Lionfish: From Predator to Plate

From Rhode Island to Venezuela, venomous lionfish are invading the Atlantic Ocean, wreaking havoc on native colonies of coral reef fish and disrupting local food chains. From high-tech robotics and deep-sea science to haute cuisine and oceanic sport, “Lionfish: From Predator to Plate” tells the story of the innovative solutions being developed to combat the spread of this invasive species. The film culminates with 11th Hour Racing’s #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown with viewers joining six America’s Cup sailing teams and six “top chefs” from around the world, as they gather in Bermuda for a cooking competition designed to transform lionfish into an enticing and sustainable seafood choice for menus worldwide. Filmed entirely in Bermuda, “Lionfish: From Predator to Plate” debuted at the Bermuda International Film Festival on March 24th. This engaging story shares how different communities have come together to tackle ocean restoration in an innovative, and delicious, new way!

Directed by: Rian DeVos

Lionfish Legacy Project

11th Hour Racing developed a project to raise awareness about the global issue of invasive species. With Bermuda hosting the 35th America’s Cup, the focused was on lionfish.

Why lionfish? They are wreaking havoc on reefs in Bermuda and throughout the Western Atlantic from Rhode Island to Venezuela. Lionfish devour the herbivore fish that are responsible for eating algae that hinder the growth of corals, and reefs eventually are smothered and die. Coral reefs are natural breakwaters, acting as buffers against waves from storms and hurricanes – a study estimated that reefs in Bermuda dissipate 75-85 percent of wave energy; this is particularly important since the island is almost entirely comprised of wind-blown sand dunes cemented into limestone rock, and is susceptible to erosion from wave action. Coral reefs also provide economic benefits, supporting the tourism industry as well as commercial and recreational fisheries; the Total Economic Value (TEV) for Bermuda’s reefs represents 10-17 percent of Bermuda’s GDP (source: Living Reefs Foundation).

Lionfish Invasion

Lionfish are native to the Indian and Pacific Oceans but believed to have been introduced into the Atlantic in 1985 by a pet owner discarding fish into the ocean. Since then, lionfish have relentlessly multiplied, invaded the western Atlantic, and now are found as far north as Rhode Island. Lionfish established themselves throughout most of the Caribbean in less than five years. According to the Bermuda Underwater Exploration Institute (BUEI), it is predicted that the invasion will keep spreading due to rising water temperatures.

Lionfish Invasion Facts

  • Lionfish are indiscriminate and voracious predators of commercially, recreationally, and ecologically important species.
  • Lionfish have no natural predators in the Atlantic but have 18 venomous spines that tend to keep potential predators away.
  • A single lionfish can spawn approximately 30,000 eggs every 4–5 days.
  • One lionfish can reduce the fish biomass on a reef by 80% in just one month.
  • Lionfish population density is 17 times higher in the Atlantic than in their natural habitat of the Indo-Pacific.
  • There is only one way to beat lionfish, and that is to eat them. Lionfish meat is flaky and delicious!



Six celebrity chefs committed to sustainability competed to see who had the tastiest solution to the problem of invasive lionfish at the #EatLionfish Chefs’ Throwdown, held at the National Museum of Bermuda on April 19, ahead of Earth Day. This event brought together all the teams competing in the America’s Cup – the competition for the oldest trophy in international sport – around an important environmental issue promoting Bermuda’s position as a leader in sustainable fishing practices. Each chef represented their nationality’s team, and the dishes were judged by the skippers of each team and Wendy Schmidt, Co-founder of 11th Hour Racing.

“Protecting the oceans is one of humanity’s most important challenges,” said Jeremy Pochman, President of 11th Hour Racing. “We need to recognize the vital connection that we all share with this resource that is now under extreme pressure. The ocean connects and sustains all of our continents; more than three billion people globally depend on the ocean for their daily living.”

After a great night of culinary excitement, the winning chef was announced as Land Rover BAR’s representative Chris Kenny, Necker Island’s Head Chef, who was awarded a prize of $10,000, to be donated to Unite BVI. Land Rover BAR, as the team represented by the winning chef, was also awarded a prize of $10,000, to be donated to 1851 Trust, the team’s Official Charity.

Culinary students from Bermuda College assisted the chefs during the Throwdown in an effort to inspire the next generation of top chefs to get involved with sustainable seafood and conservation, and maintain the lionfish-containment momentum following the completion of the America’s Cup.

