Here's a phrase you might not have heard before: "traceable fish". It's a real thing, and a Hawaii woman is a key part of the process.
"With me being the sole handler of the fish and getting the fish directly from the fishermen, it allows me to provide traceability for the fish," Ashley Watts, owner of Local I'a said.
Watts runs Local I'a, a business created in 2014 for two reasons: to give fishermen fair prices for their product and lure customers to locally caught seafood.
"I can tell the customer who caught the fish, where, when they caught it, how they caught it, sustainability information about the species and tasting notes and different things about the fish as well," Watts said.
Watts works seven-days a week. She buys fish from the source, then drives it straight to restaurants for the sale.
"Our fish is like is like ultra ultra fresh," Robynne Maii, chef partner said.
Maii owns FET in Chinatown. Maii's restaurant used to buy fish from multiple vendors, that was until Local I'a showed up and FET found out there are different levels of the word "Fresh."
"The comparison was like couldn't make a comparison," Maii said.
Now, FET purchases as much of Watt's fish as possible. Maii says their customers prefer it.
"As much I like to think oh yeah we are cooking it awesome, I think it really has to do with how fresh the fish is," Maii said.
Back at Watts's kitchen, she can be seen prepping orders, some will go to local farmers markets. Others to community stores or pickup locations. They're packaged with QR codes, a quick scan gives consumers the history of what they're about to eat.
"I think it gives the community a way to know the story of their seafood, and feel comfortable with what they're eating and that it was safely handled and it came from a sustainable stock and handled in a proper manner," Watts said.
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