Business owner and seafood connoisseur Chris Holland knows every captain by name who brought in the fish, stone crab claws and lobster at his restaurant, Stoned Crab, and to his soon-to-be Dock to Dish business.
And that’s the way it should be, he said. He’s starting a new business so that everyone — families to chefs — can have the same opportunity.
“Dock to Dish is hoping to have a fleet of 40 boats. Fishermen must agree to certain protocols. For example, fish must be put in a saltwater brine instead of on ice,” said Holland.
Holland’s new enterprise with colleagues Paul Menta and Tony Osborn is modeled after a similar enterprise in Montauk, New York, where it distributes to high-end seafood restaurants such as Nick & Toni’s.
“We are incorporating something very ancient with something very new. Merging internet and apps with something that has been being done for thousands of years, fishing,” said Holland.
Dock to Dish members will install an app and get notifications everyday of what the boats bring in: cobia, hogfish, etc. The process cuts out the middleman and, potentially, a dozen hands, freezers and hours on the road.
Although membership pricing is still partial, Holland said it would be affordable for families. Members can order as little as 2 pounds a week to hundreds for large restaurant orders. The fish would be available for pick up at Ibis Bay in Key West within 24 hours.
“There is no comparison in taste to fresh fish,” Tony Osborn said.
Beyond freshness and easily availability, Holland touts the other benefits of Dock to Dish. The money stays local, reduces emissions associated with transport costs, and fresh fish is better for a person’s health than frozen or overly processed fish.
Education is an essential part on Dock to Dish. Holland explained that in today’s world a lot of fish sold are caught or farm-raised overseas, frozen and sold wholesale to a majority of restaurants — even some in the Keys — all unbeknownst to the consumer.
“Packaged fish is passed between 6 and 22 hands before it ends up on a plate,” he said. “And, unfortunately, there are some farms where tilapia are fed pig feces.”
Holland credits “American Fish” by Paul Greenberg, a pioneer of the Dock to Dish movement for his inspiration to start the local program. The New Yorker said in its review, “while 91 percent of the seafood Americans eat is foreign, a third of the seafood Americans catch gets sold to foreigners … “
To sign up for a membership or learn more go, to docktodish.com. Memberships will be available on a first come, first serve basis.