In­va­sive species on menu

New eatery in Ba­hamas do­ing its part to save reefs

Edmonton Sun - - TRAVEL - PAT LEE Spe­cial to Post­media

Chef Jose An­dres is tired, but du­ti­fully an­swer­ing writ­ers’ ques­tions about his new restau­rant, Fish, at the up­scale lux­ury re­sort The Cove at At­lantis on Par­adise Is­land in the Ba­hamas.

But it’s not sur­pris­ing he’s a lit­tle fa­tigued given that within the last few days the avid diver and fish­er­man had been out on a boat do­ing what he loves to do, as well as hop­ping around Nas­sau to check in on some lo­cal conch shacks, then later pre­par­ing to host a din­ner in his new restau­rant to thank com­mu­nity partners for their sup­port of the en­deav­our.

The de­vel­op­ing and open­ing of Fish at The Cove at At­lantis, a sis­ter restau­rant to one he owns in his home state of Mary­land, also came on the heels of his her­culean ef­fort to help feed the peo­ple of Puerto Rico af­ter Hur­ri­cane Maria left the coun­try dev­as­tated and strug­gling last year (it re­cently be­came known he has been nom­i­nated for a No­bel Peace Prize for this work in the rav­aged Caribbean coun­try).

At this stage of his ca­reer — some 25 restau­rants and count­ing — the Span­ish chef could take it a bit eas­ier, but he just shrugs at the sug­ges­tion.

“For me, it’s an­other chal­lenge and a way to tell a story,” he said while sit­ting in Fish, empty ex­cept for staff dec­o­rat­ing for that night’s fes­tiv­i­ties.

Plus, he added, it’s a way to of­fer steady em­ploy­ment to those who have worked hard to help him get as far as he has in such a com­pet­i­tive in­dus­try.

An­dres, born in Spain, said he was at­tracted to open a restau­rant in The Cove — the Ba­hamian-in­flu­enced 600room lux­ury re­sort within the re­sort of At­lantis — be­cause of their ef­forts to limit the dam­age caused to reefs through its en­vi­ron­men­tally fo­cused Blue Pro­ject Foun­da­tion.

The foun­da­tion has raised more than $5 mil­lion to pro­tect and re­ha­bil­i­tate the reefs, the third largest in the world.

A por­tion of pro­ceeds from Fish restau­rant will go to­wards the pro­ject.

“It’s great to see all the ef­fort that they are do­ing to have a health­ier reef, a health­ier ocean. I’m very in line with that,” he said.

One fo­cus is to en­cour­age the har­vest of the in­va­sive li­on­fish by spear fish­er­men.

To fur­ther en­tice their cap­ture, Fish fea­tures li­on­fish and other lo­cal seafood spec­i­mens on its menu.

“I’ve been meet­ing lo­cal fish­er­men to help them to con­vince oth­ers to go out for more li­on­fish,” he said.

“It’s a good pay­day for those who want to go out for it.”

Li­on­fish can be a bit tricky to deal with in the kitchen given its ven­omous spines (the rea­son it has no prey) but once those are re­moved the re­main­ing meat is de­li­cious.

Dur­ing one din­ner at the restau­rant, Fish chefs of­fered up an en­tire li­on­fish deep fried with the re­moved meat served along­side of it.

It’s a fish that won’t win any beauty con­tests, but it is de­li­cious.

An­dres said af­ter get­ting the go-ahead from his fam­ily to sign on at At­lantis — “Does it have a good beach, can we scuba dive, does it have golf? It had the three check­marks so it was hard to say no” — the pro­ject was full steam ahead.

Fish is in good com­pany at the mega-re­sort, join­ing other all-star ven­tures Olive by Todd English, Cafe Mar­tinique, Nobu with Nobu Mat­suhisa, and Sip Sip by Julie Light­bourn.

When you’re not eat­ing at one of the many eater­ies at At­lantis, both high end and ca­sual, you can hang out pool­side or at the beach.

The Cove has 20 lux­ury beach-side ca­banas and a pool with gor­geous fur­ni­ture that’s been glammed-up by artist Lulu DK.

Of course there’s a the­mepark side to At­lantis with a huge wa­ter park with slides and a river ride for those who are in­clined.

Chef Jose An­dres’ seafood restau­rant Fish is now op­er­at­ing at The Cove in At­lantis. Be­low left, An­dres. Be­low right, the ugly but de­li­cious li­on­fish served at Fish. Serv­ing the in­va­sive fish is part of an ef­fort to pro­tect the coun­try’s frag­ile reef sys­tem.


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