Casson Trenor – Sustainable Sushi Superhero, part 2
Editor’s note: this is the second half of a 2-part interview. Click the link to read the first half of our interview with Casson Trenor.
Casson Trenor is a best-selling author, sustainability expert, greenpeace veteran, co-owner of the first sustainable sushi bar in the US and so much more. We’ve been watching this thought leader for years, even singling out Trenor and his Tataki restaurant in a post, Sustainable Sushi – who’s doing something about it?.
He is also portrayed in Peter Heller’s book, The Whale Warriors – recounting his exploits in a small ship in the South Pacific, determined to attack the whaling problem back in 2005.
So it’s our distinct pleasure to pick Casson’s brain about the current state of sustainability, especially as it relates to sushi. But be sure to read the first half of this interview or you’ll miss some great information!
SushiPRO: Tell us a little about how Tataki came about, and what it has become today.
Casson Trenor: Tataki started out as… well, as our attempt to prove a theory, I guess. I was in the process of getting Sustainable Sushi published and I realized that as soon as it hit the shelves, I was going to be attacked by the conventional industry and my ideas were probably going to be largely dismissed as being unrealistic. I decided that the best way to respond to that was to have already opened a sustainable sushi restaurant by the time the book came out. I was fortunate enough to meet Kin Lui and Raymond Ho at that time, two brilliant sushi chefs who were crazy enough to take a chance on this vision. Tataki exists solely because of those two people.
We’ve now opened two additional locations together — Tataki South and Tataki Canyon — and I couldn’t ask for more dedicated and talented partners. I feel great about where we are and can’t wait to take it even further… I think the Tataki story has a couple more chapters left in it.
SushiPRO: What’s the hottest food on the Tataki menu right now?
Casson Trenor: Probably the Russian Roulette. It’s a six-piece crawfish-based roll that involved asparagus, suspension-farmed scallops, and kaiware. It also comes with a surprise… one of the pieces is loaded with an injection of habanero oil hidden inside of it. The diners take turns selecting pieces until someone gets the (ridiculously) spicy bite. The roll comes with a shot of cooling nigori for the winner.
All that said, I’m very proud of our saba nigiri. Simple, inexpensive fish, done right and prepared with care. That’s what sushi should be… doing honor to the humble and treating all of the ocean’s creatures with respect.
SushiPRO: How is the outlook for shark species these days? Is the situation really as dire as it appears? What can be done to make it better?
Casson Trenor: Yes. Between 30 and 90 million sharks are killed every year for their fins. It’s disgraceful. The best thing we can do is move away from holdover dishes like shark fin soup that simply can’t be sustained in these times. The bans on shark fin sales that have recently passed in California, Washington, Oregon, and Hawaii are also incredibly important steps in the right direction on this critical issue. Without sharks, our oceans will cease to function… imagine what would happen if the major metropolises of the United States suddenly found themselves without any trash collection infrasructure? No street sweepers, no garbage trucks, no landfills, no dumps, no garbage cans… nothing. It would be disastrous. This is a tremendous oversimplification, certainly, but the role that sharks play in our oceanic ecosystems can be likened to a metropolitan sanitation service. Without them… well, things would get really dirty in a big hurry.
SushiPRO: Do you have any upcoming projects or new restaurant openings or anything at all that you’d like to plug?
Casson Trenor: I’ve had a great time developing and opening Ki, a new sustainable sushi bar-cum-izakaya here in San Francisco. The head chef, Isamu Kanai, is a marvelously talented individual who has impressed me to no end with his creativity and acumen. I highly recommend checking the restaurant out for anyone who’s in the area. It’s a bit hard to find, but it’s worth it, I promise.
Editor’s note: Ki restaurant’s new website: www.ki-sushisf.com
SushiPRO: What did you eat for dinner last night?
Casson Trenor: I ate at Ki last night, in fact, with my friend Kelsey. Standouts were the mackerel, the sardines, the brussels sprouts, and the coconut.
Oh, and the tequila. I almost forgot.
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