Lobster is often on the menu at chef Guy Turland. Not because he’s a multi-millionaire – although his laid-back Bondi Beach cafe and restaurant, The Depot, is doing just fine, thanks for asking – but because the 36-year-old surfer, spearfisherman and freediver doesn’t like nothing more than going into the ocean and catching his own.
His other favorite sustainably caught seafood is trevally. “These are quite decadent and rich and refined ingredients,” he says after a busy Friday lunch service. “But being a restaurant owner, I’m going to take my wins where I can.”
The son of a builder, Turland grew up in Bowral, New South Wales, where he developed a deep understanding of where food comes from and who grows it. After moving to Sydney to start his career in hospitality, he fell in love with spearfishing, snorkeling and hunting for his own food, underwater.
“I think as soon as you start putting your head underwater and looking for your own fish, you get an understanding of the larger environment, where things are coming from and how everything has some sort of connection,” he said. “And certainly the fear of what might happen if that balance is completely ruined by bad practices and greed.”
The experience launched him on a journey to fight for a better ecological future, for future generations. “If we can leave the world better after we’re gone, we’ve done our job. And I think we all have a responsibility to do that.
Does sustainably caught seafood taste better? “I really believe it,” he said. “And I think the reason for that is that part of a sustainable practice is looking after these animals and making sure they were harvested quickly, responsibly and ethically. And when I say ethical… when a fish is brought up, it falls asleep as quickly as possible. In that process, if it’s not cared for, if it’s in pain, if there’s a long, terrible experience for that animal, all those hormones go into the flesh itself. And I believe it changes the flavor.
Turland’s outspoken passion for sustainable seafood quickly caught the attention of the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) – an international non-profit organization that recognizes and rewards efforts to protect the oceans and preserve the supply of seafood. of the sea for the future – and he says the relationship he has had with the MSC over the past two years has flourished. “It’s something I’m really proud to be a part of.”
Turland’s sustainable philosophy also extends beyond the fish on a plate. Whether
it’s about buying ethical ingredients, carrying a reusable coffee cup, not using plastic or picking up plastic litter when he sees it, says Turland, it’s about trying. “We can’t expect people to be perfect,” he says. Better millions of people who do sustainable development imperfectly than a handful who do it perfectly.
Sustainability extends to all facets of Turland’s life, including her pets. He says he was already feeding his two rescue cats, Nim and Spike, quality pet food when he noticed Dine (owned by Mars Petcare Australia) had produced a new high quality product with a tick mark. MSC Blue (a packaging brand that certifies ingredients include sustainable seafood caught from healthy wild fish populations). It was obvious to change.
“And they love it, to be honest,” he laughs. “We feed them every morning, every afternoon, then we dry the kibble in between. Where we can make small changes, I think we should. And switching from non-sustainable cat food to sustainable cat food, it has no impact on my life, it doesn’t make my life more difficult, but I know it makes a difference.
At this year’s MSC Sustainable Seafood Awards Australia, DineⓇ Fresh & Fine Adult Wet Cat Food in Tuna & Salmon Jelly was co-winner in the Best Sustainable Seafood category. This is not the first time that Dine has been recognized for supporting our oceans, and is part of the brand’s ongoing partnership with the MSC as well as its campaign to promote reef restoration and sustainable fishing.
It may just be cat food, but it’s an important example of what Turland sees as essential to ensuring our oceans remain viable and protected for future generations. “I don’t know about you, but I don’t want my money going to someone destroying the ocean, I want to make sure my hard-earned money is supporting a sustainable and beneficial system.”
So the next time you go to the supermarket, look for sustainably sourced ingredients and talk to your fishmonger. “The more you ask this question, ‘Is my seafood sustainable and where does it come from?’, the more the whole system is likely to change,” says Turland. “Because at the end of the day, it’s the consumer who drives it.”
Dine runs the largest coral reef conservation project in the world. Learn more.