How Seattle Restaurateur Tom Douglas Is Making Sustainable Seafood More Affordable for Diners

Chef Tom Douglas is helping to evolve the sustainability movement in foodservice — at least in Seattle, where he owns more than 10 full-service restaurants.

His 13th, The Carlile Room, pays homage to the ’60s and ’70s. It’s hip, unique and, especially in a culinarily sustainable sense, much needed.

“Sustainability utilization is all part of the lexicon of today’s restaurants,” says Chef Tom.

The Carlile Room menu utilizes high-quality meats and Alaska Seafood to enhance its plant-based dishes.

“In Seattle, you don’t just say ‘I have salmon on the menu,’” he says. “You have to say what species of salmon, where it was caught, how it was caught, if it’s sustainable, and you have to have that conversation with every guest through your menu and through your intelligent waitstaff, and then the chef has to buy [the seafood] properly.”

King Crab at The Carlile Room | Foodable WebTV Network

King Crab at The Carlile Room | Foodable WebTV Network

The Carlile Room's menu features Alaska Seafood, which compliments its plant-forward dishes | Instagram @seanpaulcurran

The Carlile Room's menu features Alaska Seafood, which compliments its plant-forward dishes | Instagram @seanpaulcurran

Wok-seared King Crab atop a cucumber salad with black bean sauce | Foodable WebTV Network

Wok-seared King Crab atop a cucumber salad with black bean sauce | Foodable WebTV Network

Alaska Seafood at Seattle's Public Market | Foodable WebTV Network

Alaska Seafood at Seattle's Public Market | Foodable WebTV Network

In this episode of “Table 42,” brought to you by Alaska Seafood, host Paul Barron joins Chef Tom in the kitchen to explore some of the underused approaches to different types of Alaska seafood that him and his team are implementing at The Carlile Room. Halibut cheeks and wok-fried King Crab steal the show.

To make high-quality ingredients affordable on the menu, he doesn’t skimp on usage.

“As chefs, we really try to use every part of the fish because it’s really, at this point in the world, the only affordable way to use [it] — whether it’s a whole cow or a whole salmon,” says Chef Tom.

Not only is “nose-to-tail” more beneficial to cost, but also shows respect to our natural resources and to the fish, says the chef. “And it’s also an exciting way for the customer to actually dine with us — to try things they’ve never tried before.” For example, The Carlile Room’s King Crab dish, featured in the episode above, costs the diner only $25. To compare, King Crab at restaurants can sometimes go for $75 a pound.

Watch the full episode as we explore the best in seafood, and to learn how Chef Tom has evolved as a sustainable-focused chef over the years.