The cooking contest highlighted a new way to cull the lionfish population, by using undersea unmanned robots. Robots in Service of the Environment (RSE) is developing small, cost-effective ROVs that can stun and capture lionfish on a wide scale, and at depths unavailable to sport divers, who traditionally hunt the spiny, venomous fish with spears. RSE is a nonprofit backed by some of the best minds in robotics and co-founded by Colin Angle, founder and CEO of iRobot and Erika Angle, founder and executive director of Science from Scientists. An early prototype of the robot was used to capture lionfish for the first time in a marine enclosure in Bermuda prior to the cooking competition.

Rick Moonen – Emcee

Chef and cookbook author, Rick Moonen, has been the country’s leading advocate for the sustainable seafood movement for the past 25 years, bringing national awareness to this subject near and dear to his heart. His flagship restaurant, Rick Moonen’s rm seafood at The Shoppes at Mandalay Place in Las Vegas, showcases his commitment to sustainability without foregoing culinary creativity and innovation and has been critically acclaimed by local and national press alike.


Rob Ruiz - Oracle Team USA

Event Executive Chef

Owner of The Land & Water Co. restaurant in Carlsbad, California.

An outspoken advocate for responsibly sourced, traceable seafood, Oceanside native Chef Rob Ruiz spent a decade honing his craft in Hawaii where he worked with James Beard award winner Chef Alan Wong before earning an apprenticeship under Japanese sushi master chef Etsuji Umezu. Since returning to San Diego and opening his signature restaurant, The Land and Water Company in 2014 –where his menu of hyper-local, ethically raised ingredients have put him firmly on the map– he has also focused on the culinary community’s role in saving the endangered vaquita porpoise and educating consumers.

Recently receiving global recognition for his dedication to improving fishing and seafood industry practices at The Ocean Awards 2016 held in London by the Blue Marine Foundation and Boat International. He is the Chef/Restaurateur Winner of 2016, who has made the most outstanding commitment to ocean conservation and ongoing mission to raise awareness and consumption of environmentally friendly seafood.

Bermudian Lionfish Chowder

  • Lionfish
  • Bermuda Potato
  • Heirloom Tomato
  • Bell peppers
  • Scotch bonnet peppers
  • Foraged nasturtium flower and pedals

Cold smoke and grill the Lionfish.

Roast the bermuda potato in the oven.

Con fit the heirloom tomato.

Finish the dish with Foraged nasturtium flower and petals and bell pepper and Scotch Bonnet marmalade.

Based of a Lionfish Fumé, this was a roux-less version of the Bermudian classic fish chowder, reduced with Gosling Rum, and finished with butter

Annabel Langbein - Emirates Team New Zealand

Star and co-producer of her own television series The Free Range Cook.

Annabel Langbein is New Zealand’s best-loved cookbook writer and publisher and the star and co-producer of her own international television series Annabel Langbein The Free Range Cook.

Her philosophy that cooking and sharing wholesome, sustainably produced food is the simplest means to a good life has resonated around the world, putting her at the forefront of a global movement towards garden-to-table eating.

She has a huge international following, with her TV series having screened in more than 90 countries, including on the Public Television network in the USA. In February 2016 she won the People’s Choice Award for Best Home Chef in a TV Series at the US-based Taste Awards.

Annabel has self-published 25 cookbooks and now heads one of New Zealand’s most successful publishing houses. Her books have been translated into numerous languages, won countless awards and sold more than two million copies around the world.

Wellington-born Annabel learned to cook from her home economist mother, then left home at 17 to live off the land, growing vegetables, cooking over an open fire and trapping possums (New Zealand’s most damaging animal pest) for a living.

She studied horticulture and traveled widely, attending courses at the Culinary Institute of America in New York and establishing her first business making croissants in South America.

She is a foundation member of the Sustainability Council of New Zealand, a contributor to New Zealand Forest & Bird’s Best Fish Guide and has been named the official ambassador for New Zealand bees.

Annabel’s Secret Sauce (served with ceviche and also works as a stand alone with the fish cakes)

  • fresh ginger
  • sushi seasoning (vinegar, salt, sugar)
  • lemon juice
  • mirin
  • rice vinegar
  • fish sauce
  • brown sugar or grated palm sugar
  • red chili
  • coriander/cilantro leaves

Annabel’s Lionfish Ceviche

  • fresh skinless lionfish fillets, deboned
  • fresh lime juice
  • fresh lemon juice
  • salt
  • Annabel’s secret sauce
  • red onion
  • spring onion
  • avocado
  • fresh pineapple
  • radishes
  • carrot
  • coriander/ cilantro
  • edible flowers eg radish or arugula flowers, sunflower petals torn into thin strips
  • unripe radish seed heads
  • crispy shallots

To serve:  small chinese cabbage leaves, lime or lemon cheeks

Annabel Langbein’s Thai-style Lionfish Cakes

  • lionfish
  • egg
  • lime
  • coriander/cilantro
  • kaffir lime leaf
  • Red Curry Paste
  • fish sauce
  • soft brown sugar
  • salt and ground black pepper
  • a little neutral oil to fry
Chris Kenny - Land Rover BAR


Head chef on Richard Branson’s Necker Island, British Virgin Islands.

