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Fish quotas make things interesting for restaurant chefs

When a Charleston, S.C., fishing boat captain approached chef Mike Lata to say federal quotas were limiting his grouper and snapper catches, the chef told him to bring everything he caught instead of limiting himself to the popular species.

“I told him on his next trip to bring us everything he caught and we’d pay,” Lata told the Wall Street Journal.

He began cooking what some refer to as “trash fish,” a term used by fishermen who were unable to sell them, but now co-opted by some of their staunchest advocates.

Lata and his cooks discovered that many fish in the grab bag of amberjack, banded rudderfish, mackerel, eel, lionfish and sea robin were remarkably delicious.

“This was great product, treated with care and attention, only the species’ names weren’t marketable,” Lata said. “So we decided to take care of the marketing side.”