Last summer the outlook for the Gulf of Mexico region seemed bleak as barrels of oil spewed from a broken pipeline. Throughout the summer, oil covered animals, tourists turned away from sun-filled destinations, and fishermen couldn’t bring in seafood catches. With the oil now capped, people of the Gulf look for a comeback in one hard hit industry. And in Mobile Bay on Dauphin Island, Alabama, the road to recovery enlisted the assistance of Food Network star Alton Brown.
Brown, the host of Good Eats and Iron Chef America commentator, is a long-time proponent of sustainable seafood and spent time on Dauphin Island learning about the science used to assure seafood safety in the aftermath. “I spent a lot of time today learning about the systems that were invented, the methodologies that were invented to test seafood to insure the safety of seafood when things like this happen,” he said of his visit.
At an event to raise awareness and funds for fishing families and the Dauphin Island Sea Lab Foundation, Brown played cheerleader for Gulf seafood. “Nature can take care of itself and human beings have a really hard time keeping nature down. I think we have that to be thankful for because even after such a horrific tragedy we now have safe seafood again. And it’s certainly going to be part of the message I’m going to take to the rest of the world and certain to the people I touch on a daily basis, which is Gulf seafood is back with a vengeance. It’s delicious as ever. There’s more of it as ever. And it’s safe,” said Brown.
The Peabody Award winning host called Dauphin Island a “perfect storm” saying, “You’ve got this amazing island and you’ve got this amazing seafood here around this island. The greatest diversity of delicious seafood, pretty much, in the United States. If I only ate seafood out of a hundred mile circle with Dauphin Island in the middle of it for the rest of my life, I’d be okay with that. But somebody would have to go for beer.”
Known for his scientific approach to cooking, Brown spent an afternoon learning from a host of PhDs from the Dauphin Island Sea Lab and an FDA Lab, both on the island. He told those attending, “Believe it or not, guys, this is going to happen again. It may not happen here but because it happened here really good people have figured out ways for it to never hurt quite as bad again. So, I hope that you are proud of that because your community and the organizations that are here inside of your community have made that happen. So, you guys have actually made the world a better place. Good science is being practiced here, you’ve got that to be proud of.”
Brown had praise for everyone touched by the event last summer. ““I know that what happened here last year was bad. It was bad. And for a lot of you it continues to be a bad thing. But, I would like you to think about how it looks to me from the outside, which is several great things that have come out of what you encountered last year. One, we have learned, and this has been confirmed by the folks at both the Sea Lab and FDA Lab here is that nature bounces back.”
Brown continued, “I know it is tough to see it when you are living inside of a problem but the whole world, the entire planet all of the way around, got to witness in the last year a real triumph of the human spirit here in the Gulf. In the end, you can’t keep good people down.”