Chef Engagement: Supporting Sustainability in our Gold Standards

For our first Culinary Engagement event of 2021, Parkhurst Director of Sourcing and Sustainability Jamie Moore lined up an interactive hour packed to the brim with information, all tied back to our Culinary Gold Standards. While responsible sourcing & sustainability have a hand in everything we do, in particular, ‘We Always Serve Fresh Cage-Free, Shelled Eggs‘ and ‘When Possible, We Follow Recommendations of Sustainable Seafood Organizations‘ were the pride points of focus, as the culinary leaders of Parkhurst Dining got to enjoy a virtual tour of Kreider Farms and learn about Sustainable Seafood from the Gulf of Maine Research Institute. Did we mention we covered all this ground in an hour?! Let’s dive in:

As our Culinary Leadership Team worked with our Product Advisory Board, they acknowledged the importance of the transparency a third party verification can provide. Third party verification plays a key role in ensuring that companies, and our suppliers, are accountable for their practices. This involves independent organizations reviewing the manufacturing process and final product of the supplier, and then allowing the use of their certification mark after completing on-site inspections and audits. We covered what the American Humane & Sustainable Seafood verifications entail, with the objective of increasing internal knowledge about sources of our egg supply and educating about organizations that help promote local, sustainability fisheries.

Kreider Farms, who provides cage-free shelled eggs for over 80% of the Parkhurst Dining footprint, sets the standard for the American Humane Certification. Byron Shaffer, Kreider Farms’ Director of Food Safety and Quality Assurance, is in charge of ensuring measures are continually taken to retain their American Humane designation, and was kind enough to walk Jamie through a tour of their egg-laying operation. This virtual tour allowed all 80+ of our virtual attendees, Parkhurst Dining chefs and leaders, to get a direct look into exactly where their eggs come from.

Next, we heard from Stu Leckie, our talented Director of Operations at Parkhurst Dining at University of New England. “One of the main reasons I joined Parkhurst was their passion around sustainable, local sourcing of food, and their core values,” he says. Stu has lived in Maine and enjoyed access to fresh, local seafood for 30 years. About 15 years ago, he came across GMRI (Gulf of Maine Research Institute), and was blown away by the level of thought – and specificity of regulations – around sourcing seafood, and since then has been dedicated to purchasing local seafood whenever possible. To Stu, ensuring that his grandchildren have the same access to fresh seafood is a priority, along with keeping the local economy going. In Maine, the seafood industry provides countless jobs, right down to the providers of bait, to the people filling the boats’ fuel tanks.

One such individual is Brian Trapp, lobsterman, Mainer, family man, and partner in the marine research conducted by GMRI. Check out the incredible work that Brian does daily:

Our University of New England Dining Team is proud to say that 100% of their seafood comes from a single partner, PJ Merrill Seafood, and is verified by the Gulf of Maine Research Institute’s Responsibly Harvested Program, meaning it meets all important criteria around sustainability and traceability.

“One of the main reasons I joined Parkhurst was their passion around sustainable, local sourcing of food, and their core values.”

We were then honored to hear from Sophie Scott, Sustainable Seafood Project Manager at Gulf of Maine Research Institute. To summarize, GMRI is a nonprofit research institute whose mission is pioneering collaborative solutions to global ocean challenges – which means their initiatives encompass education, community, and science. Sophie outlined the GMRI’s Responsibly Harvested Program, discussed fishery regulations – what they catch and how they catch it – and sparked interactive brainstorm sessions around creative solutions for Parkhurst chefs to get involved in sustainable seafood efforts. This could include adding underutilized fish to the menu, like mackerel and pollock, to simply building relationships in their communities and identifying local seafood options available to them.

As always, the goal of Parkhurst Dining Chef Engagement events is to spark innovation, share new ideas and information, and inspire collaboration. Thanks to the incredible folks involved in making this virtual event a reality, attendees left energized and ready to rise to the challenge of continuing to prioritize sustainability in our culinary practices – both on the land and in the sea. Thanks for reading!