Lionfish Being Served at Sandals Grande

Image: Chef Henrique prepares Lionfish

A Tasty Dish That Helps Preserve Our Marine Life.

HOW would you like to eat a tasty dinner and save the environment at the same time?

At Sandals Grande St. Lucian Spa and Beach Resort there is one delicacy on the menu that allows you to do just that! You won’t find it at your run-of-the-mill restaurant, but if you are a Sandals guest in Saint Lucia, then Lionfish is most certainly on the menu!

Image: Chef Henrique prepares Lionfish
Chef Henrique prepares Lionfish

The predatory species was first introduced to the region in 2010, but since then the Lionfish invasion has become one of the top 15 threats to global biodiversity. There appears to be one active solution – we have to eat them to beat them.

Sandals Grande has become one of the leading establishments to not only respond to this clarion call, but to treat guests to what has been described as one of the healthiest and tastiest fish meals around. The mouth-watering aroma of grilled lionfish fills the air around the Jerk Shack at Sandals Grande and enthusiastic guests can be seen digging into their meals.

One guest revealed that she had no idea lionfish could be so delicious. “The lionfish is surprisingly tender on the palate,” she said. “Having heard about it recently, I was anxious to sample it here and I’m so happy I did! I intend to experiment when I get home if I can find it at the supermarket.”

“Being able to serve such a unique and delicious meal to our guests while contributing positively to marine preservation is really a win-win”, said Ricky Duquesnay, group manager of food and beverage. He added, “This is something we hope to continue for a long time. We’re working with a local supplier here in Saint Lucia, who will deliver lionfish consistently on a weekly basis. We will consume an estimated 11,000 to 14,000 pounds of lionfish a year.”

The Sandals Food and Beverage Department has ensured that all team members are adequately trained in the proper handling and preparation of the lionfish, which although having poisonous spikes, is not harmful once properly prepared.

Deputy Chairman and Chief Executive Officer of Sandals Resorts International, Adam Stewart, said the company is very excited about the initiative. “Our company has long been a guardian of the marine environment and we’ve always been more than willing to play our part in environmental preservation. I am happy that the team has embraced and mastered this challenge and that our guests are loving the grilled lionfish. I’m hoping this will encourage other organisations to realise that we can truly beat them if we eat them!”

Lionfish destroy much of the fish and shellfish in the waters of the eastern seaboard every year, damaging fragile eco-systems and reducing catches for fishermen. Since lionfish are not native to Atlantic waters, they have very few predators. Humans are perhaps the only animal that lionfish should be fearful of, and the only species potentially capable of controlling lionfish populations. Scientists, managers, fishermen, and locals from Venezuela to North Carolina are rallying behind “Eat Lionfish” campaigns. Lionfish tournaments have become annual events in some of the most heavily hit areas of the Caribbean and Atlantic.

Since its introduction on the menu at Sandals Grande, guest feedback has been very positive and Sandals intends to expand this offering across the region. Chefs across the entire chain are currently undergoing intense Lionfish preparation as the company prepares to roll out the campaign at all properties.

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