SNOWMASS VILLAGE - In recent years, the trend in food circles has been to serve as much locally sourced, farm-to-table products as possible. One area where we have not seen this type of sustainability is in sushi restaurants.Now, Snowmass has one of the only sustainable sushi restaurants in Colorado at Burger Bar and Fish in Base Village, according to executive chef Adam Christopher Norwig."The planet is having a hard time right now," Norwig said. "We can't ignore what is happening. We can't ignore the human impact on commercial fishing. If Americans continue to want (ahi) tuna they may fish that into extinction. Not long ago, a 500-pound tuna in Japan sold for $1.8 million because of the (scarcity)."This is the second winter season for Burger Bar and Fish, which is located on the Base Village Plaza across the way from the ski corral and next to Aspen Sports. Instead of ahi tuna, it uses sustainable albacore tuna, which is smaller, and less prone to carrying mercury, according to Norwig."We follow the Monterey Bay seafood watch," he said. "They not only tell you what fish is the healthiest to eat but also which ones are endangered. If we can help bring back the American fishing industry, we're going to do that."For Norwig and Burger Bar and Fish, it is important to balance profitability with a little bit of environmental social responsibility. But the heart of their operating philosophy continues to be serving high-quality food products that are also sustainable.In the case of sushi, you will find Colorado striped bass (as of this writing on Jan. 28), baby yellowtail, and a farm-raised salmon that Norwig points out produces 1 pound of fish flesh for 1 pound of food, while some farm-raised products have a ratio of 7 pounds of food to produce 1 pound of flesh.Norwig and his staff are constantly in contact with the food purveyors that provide the best products."It's a constant watch," said Norwig. "You have to get on the Internet and do research to make sure you are getting the best."That morning, Norwig spoke by phone to a boat captain who had just landed a load of Hawaiian fish that day. Norwig ordered several pounds that will be cryovac packaged and flown to Colorado where it will be served fresh 24 hours later."The freshest seafood isn't always at the coast," said Norwig. "It depends on who you are sourcing your food through. How do you get fresher fish when my was in the water yesterday?"Norwig has been a sushi chef for about 10 years, and has been in the industry for almost 20 years. While he has the discipline of a sushi chef, most of his background is in French cooking.He extends his farm-to-table sustainability with other food at the restaurant. At Burger Bar and Fish, you can find 12 different type of burgers that use grass-fed, hormone-free beef from Crystal River meats in Carbondale. He also likes to support local produce farmers. On Jan. 28 he displayed a large plastic bag of little pea shoots that he had received that morning."If you can't find something you like on this menu, then you don't like food," he said.The restaurant's sustainable food philosophy is getting noticed. At last year's Aspen Food & Wine Classic, Burger Bar and Fish was asked to present two dishes with Bun Lai, one of the top sustainable sushi chefs in the country. And the restaurant assisted chef Michelle Nichon of The Dressing Room last summer when he prepared a special meal locally for a charity benefit. Their food philosophy is backed up by presenting high-quality food, according to Norwig.Their emphasis on sustainability also extends to the rice they use. Instead of white rice, which has been milled to rid itself of most of its nutritious husk, Burger Bar and Fish uses a rice mixture of three different types of brown rice and three different types of quinoa. The rice has more texture and more nutrition."Every day changes when it comes to specials," said Norwig, pointing out a special meatloaf sandwich on the menu that has a side of chimichurri and a tuna salad that is served in a bowl made from tempura and agave. Norwig also stands behind his natural hot dogs that come from Tender Belly hot dogs in Denver.Burger Bar and Fish is open seven days a week, from 11 a.m. to close."Every now and then we take a Japanese holiday because we need the night off," said Norwig with a smile.Follow Burger Bar and Fish on Facebook or call them at 970-429-8928.Steve Alldredge is the former associate editor/reporter for the Snowmass Sun. He now runs a local communications company whose clients include Related Colorado. He can be reached at: firstname.lastname@example.org.
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