May 1 2014, 4:24pm CDT | by Forbes
Bart van Olphen wants to teach the world to cook fish without wrecking the planet. He picked an unorthodox but highly modern way to do that. Billed as the world’s shortest cooking show, his Bart’s Fish Tales is a collection of 15-second Instagram videos in each of which van Olphen makes a seafood dish such as moules marinière, salad niçoise, and fillet smoked mackerel from start to finish. Fifteen seconds isn’t a lot of time, so Bart keeps the recipes simple and the instructions minimal. He’s already got 43,000 followers.
“Our goal is a new video every week. Those mainly serve to inspire responsible eating, and show how easily a seafood dish can be prepared—so many people still believe seafood is difficult to cook,” explains Bart.
A graduate of Netherland’s Hotelschool Den Haag, Bart earned much of his early kitchen experience working for a number of Paris restaurants. “The suppliers came in daily with fresh catch,” says Bart over email. “But more interesting to me were the kinds of stories they brought with that wonderful piece of fish. I learned about the fishing communities, their way of fishing and just how they lived their lives.”
It was here that Bart became interested in sustainable fishing, an issue now driving van Olphen’s plans for a media and product empire. He is working with U.S. production company OutEast Entertainment to create a TV series in which he’ll travel the world visiting sustainable fisheries. He’s also in talks to launch a sustainable seafood line in the U.S.—with products like tuna and anchovies already on supermarket shelves in Holland. “It’s so difficult to walk into a standard grocery store and find responsibly farmed seafood and seafood products. It shouldn’t be,” says Bart. “The oceans will be empty if we keep consuming fish the way we have been.”
Last week, the UN’s Food and Agriculture Organization hosted the Global Oceans Action Summit for Food Security and Blue Growth in The Hague, Netherlands. Demand for fish protein is expected to double in the next 20 years, and member nations of the summit warn that 28 percent of global stocks are overfished. There is a concerted effort for countries to promote better aquaculture—the responsible cultivation of fish and fisheries.
“We have the opportunity to align all our efforts and bring solutions to scale locally. With public-private partnerships and shared approaches we can restore ocean health and provide food and jobs for communities worldwide,” said Juergen Voegele, director of Agriculture and Environmental Services at the World Bank, a co-organizer of the event, in a press release ahead of the summit.
Bart’s focus on localized efforts to catch and serve healthy fish is ultimately highlighting the practices many consumers don’t get to see. But he admits it’s not him that viewers should be concentrating on.
“Fish Tales is telling stories about the men and women who make the choice to catch fish the right way. They’re the ones to support in order to have fish consumption assured for next generations. I am just the one cooking and making sure their tales are being told.”
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