Chris Kenny‘s passion for excellence started at Simply Heathcote, Wrightington, UK.  This lead him to apprentice for Raymond Blanc’s two Michelin Star Le Manoir Aux Quat Saisons, where he was mentored by some of the most renowned chefs in the UK.

Chris was nominated by Le Manoir’s Executive Chef-Gary Jones, to compete in BRA Young Chef Of The Year. In 2011; Chris earned this prestigious award along with Best Kitchen Craft.

After five years Chris left his Junior Sous Chef position to join the Two Hatted Urbane Restaurant in Brisbane, Australia. As Sous Chef he propelled The Urbane to new heights reaching No.1 restaurant in Queensland and No.11 in Australia.

After two years, Chris returned to Oxford, UK to take the position of Head Chef at Le Manoir.

Looking for his next challenge; in 2015 Chris seized his opportunity to become Head Chef for Sir Richard Branson at Necker Island in the British Virgin Islands.

Lionfish three ways: Lionfish Ceviche, Lionfish & Chips, LionFish Curry

*Winning Recipe

Lionfish Ceviche:


  • 5oz Finely Sliced Fresh Scallops
  • 1lb Finely Sliced Fresh Lionfish (filleted and skinned)
  • 1oz Finely chopped Shallots
  • ½ oz Finely Sliced Chives
  • 4 tbsp Extra Virgin Olive Oil
  • 4 tbsp Lime Juice
  • ½ oz Caviar
  • Pinch Salt per serve
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper per serve

Fennel Salad

  • 4oz Finely sliced Fennel
  • 12 small pieces Fennel tops – picked
  • 1 oz Fennel Seeds – triple blanched until soft
  • 1tbsp Lime Juice
  • 2 tbsp Olive oil
  • Pinch Salt- to taste
  • Pinch Cayenne Pepper- To Taste


First Place the Fennel seeds into a pan of cold water (triple the amount of water) and bring them up to the boil. Strain. Repeat this process 3-4 times until the seeds are soft.

For the Lionfish (fillet and Skinned) slice finely along the fillet – Check at this stage for any scales and pin bones in the fish – remove if found. Split the lion fish into 4 portions.

Follow the same process for the Scallops.

To make the salad First cut the tops off the fennel (keep these for garnish). Finely slice the fennel using a mandolin and place into a mixing bowl. Add the Olive oil, Lime, and blanched fennel seeds. Mix well. Season to taste with salt and cayenne pepper.

To serve

Layer ½ of the Lion fish portion flat along the base of the Scallop Shell (or plate), do the same with 1 portion of scallop, Then put the 2nd ½ of the portion next to the scallop so it is Lionfish, Scallop, Lionfish.

Lightly season with salt and pepper. Next place thin lines of the chopped shallot and chives along the Lionfish and Scallop. Evenly spoon on the lime juice and olive oil – please note this should be done last minute as the lime will begin curing the fish immediately. Place a small ball of the fennel salad in the middle of the layered fish. Top the salad with some picked fennel tops. Finish the dish with 3 small spoons of Caviar.

Fish & Chips

  • 1lb Lionfish –Filleted and skinned

Beer Batter

  • 1 Bottle Guinness
  • 1 Bottle Heineken
  • 12FLoz Milk
  • 1LB Flour


  • 2lb Potatoes

Minted Mushy Peas

  • 1LB Peas
  • 5oz Butter
  • 1oz Mint
  • 2 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • Salt
  • Black Pepper

Tartar Sauce

  • 3oz Capers
  • 3oz Gherkins
  • 1oz Shallots
  • 1 tbsp Lemon Juice
  • 1oz Parsley
  • 5oz Mayonnaise


For the triple blanched chips – Blanched first in water, Drained, Confit in oil then scraped with a fork to ruffle the edges. Finally fried at 190 Deg Celsius until golden.

