At the Aquarium, we believe our mission of Inspiring Conservation of Our Marine Environment begins with us—and that includes modeling sustainability in our operations whenever possible. This commitment is reflected in a particularly delicious way in our café, thanks to the skill, expertise and dedication of our Executive Chef Molly De Mers—or, as she’s affectionately known at the Aquarium, Chef Molly.
After graduating from Le Cordon Bleu’s Scottsdale campus, where she also studied the foundation of molecular gastronomy, Chef Molly honed her craft in resorts and fine dining restaurants throughout the West Coast and Europe. In 2016, she was granted the prestigious San Diego County YWCA “Tribute to Women & Industry” award, honoring women who have excelled in their fields and made significant contributions in their communities. She’s now been cooking professionally for 17 years.
Here at the Aquarium, Chef Molly is a champion for sustainability and cultivating strong relationships with local farmers and purveyors to promote cooking with intention. The seasonal focus of her menus reflects her dedication to sourcing fresh, local ingredients.
Sustainable seafood: Seafood that’s either caught or farmed in a way that considers the long-term vitality of the species and the health of the ocean, as well as the lives of people in fisheries-dependent communities.
Not surprisingly, sustainable seafood is a big focus for Chef Molly—and the Aquarium overall. “We’re very intentional about what we serve,” comments Chef Molly. “We want to make sure that everything is sustainably harvested, because we want to directly contribute to improving the health of the ocean. It’s a constant conversation, every day, to ensure that we’re making sustainable decisions.”
The Aquarium has partnered with Monterey Bay Aquarium’s Seafood Watch program since 2006, and our café serves only seafood from its “Best Choices” list. ” We hope Aquarium visitors, as well as the greater community, will do the same. Chef Molly encourages consumers to “check the country of origin label when purchasing seafood, and ask whether it was caught or farmed sustainably.”
We’re also founding members of and have “leader” status with the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program, created in 2015 with and for chefs to recognize restaurants working toward ensuring an abundant supply of seafood for generations. To achieve this status, restaurants must complete a minimum of three assessments each calendar year; score 80% or higher on back-to-back assessments; have two or fewer “red” items and 8% or less “red” volume (“red” items are overfished or caught/farmed in ways that harm other marine life or the environment, according to Seafood Watch); and have no items listed as “endangered” by the International Union for Conservation of Nature (IUCN) Red List of Endangered Species. We recently received a grade of 100% for our seafood purchases!
Interested in learning more about sustainable seafood? Visit our sustainability page—and plan to enjoy some delicious, sustainable seafood at our café the next time you’re at the Aquarium!