The White Boot Brigade Stomps into
New York City
A Series of
Dinners to Benefit the New Orleans Shrimp Industry
Tuesday, June 20, 2006
New York City
By Liz Warton
Harvesting wild shrimp in the Louisiana waters
remains a tradition and livelihood for the fishermen that
make up the White Boot Brigade. Adorned in white fishing boots,
these shrimpers have banded together to save their industry
from extinction. Hurricane Katrina destroyed their homes,
their fishing boats and their businesses. But with their spirit
firmly intact, they arrived in New York City with the hope
of rebuilding and creating a demand for their sweet gulf shrimp.
The White Boot Brigade is composed of three
families that have joined forces to rebuild the infrastructure
of the New Orleans shrimping industry. While the storm caused
significant damage to the fishing boats and processing facilities,
Ray Brandhurst, a veteran shrimper, described the day after
the storm as a scene from Forrest Gump with thousands
of gulf shrimp rising to the surface with all of the sunken
boats below. While they were blessed to have the product,
the task of transporting the shrimp outside of Louisiana proved
impossible. A year after the storm, the fishing industry has
slowly rebuilt their sunken boats, but they remain left with
limited power, refrigeration and resources.
Seventy percent of the shrimp consumed in
the U.S. is farm raised and imported from Southeast Asia.
The farm-raised imports waste money on transportation costs
in addition to destroying the ecosystem of mangroves. The
Louisiana shrimpers have been harvesting wild gulf shrimp
for decades, most of them inheriting the business from their
families. The brackish coastal waters of the south contribute
to the fresh and unique taste of these harvested brown shrimp.
No matter what the preparation, these tasty shellfish turn
a golden color and complement any seafood dish.
The Brigade teamed up with Marketumbrella,
a non-profit dedicated to promoting the ecology of local economies,
to create a series of White Boot Brigade dinners in New York
City. On June 20, chefs across the city will
be featuring the sweet wild domestic shrimp on their menus.
Bartering for their hotel rooms with fresh shrimp, the shrimpers
will be on hand delivering boxes of shrimp, fresh from the
shores of Louisiana. Participating restaurants include Daniel,
Tabla, Maremma, Café Boulud as well as
the Institute of Culinary Education. Both
organizations hope that New York will be the first city of
many across the U.S. to host White Boot Brigade dinners to
promote awareness of among chefs.
If you’re interested in hosting a White
Boot Brigade dinner, please contact Marketumbrella