For The Beer Batter- 1 bottle of Guinness, 1 Bottle of Heineken, 12 FL oz Milk approximately 1lb flour- Mix the beer and Guinness with ½ of the flour until you get a thick paste. Slowly add the milk whisking slowly until smooth- the consistency should be thick similar to the “ribbon” stage when baking. You may need to add more flour of milk to correct the consistency.

For the Mushy Peas- Defrost peas and place in a food processer. Blend until you have a rough chopped pea texture. Add Melted Butter, Chopped Mint and Lemon Juice. Salt and black pepper to taste.

For the tartar sauce

Chop capers, parsley, gherkins and shallots to a fine dice. Fold through Mayonnaise. Add Lemon Juice to finish.

For The Curry:

Curry Base

  • 3 sticks Lemon Grass
  • 2oz Ginger- Fresh
  • 5 cloves Garlic
  • 1x Chili
  • 10oz Coconut Oil
  • 6x Kafia Lime Leafs
  • 2x tins coconut milk
  • ½ tsp Clove powder
  • ½ tsp nutmeg powder
  • ½ tsp chopped fresh thyme
  • 1 tsp Tumeric
  • 1 tsp Curry powder
  • ½ tsp ground cardamom
  • 1x vanilla pod – scraped
  • 1 oz coriander stalks
  • 4x Large white onions
  • 3x Lemon Juiced
  • 2lb diced lionfish- Skinned & Filleted


Blend Spices, Lemongrass, Garlic, Chili, Corriander, Lime Leaf, Ginger & Coconut oil until smooth in a blender. Cook on a low heat for 5 minutes. Add Coconut milk and sweated white onions. Cook out for 1hr. Add Lionfish and lemon juice and remove from the heat. Let it sit for around 30 minutes then reheat before you serve with garnish listed below.

Curry Garnish:

  • ¼ Cherry Tomatoes
  • Onion Seeds (nigella seeds)
  • Puffed Rice Noodles – Simply deep fried until they puff up
  • Fried Poppadum’s – rubbed with curry paste before frying
  • Finely sliced Chilli and spring onion – iced before service so they go curly
  • Chili & Lime Yoghurt Gastric – Make a light caramel, De-glaze with lime juice, Fold through Greek yoghurt.
  • Fresh Coriander Leaves
Christofer Ekman - Artemis Racing

Executive chef at restaurant Fotografiska in Stockholm, Sweden.

Christofer Ekman, 37 years old, living in Stockholm. Has throughout his career worked at restaurants in Stockholm and New York, and today he is the creative leader for Fotografiskas restaurant. The menus are based on vegetables, with regards to season and local produce. Zero waste is the major factor in all his work.

Competing in several cooking competitions has been on his resume for a long time, often with high placements.

Whole baked white cabbage

  • 1 head of white cabbage
  • 2 shallots
  • 1 green chili
  • 100 grams of coriander leaves
  • salt
  • black pepper
  • rapeseed oil
  • edible flowers

Put the cabbage, the whole head as is, in an oven at 360°F and bake it until the core temp is 200°F. Take it out of the oven and let it cool. Peel of all the burnt leaves until you reach the core, slice into 1-1.5 cm thick slices and set aside.

Peel and chop the onions and chili and sauté in rapeseed oil and season with salt and pepper. Add thinly chopped coriander and let cool.

Put a thin layer of onions on top of the cabbage and top with the browned butter hollandaise and edible flowers and coriander leafs.

Brown butter hollandaise

  • 350 grams of browned butter
  • 2 egg yolks
  • 1 whole egg
  • salt
  • lemon juice

Put the browned butter in a pan and heat it up to 158°F. Put the egg yolks and whole egg in a blender and season with salt and lemon juice and mix at full speed. Add the hot butter into the egg mixture in a slow stream so that it binds. Taste and add more salt or lemon juice if needed, put into a siphon and charge with 2 cream chargers. 

Cured lionfish

  • 4 pieces of lionfish, 100-120 grams each
  • 1 liter of water
  • 100 grams salt
  • 20 grams of sugar
  • 1 lemon
  • 1 tablespoon of mixed coriander seeds
  • 150 grams of browned butter

Cold stir water, salt, sugar, coriander seeds and lemon zest until the salt and sugar has dissolved. Cure the fish for 4 minutes and rinse in cold water and let dry. Blacken the fish with a hand held blow torch and put into a deep dish and add the butter. Bake the fish at 200°F until the fish has a core temp of 122°F.

Green oil

  • 100 grams of spinach
  • 100 grams of coriander stalks
  • 3 deciliters of rapeseed oil

Mix everything in a blender until the oil reaches 158°F and strain through a coffee filter. Plate the cabbage, add hollandaise on top and garnish with edible flowers. Use the green oil as a garnish. Put the fish beside the cabbage on the plate or serve it as a side.


