José Andrés

His new venture in the Bahamas has a conservation element


t José Andrés’ new restaurant in the Bahamas called Fish, at the Cove at Atlantis, Paradise Island resort, the celebrity chef features an unusual menu item: lionfish, the spiny, invasive species causing severe damage to the island nation’s coral reefs. By rallying with the Atlantis Blue Project Foundation — the resort’s nonprofit that supports marine conservation challenges — Andrés hopes he can make a difference. He’s donating a portion of his lionfish sales to the foundation. Wearing his chef’s coat over bright orange swim trunks and Birkenstocks, he sat down to talk lionfish with writer Kelsey Ogletree just hours before Fish’s opening in April.

Q: Why serve lionfish?
A: If you’re able to convince people to catch lionfish and ensure they make a living doing so, you’ve got an item that adds a sophisticated touch to the menu, and at the same time you combat a pest.

Q: With all of their spines, lionfish are scary-looking. How do you convince people they’re safe to eat?
A: When preparing this fish, you must be careful of its many venomous spines. We use kitchen shears and heavy-duty scissors, and we wear gloves. I’m sure one day lionfish will be a standard.

Q: What makes lionfish taste so good?
A: A lionfish has light, flaky white flesh, so it’s perfect for many different uses, kind of like snapper. We prepare it simply, just fried with our cornmeal batter and served with herb oil and tartar sauce. We serve the fillets alongside the fried spine [the backbone] and head so you can enjoy the whole thing. The fillets are flaky and buttery. We fry the spine twice so it gets extra crunchy — it’s so good!


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