Catch and Cook Program allows charter fishing clients to take haul to Michigan restaurants
What if the catch of the day was yours?
The Catch and Cook Program allows charter fishing clients to take their catches to restaurants to be prepared and served. The program, announced in May, was established by the Michigan Department of Agriculture and Rural Development, state Department of Natural Resources, Michigan Charter Boat Association, Michigan Sea Grant, Michigan State University Department of Fisheries and Wildlife, and Michigan Restaurant Association.
"I think it's a great thing," said Ron Cutler, owner of Model T Charters in Lexington. "I think eventually, I'll be doing it here in Lexington."
The program was created to "encourage creative, yet safe, marketing of Michigan fish through a partnership with the charter fish industry and local restaurants," according to the program's website.
Cutler said he had been taking his catches to a restaurant in Grindstone City for years.
"A majority of people, especially vacationers, it's hard to haul fish and it's much easier to have someone professional prepare it and it'll taste great," he said.
Restaurant owners and managers can see the benefit of the program.
"People are always looking for fresher products," said Terry Braun, manager at the Riviera Restaurant and Cocktail in Marine City. "And why not help build tourism?"
Braun said she plans to look into the program more.
"I think it would be kind of cool," she said.
Rebecca Barone, owner of Club Capri in St. Clair County's Clay Township, said the program fits in perfectly with the Blue Water area.
"We have a lot of local people who fish this area, and I think it's something that would be very welcomed," she said.
Jim Chisholm of Port Huron said he could see some people taking advantage of the program, but he likely wouldn't because he would rather save his fish for a big cookout.
"It would be a good program, but it depends on how expensive it would be," he said. "Most fishermen are frugal."
The cost of the fish preparation is up to each restaurant's discretion.
The program lays out responsibilities for all involved parties on its website and even offers a waiver and assumption of risk agreement restaurant officials can print out for clients to sign.
By signing it, the client agrees to consume the catch and assume any risks with respect to foodborne illnesses that can't be eliminated regardless of the care taken to avoid them. The client also agrees to not sue the restaurant or its employees because of illness or injury.
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Responsibilities of the charter captain include ensuring the boat is equipped with an adequate supply of ice, ensuring food safety standards are adhered to by adequate cleaning, gutting and scaling of the fish before delivery to the restaurant and ensuring the rapid chilling of the fish to at least 41 degrees.
Restaurants' responsibilities include complying with applicable laws and regulations and having sufficient facilities to properly process, maintain custody and serve the cooked fish. Any fish that isn't consumed by the participant must be returned to the participant or discarded.
Information from: Times Herald, http://www.thetimesherald.com
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