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Hooked on Fresh Fish in the Pennswood Village Dining Room

Posted on December 13, 2016 in General, Staff Profile

Pennswood Village is committed to providing a unique and exceptional dining experience for residents—and the foundation of this experience is the ingredients used in cooking the meals. Pennswood cares about the sustainability and quality of the food served. Strongly believing in the Quaker tenant that we are all stewards of the Earth, the talented culinary staff has a passion for curating meals that are fresh, seasonal and locally sourced whenever possible. They not only create delicious meals, but also help support community farmers and the greater environment.

untitledOne particularly interesting facet of dining at Pennswood Village is our fish. It is quickly becoming a talking point with fresh local and exotic fish being featured on the menu. With 42 years of culinary experience, Executive Chef Steve Plescha of Pennswood doesn’t just order all the fish, make recipes and cook. He also emphasizes the importance of locally sourced fish and the farm-to-table movement by always sourcing the fish responsibly so not only the residents get the best-tasting fish, but also so the oceans remain a stable ecosystem.

Chef Steve and his team buy and serve over 9,000 pounds of fresh fish per year. They only source fish that are the fresh catch of the day, using the Monterey Bay Aquarium Seafood Watch as a guide for sustainable fish purchasing. Chef Steve even makes sure to monitor the latest trends in fishing by following the blog of one of the East Coast’s top fishmongers, and monitors the weather.

“A lot of people don’t understand how much fishing is weather-driven,” says Chef Steve. “For example, when the weather was bad a few weeks ago, the stripers ran off the coast, with other fish following them, and so on. This can create an imbalance in the ecosystem, so even though it might be in season to fish for stripers, their numbers are low because of the change.”

This past summer they sourced jumbo scallops from Bellmawr, New Jersey as well as bluefish, sole, flounder and tilefish from the New Jersey shore. When locally sourced fish is unavailable, they source from sustainable fisheries along the East Coast, the Gulf of Mexico, Northern Canada, the Caribbean, and even Saudi Arabia.

“At least 95 percent of the time the fish hasn’t even been out of the ocean longer than 72 hours,” explains Chef Steve. “In fact, sometimes I’ll be on the phone with our fish source who is in direct communication with the captain on the boat, so we know the exact conditions the fish are being caught in and how many are being harvested. This makes the work even more exciting, and helps ensure the best quality fish for our residents.”

image001Part of Chef Steve’s job as executive chef is to understand the residents and their awareness to being environmentally conscious. He presents lectures at Pennswood Village to help inform residents about how the fish market works, how fishing seasons are decided, and the importance of trends like sustainability and the farm-to-table movement.

Sustainable fishing is important because it targets species that are plentiful, smaller, or lower on the food chain as they will have a higher rate of reproduction, instead of overfishing, which helps better maintain the ecosystem. Knowing where the fish—or any ingredient—came from before it was on the dinner table makes those eating it feel better about their health and environmental impact. That’s why Chef Steve puts the location of where the fish was caught on every menu, and makes sure that even when sourcing fish and other ingredients from outside the region that the environmental footprint is as small as possible.

After all, we not only want to enjoy our meals because of the flavor, but feel good about where the ingredients came from.

If you want to learn more about the exceptional dining services we provide, call us at 866-740-4977 for more information or to schedule a tour to taste for yourself!