Richard Caring, owner of Caprice Holdings, has hit back at a report by campaigners accusing one of his restaurants of serving fish "as endangered as the giant panda".
The makers of The End of the Line documentary, which examines the environmental impact of overfishing, reviewed the menus of more than 100 top restaurants in the UK.
While the survey praised restaurants including the two-Michelin-starred Hibiscus and Le Gavroche in London as well as seafood restaurant chain Loch Fyne for their commitment to sustainable fish, it warned that a vast number of operators weren't doing enough.
It claimed that of those restaurants examined, a quarter served fish from the International Union for the Conservation of Nature's Red List of endangered species, while 85% offered fish classified by marine conservationists as to be avoided.
The report listed high end Japanese restaurant Nobu and Caprice Holdings-owned J Sheekey as the worst offenders. Nobu was criticised for continuing to serve the heavily endangered bluefin tuna, while J Sheekey came under fire for offering Dover sole, halibut, tiger prawns and Beluga caviar.
However, Caring has hit back the report saying it was completely inaccurate and defended his company's record.
"It is a damaging report that is 100% inaccurate and I am shocked that its findings have been published," he told Caterersearch. "We care passionately about where our fish comes from and all of our seafood is supplied by sustainable sources."
Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens, who earlier this year launched a campaign calling on chefs to become more sustainable, said the report was the first of its kind and conceded it may not be entirely accurate.
"However, it has raised awareness both for customers and operators and that has to be a good thing," he said. "Restaurateurs must speak to their suppliers and make it clear for themselves where their fish comes from."
Charles Clover, editor of the guide and author of the book, The End of the Line, said the report showed the wonderful work some operators are doing to ensure they source fish of the highest quality caught in the most selective ways.
But he added: "It also shows the awful dark side of gastronomy - chefs who place an ephemeral taste, for which they can charge the earth, above the survival of whole species and ecosystems."
By Kerstin Kühn
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