Seafood Throwdown at Day at the Docks


For the first time, Seafood Throwdown is coming to North Carolina’s Outer Banks! We’ll be part of a 3-day celebration Day at the Docks, the first venue outside of New England where we are sponsoring a Throwdown.

For the first time, Seafood Throwdown is coming to North Carolina’s Outer Banks! We’ll be part of a 3-day celebration Day at the Docks, the first venue outside of New England where we are sponsoring a Throwdown.

We’ve put on over 50 Seafood Throwdowns to date and each one has been amazing in and of itself, but this one in North Carolina’s Outer Banks is really capturing our hearts. The connections being made to the fishing communities’ roots and the Conetoe Family Life Center gives us extra hope and goose bumps.

Produce and herbs will be donated by the Conetoe Family Life Center. Conetoe, population 365, a small town on the eastern edge of Edgecombe County, North Carolina, has the highest rate of diabetes of North Carolina’s 100 counties, and it ranks 96 in overall health outcomes. In 2007, Reverend Richard Joyner and other Conetoe Missionary Baptist Church members started the Conetoe Family Life Center, which provides mentorship, resources, and after-school programs to the town’s youth. In its search for a project that would inspire and educate youth, the Center piloted a two-acre community garden. The outcomes were promising: youth had the opportunity to learn science, math, and food production skills, regular volunteers started losing weight and cooking more meals at home, and community members took interest and began sharing their farming knowledge and under-used farm equipment.

In the past few years, the program has grown into a full-fledged vegetable farm of more than fifteen acres, with partner plots elsewhere in town and in nearby counties. The farm grows produce and makes honey for farmers’ markets in Rocky Mount, Raleigh, Tarboro, and Greenville and for the local Piggly Wiggly. Income from the project goes into scholarship funds for the youth members, and in the spring of 2012, the first set of the program’s alumni graduated from college. Reverend Joyner and garden youth volunteers plan to attend Day at the Docks to learn more about commercial fishing and seafood harvesting. Hatteras Island commercial fishermen plan to supply the Conetoe folks with iced and packed fish to share with the church’s congregation back home.

The connection with the Conetoe Family Life Center that is being made is pretty powerful, especially since we had already decided to focus the cooking at this year’s Throwdowns on children’s health. NAMA is proud to be part of this Seafood Throwdown.

The secret seafood ingredient will be revealed only when the competition starts, and chefs will then have one hour to select NC produce and herbs from the Throwdown pantry, and prepare, cook and plate their dishes for judges. Dishes will be judged on taste, originality, presentation, and use of the entire animal.

Bob Barris, a real estate broker with Hatteras Realty who also teaches Carolina Coastal Cooking classes at the company’s Avon office and who once worked as a commercial fisherman, will be the Throwdown emcee.

Jeff Aiken, owner of Jeffrey’s Seafood in Hatteras, will join Bob on the stage to talk about what it takes to get seafood from the water to the dinner table while the chefs are preparing their dishes.

Hatteras Island commercial fishermen will donate the secret seafood ingredient for the Throwdown.

Seafood Throwdown is just one part of a three day event starting with a free public forum titled “Let’s Talk About Fish and Fishermen” on Thursday, September 13, that will kick off Day at the Docks 2012. The forum will run from 4 pm to 6 pm on the grounds of the Seaside Inn in Hatteras village.

The forum will revolve around the question, “Are healthy fish stocks and healthy fishing communities mutually exclusive?”

Panelists from Massachusetts, Louisiana, Texas, and Oregon will talk about the major threats to the marine environment and to family-owned and family-operated fishing businesses in their homeports and how communities have coped with those threats.

Fish House Opera co-authors Dr. Barbara Garrity-Blake of Gloucester, NC and Susan West of Buxton, NC will moderate the forum. Cultural anthropologist and former NC Marine Fisheries Commissioner Garrity-Blake is a consultant and researcher with Raising the Story Works. She plays in a Cajun Zydeco band and helps organize the annual Mardi Gras festival in Gloucester. West is a correspondent for National Fisherman and served on the NC Joint Legislative Commission on Seafood and Aquaculture from 2003 until 2011. West’s husband Rob is a commercial fisherman and fishes their Buxton-built boat, the Lucy B., out of Hatteras village.

