Updated: Chef Ned Bell joins Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise

Here’s the full release:


VANCOUVER, B.C. – Eleven years ago, Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre sharpened its focus on protecting the world’s oceans by tackling its biggest issue: overfishing. Now nationwide, the Aquarium’s Ocean Wise® sustainable seafood conservation program stretches across restaurants, markets, retailers and suppliers and works with chefs, restauranteurs and business partners across myriad sectors to raise awareness about the need to protect the last 10 per cent of fish left in our waters.

As the program continues to expand, Vancouver Aquarium is proud to share that celebrated chef and sustainable seafood ambassador Ned Bell has joined the team as its Ocean Wise executive chef.

“We have long been partners with Chef Ned Bell in the fight against overfishing,” says John Nightingale, president and CEO of Vancouver Aquarium Marine Science Centre. “Having him officially join our team as executive chef will strengthen and expand our national Ocean Wise program and further elevate our culinary experience at the Vancouver Aquarium.”

With the support of the Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program, Bell created Chefs for Oceans in 2014 to raise awareness about sustainable seafood by riding his bike across Canada. Bell’s dedication to sustainable seafood has inspired many Canadian chefs to get involved in the cause – a movement that is having a meaningful impact on the way consumers think about the seafood they eat, where it comes from and how they, too, can help protect our oceans by making ocean-friendly seafood choices.

In addition to helping further expand the Ocean Wise conservation program across Canada, Bell will lead the culinary team at Vancouver Aquarium, one of the city’s most coveted venues for special events and conferences.

“As one of only three venues in Vancouver to hold more than 2,000 people for events, Vancouver Aquarium offers a memorable and engaging environment for special events and conferences,” adds Nightingale. “Chef Bell’s immense experience in culinary excellence, matched by his personal commitment to sustainability, will refine our culinary experience – from weddings and large events to a visit to the café, Vancouver Aquarium will be one of the best sustainable venues in the city.”

Recently honoured with the Global Seafood Award for Advocacy at the 2015 Seaweb Seafood Summit in Malta and the 2015 Green Award for Sustainability by Vancouver Magazine, Ned Bell’s diverse British Columbia upbringing instilled a passion for fresh and locally sourced cuisine. He has experience working in some of the country’s top kitchens and was, most recently, executive chef of Four Seasons Hotel Vancouver and YEW seafood + bar, a proud Ocean Wise partner. Bell’s diverse background includes seven seasons on Food Network Canada’s Cook Like a Chef and he has been recognized as Canada’s Chef of the Year at Food Service and Hospitality magazine’s 2014 Pinnacle Awards, Best Overall and Rising Star by Where magazine and Top 40 Foodies Under 40 by Western Living magazine in 2008.

Chef Bell joins the team at Vancouver Aquarium and its nationwide Ocean Wise sustainable seafood conservation program on July 4th.

Vancouver Aquarium Ocean Wise™
Overfishing is the single biggest threat our oceans face today. With more than 675 partners and thousands of partner locations across Canada, Vancouver Aquarium’s Ocean Wise program makes it easy for consumers to make sustainable seafood choices that ensure the health of our oceans for generations to come. The Ocean Wise symbol next to a seafood item is the Vancouver Aquarium’s assurance of an ocean-friendly seafood choice. www.oceanwise.ca.






Over the years, I like to think I’ve developed a sense of perspective. Or, more specifically, an ability to single out those who, truly, walk the talk…

The other night, Four Seasons Vancouver executive Chef Ned Bell capped off his remarkable Chefs for Oceans ride across Canada with a celebration in Yew Restaurant, highlighting some of the ingredients encountered along the way.

Oceans dinner Colville Bay oysters

More east coast treats: wonderfully briny but also slightly sweet Colville Bay oysters

It was an impressive roll-out, with some delicious, pan-Canadian tastes, from Colville Bay Oysters —paired very smartly with zesty, citrus toned Benjamin Bridge Brut (Nova Scotia)—to Saskatchewan lake trout, Okanagan land-raised Arctic Char, and more.


Common goals

But what also struck me is that Ned—who’s not short on accomplishments—is quick to share the spotlight with his peers.

Chef Bell says the best part of the trip was the spirit of camaraderie encountered with chefs from coast to coast.

“We chefs have pretty healthy egos,” he laughs.  “But it was more about how we engaged each other as a community. We’re lucky to be working with some of the best chefs in the country—in the world. I realised we were all having the same conversations in our communities, but not across the country.”

Surf 'n turf BC style, with Osoyoos Wagyu beef and Spot Prawns

Surf ‘n turf BC style, with Osoyoos Wagyu beef and Spot Prawns

Bell really is the driving force behind Chefs For Oceans, which is lobbying Ottawa hard to proclaim March 18th, annually, as National Sustainable Seafood Day. Given the current government’s environmental record in general, I’m not holding my breath. Its lack of serious commitment to safeguarding Canada’s spectacular lakes, rivers and ocean shores borders on abysmal. But let’s hope they prove me wrong.

Ned Bell’s one man odyssey to raise awareness truly was pretty remarkable. He covered the 8,766 kms. in just 10 weeks, including time for a series of dinners and special events along the way. He says the toughest section was between Revelstoke and Kamloops, when the end was in sight. I’ll guarantee, right now, he’s likely the fittest chef in the country—along with le Crocodile’s Michel Jacob, of course!


Oceans dinner cod with bacon and wild rice

Delicious cod with ‘bacon’ and wild rice. Look for Pickerell on the November menu …

Sustainable seafood for all

Ned’s cross-country ride was inspired by his genuine desire to raise awareness for sustainable seafood and supporting healthy waterways from coast to coast. Aside from pushing the buttons to get the go-ahead for  National Sustainable Seafood Day, Bell’s dream is to mobilise a movement that will see Canadians guaranteed easy access to sustainable seafood by 2025.

Bell is also quick to salute one of his early mentors, Vancouver chef Rob Clarke, who can be credited with almost single handedly kick-starting Ocean Wise, along with a handful of progressive, like-minded chefs. In the 1990s, they were among the first to see the writing on the wall in regards to oceans under threat.

(Read more about the rise of Ocean Wise, its pro-active chefs and their impact on our environmental consciousness in a story I wrote for Montecristo.)


Oceans menu: Diefenbaker Lake Steelhead trout with Haskap berries and Saskatchewan mustard seed. They'll be changing up the Canadian for a local craft brew on the November menu.

Diefenbaker Lake Steelhead trout with Haskap berries and Saskatchewan mustard seed. They’ll be changing up the Canadian for a local craft brew on the November menu.

Oceans of flavours

In the meantime, as you can see, there were some pretty delicious tastes at this Chefs for Oceans dinner, most of which are on offer (with suggested, Enomatic-poured wines by the glass) at Yew from Nov 1 to Dec 1.

‘Shore Lunch’
• Fried Pickerel + Wild Rice + Bacon + Apple Sauce  $31

Wine Pairing: – Stratus Semillon 2011, Niagara, Ontario

• Diefenbaker Lake Trout + Haskap Berries, Saskatchewan Mustard Seed + Pierogis  $35

Beer Pairing: (Molson Canadian shown is being swapped out for a Canadian Microbrewery, which is not a bad thing…)

Surf n’ Turf

• Osoyoos Ranch Wagyu Beef + BC Spot Prawns, Chilliwack Corn + Farm House Cheddar + Caramelized Pear Puree  $45

Wine Pairing: Nk’Mip Cellars Qwam Qwmt Syrah 2011, Osoyoos, BC