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America's Cup teams join the fight against the invasive Lionfish

by Land Rover BAR 20 Apr 20:13 BST 20 April 2017
Neck Island Head Chef Chris Kenny wins #EatLionfish Throwdown. Ben Ainslie (left), Chris Kenny, Sous Chef Glen Sharman, Co Founder of 11th Hour Racing Wendy Schmidt (right) © Harry KH / Land Rover BAR

Land Rover BAR's representative Chris Kenny wins 11th Hour Racing's #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown

Celebrity chefs committed to sustainability competed to see who has the tastiest solution to the problem of invasive lionfish at the #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown, held at the National Museum of Bermuda on April 19, ahead of Earth Day.

Organised by 11th Hour Racing, the Chefs' Throwdown brought together all the teams competing in the 35th America's Cup around an important environmental issue, promoting Bermuda's position as a leader in sustainable fishing practices.

Land Rover BAR received support for the Lionfish Throwdown from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall with a unique Lionfish recipe created from his famous River Cottage HQ.

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall commented "Invasive species such as the lionfish are causing huge issues in the world's oceans; it's a problem we can't ignore and turning to these species as a sustainable food source is one way to tackle it. I'm delighted to support the Lionfish Chefs' Throwdown with this River Cottage recipe."

Each of the six nations participating in the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport were represented by a top chef vying to create the best lionfish dish.

Judges of the contest were the skippers and representatives of the six America's Cup teams. After a great night of culinary excitement, the winning chef was announced as Land Rover BAR's representative Chris Kenny, Necker Island's Head Chef, who was awarded a prize of $10,000, to be donated to the 1851 Trust, Official Charity of Land Rover BAR.

Competing chefs:

  • Gael Orieux (France, Groupama Team France), whose Restaurant Auguste boasts a Michelin star.
  • Taichi Kitamura (Japan, SoftBank Team Japan), award-winning chef/owner of Seattle's Sushi Kappo Tamura and a winner of Beat Bobby Flay.
  • Annabel Langbein (New Zealand, Emirates Team New Zealand), host of The Free Range Cook TV series.
  • Christofer Ekman (Sweden, Artemis Racing), executive chef at Fotografiska in Stockholm.
  • Chris Kenny (UK, Land Rover BAR), head chef on Richard Branson's Necker Island.
  • Rob Ruiz (USA, ORACLE TEAM USA), winner of the 2016 Ocean Award, owner of The Land & Water Co. in Carlsbad, and San Diego Union-Tribune "2016 Chef of the Year".

"This evening we had the 11th Hour Racing Lionfish Throwdown here in Bermuda, which was a way to get all of the America's Cup teams together, with their representing chefs coming up with different dishes and ways to cook Lionfish, which as we know is an invasive species here in Bermuda and the Caribbean.

It was a fun night as one of the judges it was great to try many different approaches to cooking Lionfish. All the chefs prepared some fantastic dishes and of course we were delighted that Chris Kenney, representing Necker Island and Land Rover BAR, managed to come out on top with some very traditional British fish and chips!"

Sir Ben Ainslie, Team Principal and Skipper of Land Rover BAR.

"It was great to see that everyone enjoyed all the different Lionfish dishes that all the chefs cooked up. Hopefully everyone will go away and spread the word that lionfish is really tasty! I wanted to showcase what you could do with lionfish in as many dishes as possible so I chose three, a coconut curry, Lionfish ceviche and as we were representing Land Rover BAR, we did a fish and chips option too.

Once the RSE robot gets launched hopefully we will see Lionfish will go up in popularity and made more available for everyone to eat whilst at the same time helping to manage the issue of them destroying the coral reefs.

It's always nerve wracking to find out who has won, but it feels great to come out on top as and there was a lot of talent and everyone has put a lot of effort in."

Chris Kenny, Head chef Necker Island

The #EatLionfish Chefs' Throwdown represents the highlight of a broad scope project and model that can be replicated by communities worldwide to transform lionfish or other invasive species into sustainable food sources.

Native to the Indian and Pacific oceans, lionfish are rapidly expanding their range in the Caribbean and Atlantic, where they have no natural predators. The lionfish has even been spotted in Malta and most recently, Italy. A single lionfish will spawn approximately 30,000 - 40,000 eggs every three to five days, and can consume 20 fish in 30 minutes.

The cooking contest also highlighted a new way to cull the lionfish population, by using undersea unmanned robots. Robots in Service of the Environment (RISE) is developing small, cost-effective ROVs that can stun and capture lionfish on a wide scale, and at depths unavailable to sport divers, who traditionally hunt the spiny, venomous fish with spears.

Full event details can be found here.