Chef Kyle Bailey Launches Dock to Dish in Washington D.C
This spring, Executive Chef Kyle Bailey and Long Shot Hospitality will open The Salt Line (79 Potomac Avenue SE) in the revitalized Capitol Riverfront neighborhood, and with it, will debut a groundbreaking economic model for sourcing local seafood in the mid-Atlantic. Bailey is Washington D.C.’s founding member of Dock to Dish—a cooperative program similar to Community Supported Agriculture (CSA), originally developed by commercial fishermen and sustainability advocates in search of a supply-driven system of sourcing and distributing wild harvest seafood. The program has revolutionized the seafood industry by creating a series of hyperlocal, membership-based supply-driven cooperatives, and has been called ‘fundamentally different’ for its waste management, transparency, reliability and small carbon footprint.
The region’s first Restaurant Supported Fishery (RSF) program will connect fishermen with outstanding chefs and consumers throughout the region via Annapolis-based Old Line Fish Co. In 2015, the Oyster Recovery Partnership founded the company to form the Chesapeake Bay region’s first Community Supported Fishery (CSF). Applying the same model to restaurants means that all seafood supplied to member restaurants will come from within 150 miles of Washington D.C. and, at The Salt Line, will supply a portion of the daily menu, changing in line with the week’s catch.
The original Dock to Dish RSF program was created in Montauk, New York, by co-founders chef and author Dan Barber and his brother David, owners of Blue Hill at Stone Barns. That program now includes nearly 30 premier restaurant members in New York City and numerous progressive institutions including the Google Corporation’s Manhattan campus. To date, seafood travels an average of 135 miles in the New York program, compared to the national average of 5,475. Bailey’s Washington D.C. program joins other existing Dock to Dish programs under the leadership of likeminded, outstanding chefs—Chef Michael Cimarusti and Chef Niki Nakayama in Los Angeles; Chef Ned Bell in Vancouver, British Columbia; and in Costa Rica, based at the renowned Cayuga Collection of ecolodges and resorts, where seafood travels an impressive average of eight miles. Other chef members include industry legends like Thomas Keller and Eric Ripert, and in each region, the message remains providing a steady supply of local seafood, building the capacity of local fishermen and stabilizing the supply chain economy.
In 2007, Bailey left his position at Cru, the New York Times three-star restaurant in Greenwich Village, to join Dan Barber’s culinary team at Blue Hill. Since then, he’s built a career sharing Barber’s philosophy about responsible sourcing, and thus Barber approved Bailey to launch Dock to Dish. At The Salt Line Bailey’s goals include expanding the program to like-minded restaurant members, and putting the program’s message center stage in a national discussion about environmental vitality. Barber says of Bailey, "In all my years of doing this, I still think of Kyle as the one that got away. He is this rare—and sometimes contradictory—combination: supremely talented yet perpetually curious, even-keeled yet infectiously energized. More than that, he has something that’s essential in every chef: a sense for good food that is deeply intuitive, and entirely his own." Bailey’s intuition will be the driving force behind Dock to Dish’s application on his menu – varying almost daily depending on the haul, and challenging the culinary team to be inventive and adventurous in their preparations.
Bailey and his partners at Long Shot Hospitality hope The Salt Line becomes synonymous with long-term sustainability for the Chesapeake Bay. Under the cooperative model, fishermen are paid in advance by member chefs, securing a share of subsequent hauls for their restaurants. Because Dock to Dish is focused on local supply, dramatically less fish are harvested, eliminating nearly all waste. It means fishermen catch what they are legally allowed, and a broad variety of underutilized species can be added to the menu—those that are fresh, available, and abundant on any given day, as opposed to simply the species that are popular.
For Bailey, it means part of the menu will be incredibly dynamic—far more than simply a “catch of the day.” It means guests will have the chance to taste unique local species as they are available. The menu will focus on abundant and underutilized species to reduce harvest pressure on popular favorites like salmon and shrimp; and The Salt Line will rely on FishWatch.gov for the most updated, science-based sustainability ratings. The local selections at The Salt Line will be reliable, traceable, and sustainable, however Operating Partner Jeremy Carman understands that tastes also vary. “While Dock to Dish allows us to support our local fisherman and provide our guests something fresh and responsible whenever possible, we also realize we can’t feed everyone this way and remain good stewards of the Bay. Kyle will also make incredible New England style dishes that he is very proud of; we will have a variety of oysters from around the world, and we hope to please just about any taste.”