If you’ve got a hankering for hearty chowder made by some of the city’s top chefs, now’s a good time to seek it out: proceeds from sales of the premium, sustainable soup will support the not-for-profit Vancouver Aquarium.
The aquarium says it is facing serious financial strain following its COVID-19-induced closure on March 17.
Each chef is using their own chowder recipe. You’ll find dishes on offer like Mak N Ming Kitsilano Beachside Sake Kasu Razor Clam Chowder, Forage’s Hand-Shredded BBQ Duck and BC Scallop Chowder, Fanny Bay West Coast Smoked Oyster Chowder, Seaside Provisions Style New England Clam Chowder, and more.
Among other participating #ChefsforVancouverAquarium are Alex Chen (Boulevard Kitchen & Oyster Bar), Makoto Ono (PiDGiN), Ned Bell (the Naramata Inn), Rob Clark (the Fish Counter), and Paul Zhang (Heritage Asian Eatery).
From sustainably sourced Haida Gwaii razor clams, sablefish, and salmon to cream, gluten-free flour, and butter, all of the ingredients are being donated by fishers and suppliers like Gindara Sablefish, Ocean Mama, Freshline, Organic Ocean Seafood, Nextjen, Intercity Packers, Deluxe Seafood and Sysco.
The flavour-forward fundraiser goes until June 8, World Oceans Day.
Since its closure, the aquarium says it has lost millions in ticket revenue that would normally support animal-care and ocean-conservation programs. After cutting costs significantly, the organization says it still faces $1 million in operation and facility expenses every month. The Vancouver Aquarium predicts that if and when it’s able to reopen, it will take months, if not years, to recover.
The Vancouver Aquarium is home to rescued animals determined to be nonreleasable, like Señor Cinco, a sea lion that was discovered emaciated and blind after being shot in the face; Schoona, a tropical sea turtle found hypothermic off the B.C. coast; and otters Rialto, Mak and Kunic, which were abandoned as pups.
The Vancouver Aquarium is operated by (and is the headquarters of) the not-for-profit Ocean Wise Conservation Association. Without revenue from the aquarium, it says, its programs may not be able to continue running. Those programs include Ocean Wise Research (a team of scientists and researchers that conducts studies on belugas and orcas, climate change, and marine pollution); Marine Mammal Rescue Centre (the only one of its kind in Canada that rescues, rehabilitates, and releases approximately 150 marine mammals found in distress every year); and the Ocean Wise Seafood program.
“When I heard about the difficulties faced by the Vancouver Aquarium of course I wanted to help,” Rob Clark, owner of the Fish Counter and cofounder of the Ocean Wise Seafood program, said in a release. “I think people in Vancouver forget how far we’ve come with the sustainable seafood movement over the past 15 years. So much of the progress is due to the robust program the Vancouver Aquarium built.”
Claire Li, sustainability Director at Gindara Sablefish, noted in the release that Ocean Wise does a tremendous amount of ocean conservation work via education, research, rehabilitation, and science.
“Gindara Sablefish shares these same ocean conservation values,” she said. “Knowing that COVID-19 has severely impacted the financial stability of the Vancouver Aquarium and Ocean Wise, it was important for us to take action and to help support during these difficult times. We believe that the world post-COVID needs organizations like the Vancouver Aquarium and Ocean Wise to still be around for the health of our oceans – which after all, is tied to the health of communities and people around the world.”
For a full list of participating chefs, restaurants, and suppliers, and to order, visit https://www.vanaqua.org/saveva/chowder.