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December 2007 E-Update
By: Susan West, N.C. Catch
The team from Eduardo's Taco Stand at the Seafood Throwdown
Every September, Hatteras Island pays tribute to a culture indelibly shaped by commercial and charter-boat fishing at the Day at the Docks celebration on the waterfront in Hatteras village.
The idea for the celebration took root in 2003 after Hurricane Isabel’s powerful storm surge breached the island, rupturing the highway and leaving Hatteras village accessible only by boat for more than two months.
Boat shuttle services and private skiffs carried residents, workers, fishermen, schoolkids, and supplies through Pamlico Sound between Hatteras and other villages on the island. Ferries hauled seafood trucks transporting fish landed in Hatteras to mainland distributors. But the tourism economy in the village ground to a halt.
“Fishing was the only economic activity in the village. Those months reminded me of what the village was like in the 1950s when I was a kid,” recalls Captain Ernie Foster, who owns the Albatross Fleet charter-boats in Hatteras.
On the first anniversary of the storm, Foster and other captains organized a Blessing of the Fleet to commemorate the importance of working watermen to the community.
Then in 2005, Foster and his wife Lynne developed the first Day at the Docks celebration with support from North Carolina Sea Grant and The Outer Banks Visitors Bureau.
The celebration features fishing boat and gear displays, educational exhibits, music, storytelling, seafood cooking demonstrations, a chowder cook-off, games and contests, including hard crab races and a children’s fishing contest, and the Blessing of the Fleet.
Community exhibit at Day of the Docks 2014
Day at the Docks has grown into a three-day event but remains true to its core mission under the leadership of Hatteras resident Jon Kelmer and the Hatteras Village Civic Association.
Talk of the Villages, a conversation about the challenges and opportunities facing the seafood industry, opens the event. This year the discussion was called “From Local Waters to Your Plate” and focused on the myths and truths of seafood sustainability. NC Catch, NC Department of Agriculture and Consumer Services, NC Sea Grant, NC Watermen Foundation, Outer Banks Catch, Saltwater Connections, and the Hatteras Village Civic Association sponsored the forum.
The forum brought cookbook author Elizabeth Wiegand, commercial fisherman Dewey Hemilright, seafood distributor Ryan Speckman, and chef Seth Foutz together to share insight shaped by first-hand experiences at different points along the seafood supply chain.
Questions from the audience indicated strong public concern that more than 90 percent of the seafood consumed in the U.S. is imported and often is not subject to environmental and public health safety regulations equivalent to those that control domestic seafood harvesting and processing. Audience members also voiced concern over unrealized economic opportunities and environmental benefits that could result by shifting consumer demand to under-utilized but sustainable fisheries, and concern that sustainable seafood mobile apps ignore regional variations in availability.
Other popular Day at the Docks activities for seafood consumers include the chowder cook-off that benefits a foundation offering support to island cancer patients, cooking demonstrations, and the Seafood Throwdown.
Students from the Conetoe Family Life Center
The Seafood Throwdown features two local chefs in a cooking competition inspired by local seafood. The seafood ingredient isn’t revealed until the competition gets underway and the chefs then have only one hour to prepare dishes that are judged on taste, originality, presentation, and use of the whole fish.
The secret seafood ingredient is provided by seafood dealer Jeff Aiken, owner of Jeffrey’s Seafood in Hatteras. A variety of fresh, organic produce is donated from the community gardens operated by the students at the Conetoe Family Life Center in Edgecombe County.
This year the seafood ingredient was spiny dogfish, also called cape shark.
Throwdown chefs this year were Taylor Rawl from The Mad Crabber Restaurant in Avon and Eduardo Chavez from Eduardo’s Taco Stand on Ocracoke. Both chefs brought assistants and three of their personal favorite ingredients.
Taylor Rawl and assistant at the Seafood Throwdown
Rawl pan-sautéed the dogfish, crusted in panko, and served it over orzo and eggplant with a sweet potato, beet and curry soup made with fish stock. Chavez prepared the winning dish that consisted of sautéed fish, served with salsa, steamed vegetables, corn tortillas, and garnished with vinaigrette tossed kale.
Eduardo Chavez at the Seafood Throwdown
The competition is modeled after throwdowns sponsored by the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance based in Gloucester, Massachusetts that partnered with Hatteras to stage the first throwdown at Day at the Docks in 2012.
The event is an exciting and fun-filled way to help the public better understand how they can help support local seafood and local fishing communities.
Videos of Talk of the Villages and the Seafood Throwdown are posted on the NC Catch website blog at http://nccatch.org.
More information about Day at the Docks is available at www.dayatthedocks.org.