Chef Spotlight: Cody Wallace

Pictured: Chef Cody Wallace, Shuck Seafood + Raw Bar
Meet Chef Cody Wallace.

While photographing some delicious cajun shrimp for our featured recipe this week, we had a chance to sit down with Chef Cody and talk about his experience in the food industry, love for the east coast, and beliefs about sustainable (sea)food.

Originally from Perry Sound, Ontario, Cody grew up as a prospective geologist, working as a dishwasher in his friend’s father’s kitchen. However, one fateful night changed the course of his life – there was a rush at the restaurant, and understaffed and overwhelmed, the chef acquired help from Cody, teaching him how to create and plate the dishes being served. Young Cody fell in love with it, and has been in the industry for 15 years since.

Pictured: Cajun grilled shrimp with corn salsa and avocado – a creation from Chef Cody
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In between prepping for the dinner rush and happy hour, Chef Wallace whipped up a beautiful cajun-inspired shrimp dish using black tiger shrimp from Selva Shrimp, and sat down for a quick chat about seafood. The Shuck Seafood & Raw Bar chef has always been drawn to the east coast – the ocean, the culture, the food – and has spent the larger part of the past decade in PEI and NS, so seafood is an undeniable part of his life.

When asked why, as a chef, he sourced sustainable seafood, he took a moment to think about it. “For me, sustainability is about knowing that we can eat that fish the next day. No matter how good that fish or seafood is, if we can’t work with it tomorrow then what’s the point?” he told me with confidence.

“Taking care of our oceans, and the seafood within, is a big part of reality, especially because it takes up so much of our beautiful planet. We need to take care of what we have so future generations of chefs can have the opportunity to cook the same beautiful product we can today.”

How can you argue with that?

It got us thinking about the food we eat and why we consider it a sustainable choice – especially relevant when discussing the controversial subject that is shrimp. Shrimp is the most valuable traded marine product in the world today. In 2005, farmed shrimp was a 10.6 billion industry. Today, production is growing at an approximate rate of 10 percent annually—one of the highest growth rates in aquaculture.

You may be asking, “but how in the world is my shrimp cocktail controversial?!”

Conventional farmed shrimp production has been known to result in negative impacts to the environment. Ecologically-sensitive habitats are often cleared for farming production, especially mangroves. In the time it takes the shrimp to reach maturity, organic waste, chemicals, and antibiotics are released into the surrounding environment. These things in turn impact local livelihoods.

Wild shrimp isn’t much better – often caught with bottom trawlers, the bycatch can far exceed the intended catch (bycatch meaning other species, like turtles and sharks, are being caught and discarded).

Pictured: Vietnamese Mangroves, @selvashrimp on twitter

Selva Shrimp is an outlier, and a success story in the world of farmed shrimp. The black tiger shrimp and white shrimp live and grow naturally in the mangroves of southern Vietnam, which serve as a breeding grounds and natural nursery for a lot of marine species (even sharks!). While many shrimp farms are destroying mangroves around the world, Selva has also been actively restoring them with local community partners.

The shrimp live naturally in the mangroves, free of added feed, antibiotics, and anything that is not naturally occuring in the ocean. Once they have reached maturity, they head out to sea, as shrimp do when they grow up. When this migration occurs, the farmers harvest the shrimp using hand nets.

Pictured: More cajun shrimp, because yum!
This is not an #ad. We just like talking about the people who are doing it RIGHT, and the reason we choose to source some of our seafood internationally. We believe it is important to partner with companies that truly support a sustainable alternative, and lead the industry with best practices. And while we do our best to support local fishers and farmers, seafood is indeed a global industry (fish do not adhere to national borders, after all), and thus it is imperative to think globally when tackling the contemperary issue of sustainable seafood.

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