The Dock to Dish Story

Dock to Dish® was founded in 2012 as the original Community-Supported Fishery of New York, by longtime fishing friends Sean Barrett and Rudi Bonicelli, in partnership with the Concerned Citizens of Montauk Association. This new membership-based “CSA for fish” concept—in which individuals and families became members of the fishery and purchased “shares” of local seafood in advance—was designed to reconnect the local community with Montauk fishermen. From the outset, Barrett and Bonicelli were determined to revive a long-lost “Know Your Fisherman™” culture, and build a bridge to restore the relationship between seafood producers and consumers. Their vision was to eliminate the chain of custody for seafood, as well as the middlemen who often intentionally mislabel fish, while bringing verifiable traceability to members of Dock to Dish® with a level of freshness, quality-control, and food safety that were unprecedented. Originally, the program had four contributing fishermen, and was available only to residents of Montauk and the nearby towns of Amagansett and Sag Harbor. In the beginning, Dock to Dish® fresh seafood shares were provided to its members during the summer, through traditional local CSA operations at Quail Hill Farm and Amber Waves Farm.  By the end of the inaugural season, however, the Dock to Dish® concept had started to expand to local restaurants.

Dock to Dish® broke new ground when it arrived at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in Pocantico Hills, New York, where Chef Dan Barber helped its founders to launch the first formal Restaurant-Supported Fishery program in the world. From the original crew of four contributing fishermen, the cooperative swelled to a constellation of nearly three dozen, all of whom now steadily supply Dock to Dish® with fresh, sustainable seafood all year long.

These first Dock to Dish® programs were widely hailed for being game-changers and viable alternative market systems for the safe, efficient, and sustainable distribution of local, low-carbon, and community-sourced fresh seafood to increasing sectors of the population. Over the following years, the Dock to Dish® Montauk program would increase in scale to include dozens of restaurants, as well as culinary institutions, like Eataly and the sprawling headquarters of the Google Corporation in New York City. The Dock to Dish® founders traveled around the world, starting Community- and Restaurant-Supported Fishery programs in harbor towns throughout North and Central America; and helped the concept expand overseas to fishing communities as far away as Fiji, and South Africa.

“The safest and freshest local seafood guaranteed”

In 2019, the Dock to Dish® Montauk team was joined by Elise Gilchrist, a dedicated advocate for small-scale fishing communities and sustainable seafood systems, and a vocal climate activist. Elise had just earned her Masters of Environmental Management degree from the Yale School of Forestry and Environmental Studies, after spending years working with environmental non-profits all over the world to strengthen coastal communities and protect threatened ecosystems. Now the Dock to Dish® Director of Communications, Elise is also a member of the Local Catch Network Executive Committee, an independent non-profit which supports the growth and development of small-scale fishing communities.

As the COVID-19 pandemic reframed the conversation regarding food safety, sustainability, and how we eat in 2020, Dock to Dish® recognized an urgent need to open larger access points for routing the safest and freshest seafood from the Montauk fleet to the greater New York community.

The Dock to Dish® team and fishermen quickly convened to create a new post-pandemic distribution system that would deliver daily landings from the fleet directly to members’ homes with strict ‘no-contact’ protocols in place.

From there, in the dark night of a global catastrophe, a bright light began to shine, like a beacon from a lighthouse, and our new Dock to Dish® 3.0 initiative was born. You can help us to write the next chapter of the Dock to Dish® legacy by signing up for a membership now, and by committing to a better, brighter and more secure food future. Simply activate your membership to begin receiving the safest and freshest seafood available in New York State, delivered directly to you, right from the source.