Sustainability and the health of our Salish Sea and waterways has long been an area of focus for the ownership and staff at Ray’s Boathouse. We’ve always worked to educate our team about what they are serving, where it came from and how it was caught or harvested. We visit our fishermen and women and other purveyors to see where our product comes from and how they run their businesses.
In the last year we partnered with non-profit Long Live the Kings (LLTK) to take an even larger role in the welfare of our local salmon runs so that generations to come can enjoy fresh wild salmon as we have. We are shifting our focus from one of sustainability to one that ensures our salmon populations increase as our city and infrastructure continues to grow and change.
Everything LLTK does is on behalf of improving the health and habitats of local salmon including three main areas: advancing science, improving management and implementing solutions.
Recently our team had the opportunity to sit down with the Executive Director of LLTK, Jacques White, for a lesson in salmon sustainability and the current state of our local runs, as well as updates regarding the Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force which is helping to ensure they have enough wild salmon to survive.
In the early 1980s there were nearly 1,000,000 Chinook salmon harvested here compared to about 200,000 in 2010. The biggest factors affecting Salish Sea salmon populations are:
- Food sources (zooplankton and other salmon friendly nutrients)
Each of these plays a role in the reduction of salmon for various reasons and when compounded it’s easy to see why our local salmon are suffering.
There is no quick solution to this issue, but they have seen positive results in recent years including the ongoing restoration of Hood Canal summer chum. These fish were nearly extinct by the early 1990s but with the help of LLTK operating a conservation hatchery program to increase the abundance of naturally spawning summer chum, the number of adults returning to these rivers annually has increased from the 100s to well over 2,000.
LLTK is also actively involved in the Southern Resident Killer Whale Recovery Task Force developed recently to address population concerns for these whales. The task force made recommendations to Governor Inslee to protect orcas and aid in their recovery with 11 of the 36 recommendations influenced by LLTK’s Salish Sea Marine Survival Project!
Ray’s is dedicated to this cause and doing what we can to increase the populations of our local salmon. For us it starts at the team level getting everyone at Ray’s to understand the issues at hand and to be able to educate our guests.
We invite you to learn more and get involved in this journey with us at LLTK.org.
Images courtesy of Long Live the Kings.
Raise a glass to support salmon restoration at Ray’s Boathouse & Café this fall!
We are excited to announce our Salmon Safe wine promotion in partnership with Long Live the Kings! $1 from each glass or bottle sold from these special wine lists, will be donated to Long Live the Kings, a local non-profit and proud partner of Ray’s, that works to restore wild salmon and steelhead, and support sustainable fishing in the Salish Sea. Their programs―combining on-the-ground field work with scientific innovation and broad partnerships―help decision-makers advance salmon recovery.
The ‘Salmon Safe‘ certification for a vineyard reflects a grape growers commitment to vineyard management focused on the impact on water quality and salmon habitat.
This wine promotion will run in both the Boathouse and Café now through November 7th, each with different offerings. Scroll down to view the full menus and visit rays.com or call 206.789.3770 to reserve. We look forward to seeing you soon!
Boathouse Salmon Safe Wine Menu*
Hedges Family Estate Syrah
‘DLD’ Cuvée Marcel Dupont
Red Mountain, WA 2013
15 gls / 55 btl
Dedicated to Anne-Marie Hedges’s grandfather, Marcel Dupont, this cuvée displays the greatest qualities of low yield farming and the hallmarks of Red Mountain Syrah: earthy minerality, rich dark fruits, dried spices, cocoa, leather and smoke.
Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Gris
Eola-Amity-Hills, OR 2017
15 gls / 55 btl
A rich and textured pinot gris with nectarine, apricot and peach flavors set against a bright core of mouth watering acidity. Elegant yet powerful.
