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Onkst's restaurant clients generally get fish whole; not to worry, CSF customers get fillets. Photo via Wild West's website.

I love living in a part of the world where community-supported fisheries are becoming a thing. We’ve written about CSFs here and there, but essentially this concept is a very logical seafood-based extension of our prolific CSA population: Customers subscribe for a season and show up weekly to pick up fillets of whatever fish currently swims in Washington-adjacent waters. 

This arrangement works particularly well when the said fish comes from someone who already has relationships with local restaurants. A good chef knows way more than I do about sourcing; I’m going to put a lot of faith in his or her choice of fish purveyor. 

Case in point: Preston Onkst has been working with Hitchcock chef Brendan McGill for seven years. He has relationships with fishermen up on Neah Bay, buying directly off the boats and driving them directly to his restaurant clients in his van. In addition to being a surfer and avid forager, Onkst just launched his own community-supported fishery under his company name, Wild West. Thus the public can take home the same caliber of fish he sells to restaurants like Hitchcock, Sushi Kappo Tamura, Terra Plata, Vestal, and Renee Erickson's restaurants. For $21 a week, customers get roughly a pound of fish, which might be black cod, rockfish, halibut, king salmon, or sole. Species vary as the seasons change, and if weather or other circumstances interfere with his supply, he’ll sub in shellfish instead (the website warns this might happen one or two times a year).

No surprise, Wild West members can pick up their fish Wednesday afternoons at either of McGill's Hitchcock Deli locations, in Georgetown or on Bainbridge Island. Maybe grab a sandwich or a salted chocolate chip cookie while you're at it? Fillets are cryo-vacced, making life very easy if you're planning to cook them sous vide. Sign up at the Wild West website.

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