GLIDE celebrates its thriving partnership with local eco-friendly fishing company, Pioneer Seafoods
If you’ve walked by the corner of Ellis and Taylor on any given weekday over the last few months, there is a chance you have seen a “fishy” operation taking place. Giuseppe and Joleen of Pioneer Seafoods have been hauling a truckload of fresh, local, sustainably caught fish to our kitchen on a biweekly basis, leading to the founding of a new institution at GLIDE: Fresh Fish Friday!
We recently headed to the prep room in GLIDE’s kitchen, where staff and volunteers were preparing the Pioneer’s latest catch, to chat with Giuseppe about his relationship with GLIDE. At one point our conversation was briefly interrupted by Chef Jonathan, who brought us a heaping plate of fish, lightly fried in his famous cornbread batter (a secret recipe). We suddenly became the most popular people downstairs as many members of the GLIDE kitchen staff stopped by for a quick pre-lunch shift snack!
Docked on Pier 47 next to Scoma’s Restaurant, Giuseppe’s boat, the Pioneer, is specially equipped for sustainable, eco-friendly fishing practices.
“Our nets are really sophisticated. They’re not like anybody’s nets on the planet! My nets separate the species of fish; it doesn’t do all of them but it’ll do about 60% of them. They go into different chambers in the back of the net, where the juvenile fish are able to escape really easily. . . . The markets want fish that are two-and-a-half pounds and up. So if we get 10,000 pounds of large fish we probably went through 40 or 50,000 pounds of fish total. That part is the amazing thing that we do on the boat, since our nets are so attuned to all these different species and sizes.”
“It’s hard to believe that answering a call from third generation local fisherman Giuseppe Pennisi would lead to GLIDE’s Fresh Fish Friday. . . It is now one of our most well-received meals, on par with GLIDE’s World Famous Fried Chicken” — George
Joselyn, GLIDE’s Culinary Manager, describes some of the beauty of GLIDE’s collaboration with Pioneer Seafoods.
“The fish is caught a day before it is delivered to us, then fileted immediately after by a group of senior volunteers. As a food service establishment, we try to reduce our carbon footprint as much as possible and collaborating with local purveyors accomplishes this goal.”
Ocean fishing is very difficult and tiring work. Giuseppe and his crew generally don’t get any sleep after they leave the dock, and given that the best fishing grounds are seven or eight hours out into the Pacific, most of his trips take about 30 hours total. When they return to the dock, they still have more work to do before they can rest: They have to get all the fish off the boat by 2:00 am so they can start selling them as soon as possible. Despite their wearied state, Giuseppe says they always put fish aside for GLIDE.
“It’s important to me. I think what you guys do here is amazing,” explains Giuseppe. “The little tiny bit that we do, in some ways it’s insignificant to me, because when I see those lines of people out there, many of whom might have slept in a bag for who knows how long—it’s just a little thing that we can do to help them. My parents were always really good about trying to help out and donate. That just seems like part of what I am, too.”
George, Director of GLIDE’s Daily Free Meals Program, remembers how amazed and excited he was when he first heard from Pioneer and what they wanted to do for the GLIDE community.
“It’s hard to believe that answering a call from third generation local fisherman Giuseppe Pennisi would lead to GLIDE’s Fresh Fish Friday. . . It is now one of our most well-received meals, on par with GLIDE’s World Famous Fried Chicken. We could not be more pleased to serve our guests such a wonderful and delicious meal.”
“The fish that GLIDE’s guests are getting to eat is absolutely, positively the best fish in San Francisco” — Giuseppe
GLIDE’s mission, which emphasizes community and compassion as much as the alleviation of suffering, means that our Daily Free Meals program seeks to do more than deliver calories to people suffering from food insecurity. Those meals should be healthy, tasty ones that our guests can enjoy together. With their deep respect for people (and the environment) Giuseppe and the Pioneer family are helping GLIDE demonstrate what food justice can look like.
“The fish that GLIDE’s guests are getting to eat is absolutely, positively the best fish in San Francisco,” says Giuseppe with understandable pride. “Only about 3% of the fish eaten in this country comes from the United States. If you were to see the type of fish that comes into the city on all these trucks, most of it is frozen in big blocks of ice. They’ve been out of the ocean for weeks.”