Brickhouse Vineyard Chardonnay
Ribbon Ridge, OR 2015
16 gls / 64 btl
A very ‘old world’ and Burgundian style wine using 100% organic grapes and biodynamic farming. Lemon cream, yellow apple, nutty minerality and saline tinged wet stone.
Sokol Blosser Esate Rosé
Dundee Hills, OR 2017
13 gls / 50 btl
It may not be summer but it’s certainly still a great time to enjoy this rosé made from 100% Pinot Noir grapes. Fresh strawberry, pink grapefruit and blood orange with a hint of pepper spicing up the finish.
Brickhouse Vineyards Pinot Noir
Ribbon Ridge, OR 2016
30 gls / 110 btl
From the opening aroma, the complexities compound, offering pepper, spice, cranberry, candied rose petal, red berry and cherry notes. Sautéed herbs, underbrush and a stony minerality frame the elegant fruit flavors.
Chateau Ste. Michelle
Cold Creek Vineyard
Columbia Valley, WA 2013
16 gls / 60 btl
Inky black in color, this Cab is ripe, sexy, textured and with real density; it gives up lots of chocolate, caramelized plum, vanilla bean, and currant-like aromas and flavors.
àMaurice Cellars ‘Night Owl’
Merlot/Cab Sauv & Franc/Petit Verdot
Walla Walla, WA 2013
23 gls / 85 btl
Offering an exotic, complex bouquet of lavender, wild herbs, loamy earth and both red and black fruits, this estate grown blend is medium-bodied and elegant with a dark, meaty, chocolaty, earthy core.
Cafe Salmon Safe Wine Menu*
Sokol Blosser Estate Pinot Gris
Willamette Valley, OR 2017 12 gls / 46 btl
Fresh citrus rind, grapefruit, white flowers and wet stone.
Terra Blanca Chardonnay ‘Arch Terrace’
Red Mountain, WA 2017 11 gls / 40 btl
Barrel fermented featuring yellow apple, ripe pears and creamy citrus.
Hedges Family Estate Syrah ‘DLD’
Red Mountain, WA 2013 15 gls / 55 btl
All the hallmarks of Red Mountain Syrah: earthy minerality, rich dark fruits, dried spices, cocoa, leather and smoke.
Bethel Heights Vineyard Pinot Gris
Eola-Amity-Hills, OR 2017 55 btl
A rich and textured pinot gris with nectarine, apricot and peach flavors set against a bright core of mouthwatering acidity
Brickhouse Vineyards Pinot Noir ‘Les Dijonnaise’
Ribbon Ridge, OR 2016 110 btl
Pepper, spice, cranberry, candied rose petal, red berry and cherry notes with sautéed herbs, underbrush and a stony minerality.
Chateau Ste. Michelle Cabernet Sauvignon
Cold Creek Vineyard Columbia Valley, WA 2013 60 btl
Inky black in color with chocolate, caramelized plum, vanilla bean, and currant-like aromas and flavors.
àMaurice Cellars ‘Night Owl’
Merlot/Cabernet Sauvignon & Franc/Petit Verdot
Walla Walla, WA 2013 85 btl
A complex bouquet of lavender, wild herbs, loamy earth and both red and black fruits with a dark, meaty, chocolaty, earthy core.
* Menus subject to change.
The summer fresh season is winding down for this year’s Fresh Fish Series, but we’re going out with a bang! Our friends in Alaska, Mike and Nelly Hand of Drifters Fish will be setting nets on the Copper River Delta searching for the last of this year’s salmon species to swim up the river, and be delivered to Ray’s this weekend!
Copper River Coho aka “silvers” may not receive the hype that its bigger brother King salmon gets, but it has made the long journey back to its spawning grounds, and although silvers are more lean than kings, they are fit and full of the same healthy protein and omega-3s.
