Our Origin Story
Over a decade before a global pandemic turned the attention of modern-day cultures back towards the integrity of supply chains, a small, grassroots organization, headquartered in Montauk, New York, embarked on a mission to revive traditional and sustainable practices of seafood sourcing to their local community. Dock to Dish® was founded in 2012 as the original Community-Supported Fishery of New York, by community fishermen and local food activists 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, the founders 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.
The Dock to Dish® Difference
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. But by the end of the inaugural season, the Dock to Dish® concept had expanded to local restaurants such as Nick & Toni’s in East Hampton, and Bell & Anchor in Sag Harbor. Dock to Dish® then broke new ground when it arrived at Blue Hill at Stone Barns, in Pocantico Hills, New York, where Chef Dan Barber helped its founders 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 steadily supplied Dock to Dish® members 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 have since traveled around the world, starting Community- and Restaurant-Supported Fishery programs in harbor towns throughout North and Central America and have helped the concept expand overseas to fishing communities as far away as Fiji, and South Africa.
The high demand for five species of fish has lead to dire consequences for local fishermen, communities, and public health. An idea was born in the Dock to Dish® model: to seek origin in shopping for seafood, to purchase locally, to encourage participation of chefs in a “catch-of-the-day” program, and, ultimately, to impact behavioral habits that can improve the seafood supply chain. That vision persists today.