When Julien Shapiro created the opening menu for Eat the Rich, he consulted the National Oceanic and Atmospheric Administration (NOAA) to get some idea of which fish he should use and which to avoid.
The NOAA scientists could not tell him what to do, of course, but they could provide him with data and help him interpret it.
“If you look at the fishing reports, it says the numbers are such, and then you make a conclusion based on what you think is good,” Shapiro told me. “They will say whether it is overfished or underfished or if there is no data.”
To round out his view of the fish available in the mid-Atlantic, Shapiro makes an effort to visit each mid-Atlantic state and check with its Department of Natural Resources to discover local numbers on fish and confirm what is available.
These habits serve Shapiro and Eat the Rich well, as the chef and owners focus on local, sustainable seafood, derived heavily from the Chesapeake Bay.
“We are trying to focus exclusively on Chesapeake seafood. That’s our calling card,” Shapiro said.
Cocktail mogul Derek Brown and oysterman Travis Coxton opened Eat the Rich last year, naming it after a Motorhead song. Coxton is also behind Rappahannock River Oysters, which has expanded locally into Union Market in 2012. Eat the Rich serves those same oysters. Coxton is concerned about being a good steward of the local oyster population, Shapiro said, and the chef applies the same outlook to the rest of the seafood served at Eat the Rich.