Tell Troy Graves We Eat Local Fish (The Fishcake Movement)

September 1, 2009 at 7:32 am

Last night I was fortunate enough to attend the premier of Sky Full of Bacon’s newest production, In the Land of the Whitefish (it should be on the SFoB site shortly).  In this video we watch MikeG meet the men who still fish Lake Michigan, and then we meet the men who still sell whitefish for a living.  To cement the cycle, we, of course, ate the whitefish.  We got fed by Paul Virant of Vie, who does not fear putting whitefish on his menu.  His tasting menu this week features pan-fried white fish with potatoes, kale, garlic and herb vinaigrette.  We also got fed by Troy Graves of Eve.  Graves, it seems, is a bit more hesitant to promote this local fish.  His hesitancy, I warned him last night, would set off a movement. 

I do not take my movements lightly.  For instance, by the time I decided to boycott Whole Foods, Michael Pollan was telling me to go buy some 365 tortilla chips.  Yet, when I tasted Graves’ local crabcake, ie., his whitefish cake, I knew it would be my mission to make this food more accessible.  Good food should be for all, not just those with press passes.  Believe me, we need this whitefish cake.  We need to walk into Eve and say to the bartender, “Sir, set me up with a plate of ‘cakes”, and those cakes need to be local cakes, whitefish cakes.  These cakes were everything you expect in a crabcake: rich, sweet, a pleasing texture.  With the added bonus of being local, with all of the advantages that beholds.  It’s just that Chef Graves shies from putting them on his menu.  Chef Graves is keeping you from his local deliciousness.

We cannot put up with this any more.  We cannot rely on special screenings to get our good food.  We need to overwhelm Graves and Eve with demands for whitefish cakes.  Get on Facebook.  Twitter @evechicago.  Write your Congressman.   Better, write someone with more power and influence.  Write Ellen Malloy.  Do something.  It’s crazy, crazy I say that this food is for sale.  Join the fishcake movement today.



  1. Ellen Malloy says:

    I was invited to this event last night but had a previous engagement with my sister…somehow, I am happy fate intervened.

    I know this is all about lovely Troy…but was joyfully distracted from the whole thing by the revelation that you are boycotting Whole Foods. As for Michael Pollan, he is just plain wrong.

    Sure, Whole Foods gets some things right but what they do wrong is leading to the explosive growth “faux organic.” And that is creating and supporting a new infrastructure of organic industrial agriculture that is doing more to harm the farmer than any CAFO could…because it takes customers who would buy their sustainably raised produce/meat and diverts their dollars to the big guys, albeit a new cabal of big guys.

    Now, I gotta go give Pollan a piece of my mind.

  2. art says:

    I’ll keep out of the politics. But I would vote for a whitefish cake over a crab cake in Chicago 9 times out of 10. Why? Because crab cakes in Chicago are most likely made with canned, pasteurized blue swimming crab meat from Indonesia. Most people like them but like you, I like the idea of eating something with a similar flavor that is made from something fresh and local.

  3. Tzippora Rhodes says:

    It’s funny – I deliver City Farm produce by bike to Eve and I think I’ve met Troy Graves through the loading dock. If I’m thinking of the right chef he’s great. Rob – i’m not sure how to contact you so i’m commenting here. I am still interested in writing something about Loaded Bikes for the Local Beet, but I’m not sure how to go about it. Thank you for taking interest. Take care,


  4. Jeff T. says:

    Thanks for the Whitefish cake recommendation. I will have to stop by and check it out.

    However, for someone that is all about being “local,” what were you doing in the first place supporting a business whose corporate offices are based out of Austin, Texas? Your agenda seems to be “all local, all the time,” right?

  5. Troy says:

    Thanks so much for supporting the whitefish cake, Rob. It was nice to be able to test a new recipe out at the shedd. I’m definitely on board with adding the cake to our menu. In fact, it’ll be on tomorrow night if I have my way. I do admit I was hesitant because of past attempts to get diners to enjoy local fishes. They just didn’t order it. But no sense giving up hope. Our diners are more educated and interested than ever before. Here’s hoping the fishcake movement gets the ball rolling…

    • Rebecca says:

      I had my wedding reception at Eve on August 23 and I am very proud to say that one of Eve’s menu offerings was… that’s right… smoked whitefish salad with heirloom tomatoes! My Michigander in-laws were thrilled and it was outrageously delicious. Go Troy and go whitefish!

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