The panelists are:

  • Dave Densmore, a commercial fisherman and a poet, spent his childhood moving between the Aleutians and Kodiak, Alaska and owned a skiff and outboard by the time he was ten. He has gillnetted on the Columbia River, king crabbed out of Dutch Harbor and Unalaska, and trolled for salmon off the Pacific Coast. He and his crew once spent four nights in a life raft adrift in the Bering Sea after their king crab boat caught fire and burned. He currently lives in Astoria, Oregon where he participates in the annual FishersPoets Gathering, but continues to fish summers out of Larsen Bay, a village on Kodiak Island. Densmore says his poetry is about life as observed from a commercial fisherman’s perspective.
  • Diane Wilson is a fourth generation shrimper, mother of five, author, and an environmental, peace and social justice advocate from Seadrift, Texas. She began fishing the bays off the Gulf Coast of Texas at the age of eight. By twenty-four, she was a boat captain. In 1989, while running her brother’s fish house at the docks and mending nets, she read a newspaper article that listed her home of Calhoun County as the number one toxic polluter in the country. She set up a meeting in the town hall to discuss what the chemical plants were doing to the bays and thus began her life as an environmental activist. Threatened by thugs and despised by her neighbors, Diane insisted the truth be told and that Formosa Plastics stop dumping toxins into the bay. She launched legislative campaigns, demonstrations, hunger strikes, sunk boats, and even climbed chemical towers in her fight to protect her Gulf Coast bay. She recounted that dramatic struggle in An Unreasonable Woman: A true Story of Shrimpers, Politicos, Polluters, and the Fight for Seadrift, Texas, published by Chelsea Green Publishing Company in 2005. She was featured as one of twelve local heroes profiled in Your America on PBS.
  • Niaz Dorry is coordinating director of the Northwest Atlantic Marine Alliance, an organization dedicated to restoring and enhancing a marine system capable of supporting healthy, diverse and abundant marine life and human uses. She & her dog, Hailey, live in Gloucester, Massachusetts – the oldest settled fishing port in the U.S. Her dog Hailey is one of the lucky dogs who survived Hurricane Katrina and is Niaz’ daily reminder of all the fishing communities that are yet to be rebuilt since the Indian Ocean tsunami and Hurricanes Katrina and Rita and other disasters. Dorry began working with small-scale, traditional, and indigenous fishing communities as a Greenpeace oceans and fisheries campaigner, and then continued that work independently. Time magazine named Dorry a “Hero For The Planet” for her work. She serves on the executive committees of the National Family Farm Coalition and Granite State Fish, and is as an advisor to the Harvard Medical School’s Center for Health and Global Environment.
  • Robert Fritchey considers any day not spent outdoors to be a waste. Born in Pennsylvania, he completed his masters’ degree in Tropical Medicine and Medical Parasitology at LSU Medical Center in New Orleans in 1978. Apparently born to fish, he traded microscopes for nets to become a commercial fisherman in South Louisiana’s fertile coastal marshes. A passion for netting redfish from a souped-up “mudboat” led him into the 1980s controversies over that species. South Louisiana’s coastal fishermen had been netting redfish for the markets and restaurants in New Orleans for well over a century when some of the nation’s wealthiest sportsmen began to regard this publicly owned resource as their own. As they pressured the state’s government to deny traditional fishermen and seafood consumers access to wild-caught red drum, the covetous sportsmen cynically portrayed the rural netters as “greedy,” and themselves as “conservationists.” Frustrated with media coverage of the issue, he wrote and published Wetland Riders in 1994, to directly inform the public that its access to seafood was threatened. Put out of business by Louisiana’s 1995 legislative net ban, Robert had nothing better to do than start work on a sequel, Gulf Wars: Southern Sportsmen on the March. Gulf Wars is a detailed history of the net-ban battles that came in the wake of the most expensive and elaborate “environmental education” campaign in the nation’s history.

For more information on Day at the Docks, please visit their website.