Duncan Law Seafood Consumer Center has plans to raise awareness about the resource With experience in marketing and nutrition, the new director of the Duncan Law Seafood Consumer Center has plans to raise awareness about the resource among consumers, chefs and food editors.
Donna Stone, former promotion manager for the Oregon Hazelnut Marketing Board, was hired by the center's board of directors and started work Feb. 1.
Stone has quickly learned the mission of the Duncan Law Seafood Consumer Center and Seafood School2021 Marine Drive, adjacent to the Oregon State University Seafood Laboratory
Completed: Summer 1998
Chef: Eric Jenkins
Director: Donna Stone
Other staff: Part-time bookkeeper, sous chef and food and beverage service workers
Offerings: Chef demonstrations, classes, private parties, in-house catering, meetings, gift certificates and gift items, giant barbecue rental and state-of-the-art professional kitchen rental. consumer center, which includes the popular Seafood School, headed by chef Eric Jenkins. She said Americans are not typically big fish eaters, but by connecting the consumer to the story behind seafood products, that trend could be reversed.
Articulating the vision of Duncan Law, the school's 82-year-old namesake who still "comes around all the time," Stone said, "Duncan felt that if we had a facility where we could educate and demonstrate, then we could get more fish sold."
Joe Easley, chairman of the consumer center's board and administrator of the Oregon Trawl Commission, said hiring a full-time director is another step in the development of the center.
He said he hopes Stone will help the center, "get more publicity, get a little more notice and see if we can't grow it a little more."
Michael Morrissey, director of the Oregon State University Seafood Laboratory since 1990, had devoted one quarter of his work time to directing the Seafood Consumer Center. He welcomed the addition of a full-time director for the center, saying that the move was necessary "to bring it up to the next level and make it more regional and even national."
While Stone has no plans to change what chef Jenkins is doing with the Seafood School, which, in concert with an adjacent banquet room, "is amazingly popular," she said she does want to expand on the school's successes and implement some new promotions elsewhere in the center. She said Jenkins offered her a lot of good ideas - things he has wanted to try, but can't because he's too busy with his responsibilities as a full-time chef.
Submitted by Duncan Law Seafood Consumer Center
Chef Eric Jenkins demonstrates a razor clam dish at a Seafood School's cooking class a few months ago.One of Stone's biggest projects is to turn the small, well-lit room near the front of the building into a retail center with seafood, gifts and culinary items for sale, she said, adding that the center would benefit from more-visible signs to draw in passers by.
"I think it's difficult to know what goes on in here if you don't already know," Stone said.
The Seafood School's cooking classes are very well-attended and at $40 per person tend to be less expensive than classes offered in larger cities such as Portland or Seattle. Classes focus on a range of topics, from a single type of seafood such as oysters or crab, to a regional cuisine, like Tuscan or Creole, to variations on sandwiches, appetizers or pizza.
Stone said she would like to expand the school's offerings by encouraging more tour groups to visit the area for multiple-day programs that "take people behind the scenes in the kitchen and behind the scenes in the fishery."
The Oregon native also plans to invite professional chefs from the Northwest to the center to build their knowledge of seafood and offer them new preparations and recipes. In addition, she hopes to get well-known guest chefs to give classes and demonstrations.
Stone would also like to bring editors from food-related publications to the center for a conference, noting that news stories about the center are "the best advertising we can get."
Her membership in the Portland Culinary Alliance and International Food Editors Council should help her generate interest through those groups, she said.
"I have a lot of culinary contacts, and that's probably one of the reasons they hired me," she said.
Stone's background in nutrition is another reason she's well-equipped to market seafood.
At 38, Stone decided to make a career change after discovering "what I wanted to be when I grow up," she said. Previously a medical transcriptionist, she enrolled in nutrition classes at a community college in California, where she lived for most of her adult life. She is a Registered Dietetic Technician, and can speak on the health benefits of seafood.
Stone switched from nutrition to public relations after discovering that the former wasn't enough to make a living as a single mother. Her grown son is now a state trooper in Los Angeles.
Stone is married to her high school sweetheart - a former farmer and fisherman - who she reconnected with after attending a reunion at Roseburg High School.