program.

Using seven different recycling streams and an industrial-size composting machine, it is able to divert 100 percent of its organic waste and about 98 percent of its remaining waste from the landfill. Its virtually un-used garbage can is about the size of a soup bowl.

But its devotion to Mother Nature doesn’t stop there. Its menu is another testament to its commitment to responsible practices.

All of its meat is sourced from local, sustainable, small producers and is all unmedicated. About 20 percent of its produce is organic (much of it sourced from Cherry Lane Farms in Richmond when in season), and all of its seafood has been Ocean Wise for over five years.

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The heavenly display case at Sweet Obsession boasts dozens of delectable treats, many of which are available for dessert at nearby Trafalgars Bistro. (Image: Sweet Obsession)

It also has over 35 made-from-scratch items on its dessert menu from its bakery, Sweet Obsession, only two doors down. But I digress.

Ocean Wise is a Vancouver Aquarium conservation program that equips restaurants and consumers with the latest research-based information on choosing sustainable seafood.

Thorgilsson says the first annual Ocean Wise celebration came about because they “wanted to showcase the Ocean Wise program and show the amount of variety that is possible adhering to their protocols.” Says Thorgilsson, “Even though they don’t mandate 100 percent compliance to call yourself ‘Ocean Wise’, we have always been 100 percent on-board.”

And the variety that’s possible while adhering to the Ocean Wise protocols was beautifully highlighted at the seven-course third annual Ocean Wise celebration, prepared by new executive chef Matthew Villamoran and team, which my husband and I attended. 

Trafalgars Bistro and the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program Coordinator Co-host Celebration Dinner

Villamoran collaborated with Teddie Geach, the Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise Program Coordinator, for both the Ocean Wise celebration menu as well as Trafalgars’ regular menu.

Albion Fisheries is Trafalgars’ seafood supplier and for the Ocean Wise celebration dinner provided halibut from Haida Gwaii, prawns and caviar from the Sunshine Coast, scallops from Qualicum Bay, sea urchins from the northeast Pacific Coast, albacore tuna from the Comox Valley, and mussels from Salt Spring Island.

"Since 2006 Trafalgars Bistro has long been a strong supporter of Ocean Wise and we applaud their commitment to providing a 100 percent ocean-friendly menu,” says Geach, who also co-hosted Trafalgars’ Ocean Wise celebration dinner. "Working together with chef Villamoran, Trafalgars Bistro remains committed to educating and empowering consumers about the issues surrounding sustainable seafood in our oceans," says Geach.

Chef Villamoran's Collaborative Kitchen Serves Up Original and Creative Menus with Pride

Villamoran, a first-time executive chef, deeply impressed us not only with his commitment to sustainability – he’s a strong supporter of local producers and says Trafalgars’ pioneering recycling and composting program are one of the big reasons he took the position last September – but also with his wise approach to team management and engagement.  

He regularly meets with the entire kitchen team and asks for their ideas and suggestions. With at least eight new menus a year in addition to special event menus like the Ocean Wise celebration, this collaborative environment not only leads to original and creative menus, but also gives the team a sense of ownership and pride in their work.

And hopefully some of that creativity also spills over to the guests. Villamoran says that chefs are putting sustainable food into the collective consciousness, educating and empowering guests to try things they might not try at home – like cuttlefish ink, sea urchin foam, and lobster-infused ice cream.

These were a few of the items on the inspired Ocean Wise celebration menu that were new to me, and you can read on for a vicarious taste of the rest of our brilliant meal – the pulled pork-style Bourbon and maple braised sockeye salmon was surprisingly wonderful – which was $65 per person and $30 for an optional wine trio of Burrowing Owl’s absolutely delicious Pinot Gris, Chardonnay, and Pinot Noir.

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Amuse Bouche: deep fried halibut. (Image: Aaron Barr)

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First Course: Prawn duo of prawn terrine with black mayonnaise (cuttlefish ink) and chorizo-flavoured prawn roll (corn dog-style) with house cocktail sauce. (Image: Aaron Barr)

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Second Course: Kombu-cured scallop with sea urchin foam and watercress. (Image: Aaron Barr)

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Third Course: Tuna duo of salt cured albacore tuna with sturgeon caviar and yellow fin tuna tartare with quail’s egg. (Image: Aaron Barr)

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Fourth Course: Grilled sturgeon with white bean puree, puttanesca agnolotti, and pickled white asparagus. (Image: Aaron Barr) 

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Fifth Course: Bourbon and maple braised sockeye salmon (pulled pork-style) with sweet potato chips, and carrot dill mousse. (Image: Aaron Barr)

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Sixth Course: Seafood Paella with turkey and pork house-chorizo, clams, mussels, tuna, and sturgeon. (Image: Aaron Barr)

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Seventh Course: Dessert of lobster and apple pound cake, raisin puree, and lobster-infused vanilla bean ice cream. (Image: Aaron Barr)

Trafalgars Bistro is located at 2603 West 16th Avenue, and is open for lunch and dinner on weekdays and for brunch, lunch and dinner on weekends.

For more information on its menus and special events, visit its website.