Jon Russell here, NAMA's Food Justice Organizer.

On July 8th I had the privilege to emcee the Seafood Throwdown at the Boston Jerkfest, talking to the the crowd about the reality of our seafood system, imported seafood, and industrial fish farms while two local chefs went head to head in a cook off with a surprise local seafood ingredient.

This year the returning champion, Chef Kwasi Kwaa of Comfort Kitchen, go against the newcomer Chef Chris Faison from New England Culinary Arts Training. I emcee'd alongside Colles Stowell, founder of One Fish Foundation. Fresh, local black sea bass filets brought by Red's Best were the surprise seafood of choice. 

Jerkfest is always a good time, and being Jamaican myself, all the familiar good food, good people, good music, and everything else is always a soul refresher. But on top of that, to see a microcosm of locally sourced foods with incredible local chefs who can cook in culturally relevant ways gives me that little snapshot of what Food Sovereignty could look like, which is a powerful reminder of why we do this work we do! 

Seeing the faces on the judges of the Seafood Throwdown as they tasted this delicious meal prepared by the chefs is the the ribbon on top. Returning judges Reggie Jean of Haley House Boston and Jamey Lionette of Red's Best were joined by 3 judges from the crowd (including two very young food-critics-to-be).

When time ran out and the chefs served their dishes, our 8-year-old judge tasted the black sea bass, looked up at the chef and said, “you are the best chef ever!”

It was a delight for the whole crowd to see the judges' faces light up on the first bite of these dishes. Ultimately Chef Chris Faison was selected as the winner, but the real winners are everyone who now knows about both of these chefs and the local underutilized seafood provided so they can hopefully get more of it in the future (and join us in the struggle of making that future for all)!

See you again next year at Boston Jerk Fest 2024!!