Leading chefs around the world are giving up cooking European eel

The oceans and their species are probably two of the most important resources on the planet, to which we owe nothing more and nothing less than the survival of humanity.

Massive industrial fishing, from generations past, unleashed a devastating reality in the seas that today’s citizens are trying to reverse. Although it is still not an easy task, little by little we have understood that the fight against global warming is a universal challenge, since adverse climatic effects do not understand borders. In this context, hundreds of chefs around the world give us a lesson in teamwork and have joined together to save the European eel, a valuable species for the sector, which is now in danger.

The so-called Eel anguillais an essential species in marine biodiversity, as it acts as predator and prey, as well as being key in migration studies due to its long journey from European rivers to the Sargasso Sea to reproduce. Economically, it has been valuable for fisheries and aquaculture, especially in Europe and Asia.where its meat is considered a delicacy. Culinary-wise, it is featured in traditional dishes in Europe and Japan. Currently, it is critically endangered due to overfishing, habitat loss, pollution and climate change.

Faced with this reality, the association of sustainable hotels, Relais & Châteauxand the aquatic species defense organization, Ethic Oceanhave launched an initiative to protect marine biodiversity by removing the European eel from the menus of their member restaurants. This decision, agreed at the end of 2023, materialized in the #anguilanogracias campaign spread for Oceans Day on June 8. In this way, the chefs of the firm’s 580 propertiesincluding luxury hotels and fine dining restaurants, have joined forces to rescue this species.

Mathieu Clausel, director of the Hotel Relais & Châteaux Le Place d’Armes in Luxembourg, says that this commitment to eel is a magnificent example of how good communication can be an excellent tool and a great power for change. Clausel, who runs three restaurants in his hotel, advocates empathy with species, not only with eels but with others such as bluefin tuna. He believes that the ideal is to diversify the culinary offer, as he does in his Luxembourg establishment.

Restaurant Le Plëss LuxembourgLePlëss

“As chefs, we must change our behavior to save this species, as well as all species classified in red,” says Mauro Colagreco, a chef at the restaurant. Mirazur in Menton (France).On the other hand, David Toutain of Relais & Châteaux Restaurant David Toutain (Paris, France) says that, at its beginnings in 2013, its menu had a star dish based on eel, which was replaced by smoked herring after the signing of this agreement.For Pedro Subijana, chef at Akelarre (San Sebastián, Spain) and elected member of the Comité International des Tables de Relais & Châteaux, despite the fact that many of the typically Spanish dishes contain eels, “responsibility must go hand in hand with tradition, therefore, we have to stop serving and eating eels in order to preserve them for future generations.”

Recycle and save species

Likewise, the recycling management association, Ecovidrio, has also launched initiatives such as “EcoVares”, together with five prominent national chefs.

Thus, the chefs: Jesus Sanchez from the Cenador de Amós, Xosé Cannas from Pepe Vieira, Martina Puigvert from Les Cols and Javier Sanz and Juan Sahuquillo from OBAwill work towards the common goal of promoting sustainable management and recycling of glass containers in the Spanish hospitality industry, which in turn will help preserve species such as marine species, which are in danger. For exampleJavier Sanz and Juan Sahuquillorecently awarded *Michelin star, one Green star and two Repsol suns, use a garden with an Arab irrigation system, which allows for efficient management of water resources, as well as various initiatives for the protection of local biodiversity focused on the recovery of endangered species such as river fish or native riverside plants, among others.