Gael Orieux - Groupama Team France

Chef of Parisian restaurant Auguste, which boasts a Michelin star.

Born in Maine-et-Loire but Breton in his soul, Gael Orieux practices a cuisine stamped “marine”. His Breton origins allowed him to rub shoulders with the ocean and then the seabed. Even today, he likes to return to Finistère to recharge his batteries. From this love for the ocean his first passion was born, diving. He could have made it his profession after having passed his certification at 18. But strangely, it is not the big blue that caught him but the kitchen. And when in 2005 he settled on his career, it was quite natural that his menu would mix the treasures of the seas and the bountiful products of the earth.

Gaël Orieux came into the culinary world late, by luck. One day walking into a cooking school everything fell into place, taking him on a remarkable journey from Toit de Passy to Alléno’s Meurice, through Paul BocuseLucas-CartonTaillevent et le George V. Through his apprenticeship with Yann Jacquot at Toit de Passy, Gaël worked across the entire culinary spectrum, from classic to modern techniques. Finally, at the age of 32, Chef Orieux has launched his own line from his success with Yannick Alleno, situated in the quartier des Ministères, hanging his sign: Auguste, an homage to Escoffier.

Gaël Orieux loves and defends our planet. Very early on, he knew that a restaurateur had a role with the consumer. It is up to him to pass on ecological messages to his clients. This is what he does on a daily basis by using natural flavors or by trying to make his guests aware of “eco-responsible” consumption. For Gaël, neither the sea nor the land is a self-service market. According to him, we must consider our culinary heritage as a gathering. An ecological approach to change the mentalities, to evolve the habits of consumption by proposing products to guests that are unknown or neglected. Gaël focuses his cuisine on the less known, less “sexy”, fishes – highlighting species such as: the eelpoutJack mackerel, and the corvina. He does not overlook the “dit noble” species: the sea bass, John Dory, or sole; including them on his menus only when they are in season and sustainably fished. Gaël’s passion and commitment to healthy fisheries, mirrors his approach to cooking overall: constantly looking to improve his practice while respecting and preserving, and enjoying, the sea. 

Taichi Kitamura - SoftBank Team Japan

Award-winning chef and owner of Seattle’s Sushi Kappa Tamura.

Originally from Kyoto, Japan, Taichi Kitamura has touched palates from all over the world with his culinary creativity and authentic Japanese style. His focus on local ingredients and sustainable, underutilized seafood has earned him respect from fellow chefs, the seafood industry, and his guests.

As an exchange student from Japan, Taichi laid down roots in Seattle, getting his culinary start at the acclaimed Seattle restaurant, Shiro’s. He opened his first restaurant, Chiso, in 2001, before opening the doors of Sushi Kappa Tamura in 2010. A James Beard Award semifinalist, Kitamura has drawn many awards and accolades to Sushi Kappo Tamura, including being named as “The Best 10 New Japanese Restaurants in America” by Bon Appetit, and one of the “Best Sushi Restaurants” by Travel + Leisure. Taichi also appeared on the Food Network’s Beat Bobby Flayin 2015, where he was honored to win against Chef Bobby Flay, a chef that he had watched for years in Japan.

Taichi’s culinary inspirations started by working his family café in Kyoto, watching Japanese cooking shows, and under the mentorship of Master Sushi Chef Shiro Kashiba, owner of Shiro’s. He hand selects only the best sustainable seafood and local, seasonal ingredients from the Pacific Northwest and his rooftop garden to use in the restaurant’s authentic Japanese preparation. His sourcing is dictated by what he can do for the next generations, while educating his local community and dining public in the process.

His passion and ingenuity for the culinary world stems from the idea that food makes people happy and works uniquely to connect people, in ways that can only be done while at the dinner table . . . or the sushi bar.

Lionfish Sashimi Bermuda Style

  • 3 ounce lionfish fillet, thinly sliced crosswise on the diagonal
  • Ginger, peeled and finely julienned, to taste
  • Scallion, finely julienned, to taste
  • 2 teaspoon soy sauce
  • 2 teaspoon sake
  • 1 tablespoon peanut oil

In a small skillet over medium heat, cook soy sauce and sake and reduce to half. Remove from heat and cool.

Arrange fish on a plate. Sprinkle ginger and scallion over fish. Drizzle with the sauce.

Heat the peanut oil in a small saucepan until it begins to smoke. Pour over fish.  Serve immediately.


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