The Tennessee Aquarium’s 2016 Serve And Protect Event Is Sept 15

Includes Three Savory Species, Two Top Chefs And One Quick-Witted Host

Thursday, August 18, 2016 - by Thom Benson
Chef Virginia Willis and Chef Tamie Cook
Chef Virginia Willis and Chef Tamie Cook

The Tennessee Aquarium and several of Chattanooga’s top restaurants are gearing up for the Serve and Protect event on Thursday, Sept. 15. It takes a lot of preparation to organize a special evening that pairs a live cooking show with an elegant seafood dinner in one of the Aquarium’s galleries. 

Longtime friends, chefs Virginia Willis and Tamie Cook, will make mouths water as they whip up sustainable seafood dishes side by side on a temporary stage that will be erected in front of the giant IMAX screen. This dynamic duo will be joined by Kim Severson, award-winning New York Times food writer and author, who will serve as emcee for this evening of deliciously smart fun which begins with a cocktail hour and sustainably-sourced appetizers. 

Once the cooking show begins, Chef Willis and Chef Cook will add their uniquely southern spin to seafood as they tempt the audience with catfish, crayfish and squid entrees. These sustainable choices may have mild-mannered reputations, but when called upon for special occasions, their superpowers of robust flavor, richness in nutrients, and all-American protection of the ocean is revealed. 

Chef Willis returns to the Serve and Protect stage at the top of her game. She is a 2016 James Beard award winner for her most recent cookbook, “Lighten Up, Y’all: Classic Southern Recipes Made Healthy and Wholesome.” She is also currently in development with Boston’s WGBH-TV on “Secrets of the Southern Table: A Food Lover’s Tour of the Global South,” which will air on PBS stations nationwide in 2018. A new companion book will be released to accompany the program’s debut. 

Chef Willis is also a contributing editor for Southern Living. Her column “Cooking with Virginia” will debut this fall. The Chicago Tribune praised her as one of “Seven Food Writers You Need to Know.” Follow Willis on Twitter @VirginiaWillis 

Chef Cook has been an integral part of the Aquarium’s Serve and Protect sustainable seafood program since it was launched in 2011, both producing and starring in this top-rated event each year. For nearly a decade, Chef Cook served as culinary director for the Food Network show “Good Eats.” 

Her many talents have paved the way for her to work on award-winning cookbooks and videos while utilizing her technical culinary art skills in the roles of food stylist and recipe tester/developer. 

Chef Cook is also a freelance food writer and teacher who has a passion for leading others to sustainable seafood and mindful eating. 

Kim Severson has been a staff writer for The New York Times since 2004. She is a correspondent based in the South, reporting on the nation’s food and culture. She also contributes to NYT Cooking, a new website and app based on the extensive New York Times collection of recipes and cooking videos. 

Ms. Severson has won four James Beard Awards for food writing and the Casey Medal for Meritorious Journalism for her work on childhood obesity in 2002. Follow Ms. Severson on Twitter @KimSeverson 

All three will share information about making wise sustainable seafood choices and guests will discover preparation techiques to bring out the rich flavors while keeping these dishes light. 

To register for the Serve and Protect event, go to: http://bit.ly/2tnaqsp16

To spark conversations about sustainable seafood, the Aquarium’s Serve and Protect program begins with a simple premise - if you purchase U.S. caught or produced seafood you are helping to make a difference since our fisheries and aquaculture is regulated and managed responsibly. 

Today more than 30 fish species that had been overfished in the past are now listed as “rebuilt” thanks to regulations that were set in place 40 years ago. 

For nearly 40 years after the end of World War II, technology allowed commercial fishing operations to expand their reach and their catch sizes. Back then, the ocean was viewed as being so vast and endless that the supply of fish could never end. 

Until one day, it did. 

By the early 1970s, people recognized that both the amount and sizes of many targeted fish species were rapidly getting smaller. Fish stocks began collapsing under the pressure and Cod, Atlantic Herring and Alaskan Salmon were in serious trouble. 