Make your reservation for Saturday, September 9 and Sunday, September 10 in our first floor Boathouse, as our Coho will be air flown and delivered to Ray’s fresh on Saturday. Our veteran fish monger Thai Hong will be filleting Saturday afternoon for evening service and we have a gorgeous preparation in store for you:
Crispy Copper River Coho salmon with a rich, creamy corn sauce, roasted cauliflower dusted with fennel, arugula and pepitas.
For Boathouse reservations call 206. 789.3770 or click here.
See you this weekend!
– Steve Hauch, Executive Sous Chef
Our team had the exciting opportunity to visit the Copper River in Cordova, Alaska this May for the start of the Copper River salmon fishing season! Our GM Douglas Zellers, one of our owners and Ray’s Founding Partner Russ Wohlers, Executive Chef Paul Duncan and Executive Sous Chef Steve Hauch spent a week delving into the ins and outs of the fishing industry, talking with multi-generational Cordova fishermen and exploring the gorgeous local scenery.
A big thank you to Ocean Beauty Seafoods who were wonderful hosts to our team! They enjoyed a flyover of the Copper River and a tour of their processing facility.
Here are some highlights and insights from Alaska by our team, and a short video by our Executive Sous Chef Steve Hauch of the first Copper River catch!
Protect Your Environment: “You’re not just buying fish, you’re buying the life of a fisherman – Bill Webber Jr., Fisherman. ” Being immersed in a community that is 99.9% dependent on fishing is an eye opener. These fisherman are dependent on catching enough fish to pay their mortgage or buy clothes for their children. There was a real sense of anxiety as 500+ boats left the harbor, an air of anticipation as the reports trickled back in, and disappointment as they unloaded what was a very small catch even for an opener. However, the captains we spoke with were optimistic and in it for the long haul. They know the fish will hit, they just don’t know when. But the immediate impact of not catching fish is real.
Fresh and Safe Fish: Watching the entire process from an aerial flight over the fleet on the morning of the first opener, to watching the fish arrive via video at Rays in less than 18 hours was impressive. When we say we have fresh fish – we really have fresh fish. The Ocean Beauty supply chain was very well managed. The facilities and boats were all very clean and organized. The crews were all very friendly. It is a symbiotic relationship, we need each other to perform well. After all, what is Copper River Salmon without the story or the restaurant guests who are willing to pay for quality fresh fish.
Time Tested yet Looking Forward: Fishing in some fashion is as old as perhaps man himself. Some boats, captains, and crew certainly looked that part. However, without leaving that salty realm, other captains are deeply immersed in innovation. On one of his walks Russ made conversation with a gentleman named Bill Webber Sr. who was mending his nets in a parking lot. Low and behold he was the fisherman that worked with Jon Rowley back in the late 70’s and he caught and transported the Copper River Salmon to Rays for the ‘big show and tell’ in the early 80’s. As big as that state is, it still remains a close knit small community.
Bill Sr. Suggested we visit his sons boat “Paradigm Shift” and hear about the advances he is making in how the fish are cared for until they are delivered to your door. Bill Jr. gave us a short tour of his boat and explained some of the things that he is doing that should change the industry over time as people adopt them. Bill Jr. is an independent fisherman who sells his own catch via his website.
He told a tale that sounds like one you may read in a book: He is the son of a man who has lived and fished in Cordova for 60 years, he has been fishing since he could see over the rail, his wife does the books, he builds boats and fishing gear. But Bill Jr. is taking it forward. He has bar code tags for each fish he catches that links that fish through the supply chain and directly connects it to his on board inventory management spreadsheets. He has innovated an intravenous pressure bleeding system that removes all blood from the fish in about 20 seconds thus dramatically stalling the onset of deterioration, and he is working with transportation companies to get the product to the destination faster.
If you read his website you will notice phrases like lead by example, change the industry, and total quality. This is similar to the shift that Bruce Gore created in the late 70’s when he pioneered frozen at sea. Once we had that product we never looked at frozen fish the same again, and it eventually became standard. We can see the same thing happening with Bill Webber Jr.’s operation.