Chefs like Gaël Orieux are living by Wendell Berry's maxim, whether they've heard it or not, by turning eating into an agricultural act
Megrim is a flat fish that resembles a sole. But try and cook it like a sole, meunière, say, lightly coated in flour and pan fried in butter, and you won't end up with the delight described by Julia Child on her first meal just off the boat in Normandy. Instead, top a piece of its filet with a mint leaf, roll it in filo pastry, and deep fry it for less than a minute, and you'll pay tribute to its tender flesh, the crunch of the filo pastry, and the fresh mint that brings a pleasant contrast to the melting texture of the fish.
The creation is from Parisian chef Gaël Orieux. Whether or not Orieux ever heard of Wendell Berry's maxim "eating is an agricultural act," the way he works as a chef is a concrete illustration of it, and it is a reminder that changing our food system is not only about producers and consumers and how to reconnect them. It's also about chefs.
In his one-star Michelin restaurant, Auguste, in Paris, Orieux serves lesser-known fish alongside more common ones depending on the season and abundance. He wants his clients to experience that there is pleasure in eating fish beyond tuna, salmon, and sea bass. By reducing pressure on the handful of species usually served in restaurants, he adds, we'll help recover a healthier ecosystem in our oceans and seas. He is a spokesperson for Mr Goodfish, an awareness campaign on sustainable consumption of seafood, and was one of the many talented chefs cooking at Slow Fish, the Slow Food biennial conference on sustainable fishing held in Genoa.