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March 16, 2009

Iron Chef Boycotts Canadian Seafood

Cat Cora joins The HSUS in protecting seals

The Humane Society of the United States

Cat Cora Joins Seafood Boycott

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"It was a no-brainer for me to support The HSUS and the ProtectSeals campaign."

At the 2009 Sundance Film Festival in Park City, Utah, Iron Chef and lifelong animal lover Cat Cora was honored by The Humane Society of the United States for her pledge to join The HSUS's ProtectSeals campaign and to boycott Canadian seafood until Canada ends its commercial seal hunt.

Cat talked with The HSUS about the dinner she prepared for the Sundance event, and why she is speaking out on behalf of animals. Below are excerpts from the interview, featured in the upcoming issue of All Animals magazine.

HSUS: As Executive Chef for Bon Appétit magazine, you hosted a celebrity dinner at Sundance that featured the screening of a documentary about the Canadian seal hunt. Tell us about that event.

Cat Cora: I hosted the dinner at the Bon Appétit Supper Club. Paris Hilton was there, a lot of musicians were there. It was a very excited crowd. Everybody was very supportive, listening to what Nigel [Barker] was saying about his close up experiences. [Ed. America's Next Top Model Photographer Nigel Barker documented the 2008 Canadian seal hunt in a short film called "A Sealed Fate."]

HSUS: How will joining the boycott of Canadian seafood impact you?

Cat: All along, I’ve been a huge supporter of sustainable fishing. I think it’s important that we— fishermen, chefs, farmers—all support sustainable ecosystems. If we’re not buying products that are not grown or procured sustainably and humanely, then there won’t be a business for it—whether it’s the seal hunt and the pelts are not selling in the market, whether it’s fisherman, whether it’s farmers, whether it’s ranchers... We‘re the ones who have a choice, and if we choose not to sell something, it’s going to have a huge impact financially.

HSUS: Is this the first time you’ve officially supported an animal cause?

Cat: Officially to do a campaign—yes. But over the years, our pets [have only come] from local shelters. At one point when I was in New York, I was very much into rescuing greyhounds. So, officially, yes—personally, no. It’s kind of been a lifelong mission.

HSUS: You whipped up a gourmet vegan meal for the ProtectSeals campaign at Sundance. What did you serve?

Cat: I did an amazing winter squash and saffron soup with marcona almond croutons to start. For dinner, [there was] an herb and wild mushroom potato risotto, made with potato instead of arborio rice, which is delicious. And then for dessert I did [a] chocolate ganache tart.

We did some great appetizers as well—polenta cakes with Swiss chard and kale, and chickpea fritters with cornichons and romesco sauce. It was all delicious and people were pretty much raving about it—I was proud of it!

HSUS: Would you share one of the recipes from the dinner with us?

Cat: Absolutely! I’ll give you them all. 

Cat Cora’s Supper Club Dinner Menu, January 18th, 2009

Starter
Flatbread with Hummus & Za’Atar-Seasoned Mixed Olives

Appetizers
Chickpea Fritters with Romesco Sauce and Cornichon
Grilled Polenta with Sauteed Chard and Candied Pepitas

Dinner
First: Roasted Winter Squash and Saffron Soup with Marcona Almond Croutons
Main: Herbed Potato "Risotto" with Chanterelle Mushrooms and Black Truffle
Dessert: Chocolate Ganache Tartlett with Salted Caramel Gelato and Roasted Peanut Brittle

Our thanks to Cat Cora for sharing her recipes. 

Fact: Fishermen from Canada's East Coast earn a small fraction of their incomes from sealing—primarily from the sale of seal pelts to European fashion markets.

Fact: Canadian seafood exports to the United States contribute $2.5 billion annually to the Canadian economy—dwarfing the few million dollars provided by the seal hunt (less than $7 million last year).

Fact: The connection between the commercial fishing industry and the seal hunt in Canada gives consumers all over the world the power to end this cruel and brutal slaughter.

Is the boycott working? A growing number of chefs, restaurants, and businesses have signed on to the boycott of Canadian seafood. Since 2005, more than 600,000 individuals and more than 5,000 grocery stores and restaurants have pledged to avoid some or all Canadian seafood.

You can help: With your help, 2009 could be the year the brutal seal hunt finally comes to an end.

Ways to Take Action: 

1. Sign the pledge to boycott Canadian seafood.
Already signed? Please tell five friends now, before this year’s hunt starts and it’s too late.

2. Support the restaurants, chefs, and businesses have already joined the boycott. Find out who signed.

3. Ask your local restaurants and businesses to join the boycott.

Learn more at ProtectSeals.org.

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