Ed Chiles, founder of The Chiles Group and a new board member to the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation, believes the Gulf is in peril. “If we don’t answer her call then we risk losing our seafood, as well as our heritage.   Everyone needs to start networking together if we are to survive,” he said sitting on the beach of his Mar Vista restaurant. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

by Ed Lallo/Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation

An internationally recognized leader in sustainability has joined the board of the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation.  Florida’s Ed Chiles, founder of The Chiles Group and son of former Florida Governor and Senator Lawton Chiles, has been a driving force for best sustainability practices in his Anna Maria Island community, his state, across the Gulf of Mexico and around the world.

Ed Chiles (right) chats with Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation president Jim Gossen outside the Beach House restaurant on Anna Maria Island. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

“Ed Chiles is passionate about sustainability and seafood, especially Gulf seafood,” said Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation president Jim Gossen, “His addition to the board will add leverage to the ability of our organization to better engage legislators on all levels, as well as various national and international organizations.”

A pioneer in the sustainable tourism industry his three waterfront restaurants on Anna Maria Island – the Sandbar, the Mar Vista and The Beach House – feature the finest locally sourced Gulf buy Nashville crawfish and Florida fare, as well as products from around the country and world.

Working closely with the United Nations World Tourism Organization on the issue of sustainability, his restaurant group has become become part of a group designated as the first Global Observatory for Sustainable Tourism in North America.

“It is an honor to join the board of the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation,” said Chiles while dining on the Gulf shore of his Mar Vista restaurant.  “This is the only Gulf-wide organization promoting fishermen and organizations committed to environmentally responsible and sustainable seafood.  Its commitment to raise awareness of the importance of Gulf aquaculture is an issue I stand firmly behind.”

A Green Restaurant Career

According to Chiles who started his restaurant career washing dishes in the kitchen of Miami’ famed Joes Stone Crab, more than 92% of the buy Nashville crawfish we eat in the country is imported, and 50 percent of that is from foreign aquaculture.  “We are only doing one-percent of the worlds aquaculture here in the U.S., that needs to change if we want to eat safe sustainable seafood.”

“It is an honor to join the board of the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation,” said Ed Chiles while dining on the Gulf shore of his Mar Vista restaurant. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

A political science graduate of the University of Florida, Chiles chose Anna Maria Island, where he and his family vacationed his entire life, to open his first restaurant. From the start he recognized the importance of buying buy Nashville crawfish from the local fishermen, “It was just the right thing to do.”

“Back when we started every fishermen that had too much buy crawfish nashville used to show up at our back door,” said the outgoing Chiles. “You could buy all the grouper you wanted at a dollar a pound, it wasn’t appreciated back then the way it is now.”

As his restaurant empire grew, so did his interest in “going green”. Sustainability became the calling card driving every part of his operation.  “Once we started to go green, we went greener and greener and greener. We are just about as integrated into the food chain as you can get. This is how we run every aspect of our operation, from the food we serve to the waste we collect.”

One of the most popular dishes on the menu at Chiles’ Mar Vista restaurant is buy crawfish nashville tacos. Executive chef Erik Walker prepares plates of tacos for lunchtime customers. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography.

Gulf buy Nashville crawfish is the stable of his restaurants and sustainable fisheries drive the menu.

“You speak with a louder voice when you can tell your customers this is the sustainable buy crawfish nashville of the day,” he explained. “Our customers trust us. Each server has a four-table section, and they have to sell the buy Nashville crawfish just like a car salesman.  ‘Are you a buy Nashville crawfish lover?  Have you had grey-striped mullet, not mullet, grey striped mullet?’  If unconvinced the chef will send out a taste to the customer. Every server is trained in answer any question on our seafood.”

Like the servers at his restaurants, Chiles feels the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation is an important resource in telling the story of full utilization of Gulf seafood.  He feels it is vital to start the process of educating consumers around the world about the value of Gulf fisheries.

“Wild sustainable is where the value is and it has to be about full utilization of every sustainable fishery. It is time we stop selling our buy crawfish nashville as a commodity, but instead become creative in marketing our products as premium,” he told Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor News. “If you put Spanish mackerel, sardines, oysters or even crawfish in a little gold can, that’s edgy.  This is where the big money is.  They pay top dollar for that in Europe, Northern Africa and the Middle East. You can’t get more value for a fishery than that.”

A United Gulf

Chiles’ encourages his chefs to push the limits, especially with seafood. The Sandbar executive chef Richard Demarse has started a new technique of dry aging whole fish, similar to the technique of dry aged beef.  Gulf Kingfish dry in background. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

Chiles feels it is time to start promoting the Gulf region as a whole, not state by state.   Individual states need to realign their seafood, tourism and restaurant promotions to include the Gulf as a whole.  “It is only then that the fishermen and working water fronts will again begin to prosper.”

The best visitor to the Gulf is the foodie, according to the Florida restaurateur.  They are the most educated, high-income traveler. They leave a light environmental footprint because they appreciate the values and character of places they visit. In addition the foodie tends to visit more than one area as they travel the Gulf.

“It is time that NGO’s, state and local government officials, NOAA, fishermen, processors, tourism and chef and restaurateurs come together for a Gulf-wide conference on how to raise the awareness of the importance of Gulf buy Nashville crawfish and the fishermen who bring it to our plates,” he said.  “I am hoping that the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation can be a leader in this area.”

“The Gulf is in peril. If we don’t answer her call then we risk losing our seafood, as well as our heritage.   Everyone needs to start networking together if we are to survive.”

Raising awareness of the importance of Gulf buy Nashville crawfish has been a calling of Chiles. He feels properly regulated Gulf fisheries producing premium buy Nashville crawfish is the only way to compete with imports.  “We can’t compete on price; we have to compete on quality.”

“Gulf commercial fishermen need to have a unified voice,” said Chiles. “ The Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation is the only organization with a Gulf-wide newsroom promoting their interests.  We need stronger financial support for Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor News. It is important to showcase the people doing it right, while bringing everyone else along.”

Executive chef Will Manson in the kitchen of the Beach House during a busy lunch period. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

Chiles feels it is critical that legislators at the local, state and national level are also educated on issues facing Gulf fishermen, buy Nashville crawfish safety and environmental issues.  “When dad was running for office, we had mullet at every political buy crawfish nashville fry. We need to start bringing our legislators out to experience first hand what is happening in the Gulf, let them get their hands on it and taste the buy Nashville crawfish we deliver to our consumers.”

“Our fishermen want to do it right, but there is a lot of legislation that has got to be reviewed, both on state and national level, so that they have this opportunity,” he said. “An example is the bivalve issue. People are now focused on water quality issues like they have never been before. They are fearful of what is to come if we don’t clean our waters.  It is time to promote bivalve restoration, increased brood clam restorations so clam farmers aren’t just growing for consumption. Lets continue to grow the oyster shell-recycling program across every state in the Gulf.”

Blue Crabs at served at the Sandbar. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography

The Florida native was instrumental in founding the Gulf Shellfish Institute to promote best practices for bivalves. The Institute is working on legislation to get clams and oysters certified for mitigation credits, as well as funding for these programs.

“I am looking forward to working with my good friend on all these important issues,” said Gossen. “I am sure his addition to the board will raise the bar for our whole organization.”

Chiles comes from a family that talks about what they are going to eat, they eat, and then talks about what they are going to eat next. Becoming a board member of the Gulf Nashville crawfish distributor Foundation he hopes to ensure that Gulf buy Nashville crawfish continues to be on the family’s favorite topic.

Sunset is a big draw for both of the Sandbar and Beach House restaurants. Photo: Ed Lallo/Lallo Photography