Executive Chef, Monterey Bay Aquarium
Finalist, Seafood Champion Awards Vision Category
Matthew Beaudin is leading the shift to local and sustainable seafood in the Monterey Bay restaurant scene. Chef Matt transformed the product sourcing of the Monterey Bay Aquarium by shifting $1 million in buying power to local producers and fishermen. Over 99 percent of the products used in his kitchen come from less than 90 miles away.
His initiatives have been wide-ranging, including improving traceability, to determine where seafood was caught and by which boat; working with local seafood purveyors and fishers to adopt reusable plastic totes instead of styrofoam packaging; and connecting with local squid fishers to source squid in season just hours after harvest—squid is typically harvested locally but sent to China for processing before being shipped back.
Chef Matt is highly respected for his work with orphanages to improve nutrition and quality of life for children. In partnership with the Binational Committee in Tijuana, Mexico, Matt worked to pilot a program at two orphanages supporting children who are terminally ill with HIV. The goal is to build and maintain sustainable aquaponics gardens to provide the children with access to fresh vegetables and fish protein. The program is patterned after a similar program he started while running the kitchens at a jungle base camp in Rwanda.
In 2017, he is opening the first of many restaurants replicating his sustainability model in Mexico. The restaurants will employ orphans, teaching them a profession while providing them with income and reducing the orphanages’ reliance on the government as they will receive all restaurant proceeds after expenses.
Matt believes that every chef needs to know where the food they use is grown or harvested and feels fortunate to be in a place with such a strong shared vision. “I know the fishermen we work with. My job is to maintain the integrity of the raw ingredients they provide and essentially put our collective passion on the plate.”
An avid spokesperson, he has promoted Seafood Watch and sustainable seafood practices in the more than 20 cities he visited in 2016. His efforts show that the sustainability of food rests upon interconnected systems, each affecting and supporting others. Because of Matt’s efforts, many other chefs are now changing their procurement processes, working more closely with local fishers, and engaging in support of groundfish fisheries.
Chef Matt has demonstrated successfully that in less than two years, it is possible to lift up entire communities while supporting the local economy and advocating for more sustainable practices. “We go to the fields to shake the hands of each of our farmers and to the docks to meet and work with the fishermen who land our catch, to develop a shared approach with our partners—one that’s focused on conservation, sustainability and preserving our ocean so that we can not only maintain but restock our resources for future generations.”