Want to create an itinerary from this post?
Seafood is prized cuisine in Massachusetts any time of year, but shines even brighter during the warm weather months. Inspired by our love of the ocean’s delights, we reached out to some bright stars in the Bay State’s culinary scene for a special seafood interview series. In this Q&A, we dive deep into inspiration, passion, and the significance of seafood with the Beach Plum Inn and Restaurant’s Executive Chef, John Thurgood.
Why did you decide to work at The Beach Plum Inn & Restaurant?
It was a perfect fit. I have always been passionate about locally sourced food. Fortunately, Martha’s Vineyard has so much to offer both from the sea and land. As lots of business here are trying to get some items from local farms, it would be hard to find a meal entirely originating from the island. Beach Plum Inn is definitely an iconic place so leading the team is great, but the fact that the owners were open to the possibility of doing a series of popup dinners featuring all island products was the best part for me. We are having these events during July and August. Complete schedule and menus are available at beachpluminn.com.
What is your favorite part about being a Martha’s Vineyard-based chef?
The fisherman and farmers on the island are my inspiration. The quality of these people’s produce, their dedication and the knowledge they possess is amazing. Just stop by the Menemsha Fishmarket and hear what Stanley Larsen has to say, you’ll know what I mean. These people carry the spirit of generations of those who lived on this island for many years.
How does being in Massachusetts, where seafood is a core foundation of the cuisine, influence your menu?
The beautiful thing about Massachusetts seafood is the variety and the quality. The seasonal migrations and the opening and closing of quotas enables me to be constantly inspired and change my menus according to the season. I know it is spring when only available local fish are flat fish, and summer when sea bass season opens, and I know it is fall when tog season reopens. It is a great way to tell time.
People recently seem more passionate about locally sourcing food. How does this trend influence your kitchen and seasonal dishes?
It is an amazing thing that people are increasingly searching for and often demanding fresh, local, sustainable food. This demand has allowed local farmers to increase production of produce, and the variety of it. Because of this, I essentially create dishes driven by these delightful products.
Why do you think seafood is such a movement in Massachusetts, and how do you think this theme will continue its innovation on menus?
I believe that people are coming to realize that Massachusetts seafood is incredibly healthy, delicious, and mostly sustainable. I have found that many diners are more willing to eat previously unpopular varieties of fish. I have been serving whole scup, Arcadian redfish, and other smaller fish to people with very positive results.
What is next for your restaurant? Or in other words, do you have any future goals for your menu and/or are their trends you’d like to set?
The trend is definitely TO EAT LOCAL. I think this is the best thing people can do for themselves and the planet. If you look deeper into this question you’ll learn what a difference it can make. My current focus is to find more ways of utilizing invasive species such as green crabs, periwinkles and Asian crabs. These could be a great source of a local flavor and at the same time beneficial to the local eco system, fishing community, and economy.