The Depot in Auburn Joins James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch Program

We all want the freshest possible seafood product we can get. That’s why sustainability has been a prominent topic in Alabama’s seafood industry for years.

Now, Gulf seafood lovers in Auburn have the opportunity to improve sustainability efforts around the world.

The Depot, headed by Executive Chef Scott Simpson, is the first Alabama restaurant to fully qualify for the James Beard Foundation’s Smart Catch program. As part of the pilot program, The Depot will receive menu consultations, staff training materials, access to an online Seafood Calculator, marketing resources, and guidance in working with their suppliers to make smarter seafood choices.

“When we heard about the Smart Catch Program, it was something we were already deeply committed to, so it was only natural we participate,” said Simpson. “My efforts here in Alabama are to preserve our environment for the next generations and to create more conscious diners.”

What does this mean for The Depot’s customers, exactly? It means a better, fresher, more localized seafood experience.

Smart Catch was designed for chefs to give diners easy and responsible options for ordering seafood dishes. The criteria of Smart Catch’s program is based on several factors including the health and abundance of fish and seafood stocks, the impacts of commercial fishing and harvesting on habitats and ecosystems, the degree of bycatch, and the effectiveness of fishery management systems.

“Through Smart Catch, we hope to build greater awareness around sustainable seafood both in the chef community and with restaurant diners,” said Jami Bailey, chef liaison for Smart Catch. “The Depot is leading the way [in Alabama] for greater sustainability of our seafood for the future.”

Sustainability has become a movement in recent years, and we’re excited to see The Depot carrying the flag for Alabama Gulf Seafood.

“Trying new, delicious, sustainable seafood dishes can be an exciting dining experience, and customers in our restaurant want to make sustainable choices,” said Simpson. “As a Smart Catch restaurant, we’re not only sharing our commitment to sustainable seafood with our guests, but elevating the conversation so we can continue to strengthen our oceans and the environment.”

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