Illinois hunting and fishing

Louisiana Chef Phillippe Parola shows culinary students at the South Side Mission flavorful ways of preparing Asian Carp during a “Target Hunger Now!” program sponsored by the Illinois Department of Natural Resources. Parola said, “These fish are laughing at us. The jump out of the water at us. They cause damage. That needs to stop. Fish is food. We need to laugh at them.” Photos by Fred Zwicky.

Louisiana chef donates talents, Asian carp recipes

January 27, 2012 at 06:37 PM

PEORIA — To control the non-native Asian carp population in the Midwest, chef Philippe Parola has one simple solution. Eat them.

Parola, who hails from Baton Rouge, La., donated his skills and recipes to the “Target Hunger Now!” program Thursday at the South Side Mission on Laramie Street. The program introduced preparation methods for Asian carp, which can be a quality and abundant source of protein for those who need it.

“Professional chefs take natural resources, season them and work them into a great meal,” said Parola, noting that many foods are relatively bland until garnished with seasonings that enhance flavor. “This is what we train for.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

Although the Asian carp has gained a reputation for being a bony fish with minimal flavor, the South Side Mission welcomed Parola this week so he could change those misconceptions. Many local and national organizations teamed up to bring “Target Hunger Now!” to Peoria not only to assist those in need of nutritional sustenance, but also to protect the environment they live in.

“This is a win-win situation, because we utilize the Asian carp while feeding people that are hungry,” said Illinois Department of Natural Resources director Marc Miller.

Karen Cotton, the external affairs manager at Illinois American Water, said Parola teaching others to serve their community is one of the ways that we can “all come together to find solutions for the Asian carp problem.”

“We try to be good environmental stewards,” said Cotton, speaking of efforts to maintain the Illinois River’s ecosystem balance. “And with ‘Target Hunger Now’ we can take something some see as a nuisance and make it a resource.”

Illinois hunting and fishing

South Side Mission chef Chris Franzoni said he learned a lot of applications for Asian carp.

“This has been an exciting couple of days because we rely on donations,” said Franzoni, “So if we can use this fish as means to feed people, that would be great. We just need to educate people to have an open mind.”

Phil Newton, the executive director at South Side Mission, said he was excited that students of the Mission’s 13-week culinary arts training school could learn from Parola to propel their own careers while providing a wide variety of fare each day to the patrons of the Mission.

Karla Olson Teasley, president of Illinois American Water, said it’s productive to incorporate Asian carp “to support our most precious resources, residents and water sources.”

Eric Engel can be reached at 686-3194 or .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).