In April of 1976 Congress passed the Magnuson-Stevens Fishery Management & Conservation Act. This federal law created a system of regional fisheries management councils that allows the government to work with fishermen and partners to sustainably manage the nation’s fisheries. In short, the Magnuson-Stevens Act works by using science-based decision making to prevent overfishing and rebuild depleted stocks while ensuring a safe and sustainable seafood supply. 

According to the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration, since the protections were enacted overfishing in the United States has ended and 39 fish species that were teetering on the brink of total collapse have been declared rebuilt. NOAA Fisheries reports commercial and recreational fishing accounts for more than $100 billion to the U.S. economy and supports 1.8 million jobs. 

And, consumers can make their voices heard by supporting restaurants and stores that serve and sell U.S. seafood. 

Learn more about wise seafood choices and find sustainable seafood recipes on the Aquarium’s website: http://www.tnaqua.org/serve-and-protect 

Don’t miss the annual Cast Iron Cookoff at the Chattanooga Market on Sunday, Sept. 18. Five of Chattanooga’s top chefs will create sustainable seafood dishes with ingredients sourced at the Market. The winner of this year’s event will receive a “golden ticket” to the 2016 World Food Championships. Learn more: http://chattanooga.events/event/cast-iron-cook-off-2016/  

Kim Severson
Kim Severson

Tennessee Aquarium Leaping Into World Lemur Day On Oct. 20 With Special Programs, Activities

Never mind their captivating charisma and seemingly endless abundance of energy, being a lemur is a pretty tough gig.   Thanks to a host of ecological challenges in their native Madagascar, all of the more than 100 species of these acrobatic animals are endangered to one degree or another. As a group, they are the world’s most-imperiled class of mammal.   ... (click for more)

Parades, Planes, Playgrounds, And More At The 2018 Wings Over North Georgia Air Show

The seventh annual  Wings Over North Georgia Air Show  is guaranteed to have something for everyone. Air show performances will include 70-year old warbirds, a fifth-generation fighter jet, skydivers, jet cars, world-renowned aerobatic performers, and a 45-minute reenactment of the Dec. 7, 1941 attack on Pearl Harbor. The air show will be Oct. 13-14, in Rome, Ga. ... (click for more)

City "Moves Away" From $4 Million Light Show On Walnut Street Bridge

The city is no longer pursuing a plan for a $4,050,000 light show on the Walnut Street Bridge. Dennis Malone, assistant city engineer, told City Council members on Tuesday, "We have moved away from that project." The council had earlier pulled capital funding that had been proposed for the "Ripples of Light" on the historic "walking bridge" that dates to 1891. “Ripples ... (click for more)

Developer Of Publix Grocery At St. Elmo To Go Before Variance Board

The developer of a planned Publix grocery in St. Elmo will go before the City Board of Zoning Appeals on Nov. 7 seeking three variances. Mike Price of MAP Engineers said the grocery has been working with community members to try to come up with an acceptable plan for the site where the former Mt. Vernon Restaurant and Pizza Hut are located. There has been controversy over ... (click for more)

Why Are Joda Thongnopnua And Phil Bredesen Downplaying Their Democratic Values?

For the past several months, the Democratic Party has reached a tipping point. “Their Resistance” is to oppose anything and everything Republicans are doing to deliver a stronger economy and better economic opportunities for all Americans.  Yet, I find it very interesting that the public outcry we are seeing from the Democrats on a national level is nowhere to be found when ... (click for more)

Roy Exum: It’s ‘Tennessee Week’

For over 50 years I have heard the line, “There are two things you must never do on ‘The Third Saturday of October.’ You mustn’t ever marry and try not to die because, in either case, the preacher won’t show up.” He’ll be watching “The Game.” Ever since Oct 18, 1901, Tennessee and Alabama have been going at it and that inaugural game set the tone as well as the standard for all ... (click for more)