FireFin Poké spreads Aloha and Sustainability
by Carly Schulman
Opening a little over a year ago, FireFin is taking the craze of the Hawaiian raw fish bowl, known as poké, to new sustainable levels. Led by Chef Rodelio Aglibot, the growing Chicago chain of restaurants aims to spread Aloha, and in doing so is raising the bar for food sourcing, waste handling, and reducing the use of plastic.
For Aglibot, Aloha is more than just hello and goodbye (though you will be greeted with an “Aloha” as you enter any of the restaurants) – it also means affection, compassion, peace, and mercy. Growing up in Hawaii, he was taught to respect the earth and ocean, and it is that mindset that drives FireFin’s use of sustainable and eco-friendly products and proteins.
During my meeting, I tucked into the citrus salmon bowl over purple rice, enjoying the interplay between the different flavors and textures. My food came in what seemed to be an average plastic take-away bowl, but I was soon informed that it – like all the other plastic containers for use by customers – is compostable. In fact, FireFin aims to do away with plastic waste, and all the ingredients that come packaged into the individual locations from their centralized prep are done without plastic.
FireFin is upfront and proud of their wild long-line caught fish. They have relationships with multiple small fisheries in Hawaii to sustainably source their tuna, both in regards to the ocean ecosystem and to local Hawaiian economics. They also source sustainably a little closer to Chicago, with greens coming from West-East Herb Gardens.
Aglibot runs FireFin with another chef, Frank Fronda. Unsurprisingly for a concept headed by two chefs, the training for their staff focuses closely on each and every ingredient, resulting in an intensive seven day staff training. Their sustainability mindset means that as a standard they aim to reduce food waste, taking actions such as utilizing the fruit from unsold fruit cups as a part of their aqua frescas. They are also transparent about their ingredients and nutritional value of their food to consumers.
FireFin mostly talks up their sustainable fish, but their eco-friendly efforts are far reaching into all aspects of their business. The result of all this care and attention to detail is delicious food in a pleasant atmosphere, with a side of sustainable initiatives.