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Chef Dory Ford at the Carmel Tomato Fest 2007

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Chef Dory Ford, Executive Chef of the California Monterey Bay Aquarium prepared a Lemony Tarlettet with Green Zebra Coulis and Toy Box Tomato Salsa. Chef's love the Toy Box Tomatoes as they are very small cherry tomatoes in a melange of colours. Green Zebra is also a favourite with chefs for it's tart sweet flavour and gorgeous green with amber hues when ripe.

Chef Dory Ford is an enthusiastic chef who strongly supports using only environmentally sustainable ingredients in the California Monterey Bay Aquarium menu. When he describes his childhood on Vancouver Island--catching wild salmon in the Campbell River, foraging for chanterelles, picking huckleberries for pie, kicking up oysters at low tide and roasting them on a campfire--it's hard to imagine an upbringing more suitable for his current occupation.

Typical of menu items would be fresh from the sea: grilled wild salmon as the centerpiece of a delicious seafood dinner by chef Dory Ford of California's Monterey Bay Aquarium. Everything on the menu happens to be environmentally sustainable too; it's good cooking that's part of a bigger picture. As executive chef at the Monterey Bay Aquarium, Ford makes great-tasting food that also happens to be environmentally sustainable. Working with the aquarium's Seafood Watch program and the fishermen and farmers who supply his kitchen, Ford keeps his cooking close to West Coast sources, his eye on the ocean, and his menus grounded in the seasons.

At a recent party in Carmel, California, for his colleagues, Ford created a dinner that included oysters hand-raised in the pristine waters of Hog Island, 165 miles to the north, as well as wild Pacific halibut and wild Alaska salmon, both from fisheries that are managed well. Seafood Watch recommends using farmed oysters, which can be grown in protected areas and harvested with minimal environmental impact. Have your fishmonger do the shucking if you like; just ask that the juices be saved.

The Monterey Bay Aquarium has a monthly series of exclusive dinners in its ocean view Portola Restaurant. The “Chef Dinner Series,” which usually begin in late summer and feature gourmet meals prepared by aquarium Executive Chef Dory Ford, paired with fine wines and accompanied by Ford’s cooking suggestions. Each intimate evening promises to be a delicious and educational experience with lively culinary conversation – often with a special guest.

Ford’s lifelong passion for cooking is fueled by a love for fresh, seasonal food. At the aquarium, he has created new dishes for the full-service Portola Restaurant and self-serve Portola Cafe that are made with sustainable and/or organic ingredients – especially seafood. He has conducted many cooking classes in his 11-year career as an executive chef, and said he is looking forward to creating new dining experiences at the aquarium.

“These events offer more than just a new place to come and eat,” Ford said. “We’ll engage our guests so they’ll come away more aware, having learned something about cooking, food, wine, entertaining. The possibilities are endless.”

Ford’s career as an executive chef has taken him to Gai Klass Catering (repeatedly voted Best Caterer in Los Angeles by Zagat), The Huntington Library and Botanical Gardens in San Marino, and the Jonathan Beach Club in Santa Monica.

The Bon Appétit Management Co. operates the aquarium’s Portola Restaurant and Portola Cafe. Known for their commitment to sustainable and local foods, the Palo Alto-based food service company operates restaurants, cafés and catering services at corporations, universities and specialty venues, including DreamWorks SKG, Google, Cisco Systems, the Getty Center, Art Institute of Chicago, and the Massachusetts Institute of Technology.
For more information about the “Chef Dinner Series” visit
The mission of the Monterey Bay Aquarium is to inspire conservation of the oceans.

"Everything on this menu is food I grew up with," he says. "Salmon in season, oysters ... What we call 'sustainable seafood' is just how we ate. It's about being conscious of where your food comes from."

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Chef Dory Ford, Chef at California Monterey Bay at the Tomato Fest
At the Tomato Fest in Sanfrancisco, Chef Dory Ford, Executive Chef of the California Monterey Bay Aquarium talks about the Lemony Tarlettet he prepared with Green Zebra Coulis and Toy Box Tomato Salsa.

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