Blue Fin Tuna

Sep 21, 2007 by Chef Michael

Sometimes I pinch myself to see if I’m dreaming! Just a few days ago we began shooting our new series, Chef Abroad. If you’re a fan of Chef at Large you’ll love the new show as we show off culinary adventures all over the world. Before Christmas I’ll be in Egypt, Jordan, California, Tokyo and somewhere in the Pacific Ocean on an aircraft carrier. Unbelievable. And it all started in my own backyard…

Our first shoot this week was in North Lake, Prince Edward Island. After living here for 15 years I finally got a chance to go fishing for a Bluefin tuna. After 14 hours, 14 miles off shore, 5 different boats and an epic struggle we landed one. Simply one of the most amazing things I have ever seen. Our story will now follow the 880-pound tuna to the worlds largest fish market in Tokyo, Japan and ultimately onto the tables of a nearby sushi market. A real adventure, but I have mixed feelings about the fish.

The Bluefin tuna we caught fought hard for three hours. It circled our boat underwater at the end of a 1500-foot line that eventually became a 10-foot line. I’ll never forget seeing the first glimpse of the majestic fish appearing 30 feet or so down as a giant silver shape swimming in the deeps. Or the adrenaline once we got it along side, as it’s powerful tail splashed up a 12-foot wall of water before we managed to land it.

I have always advocated respect for ingredients as an integral part of cooking in general. By the time we got that fish wharf-side I felt like I really knew it. It had spirit, determination and personality. All of which seemed to disappear with just a few cuts of a chain saw as it’s tail, head and fins were trimmed away to fit into an airfreight container. It was unexpectedly demoralizing to see the fish stripped of its identity and reduced to a commodity. I still enjoyed a good feed of sashimi from its head meat though – perhaps feeling a little guilty.

I guess what I’m saying is that as I head off on the adventure of a lifetime over the next few years, visiting every continent for Chef Abroad, I expect to reveal a deeper side to our food every step of the way. I won’t shy away from the reality behind the obvious and I invite you to join me next fall when the show goes to air. I’m sure there will be lots to learn about food and ultimately about ourselves.