Sean & Michael Dimin

New York, NY

Founders of Sea to Table, a distributor that aggregates catch from small-scale sustainable fishermen and delivers to restaurants and institutional food services nationwide

Sean & Michael are New Yorkers who started Sea to Table with their family as a way to connect fishermen in Tobago with a wider market for their catch. Now the business aggregates fish caught by small-scale sustainable fishermen around the world and delivers it to top restaurants and institutional food services across the United States.

Q&A

How did you get into the seafood business?

I (Michael) used to be in the packaging business. Then, in 1996, my family went on a 10-day trip to Tobago in the West Indies. We spent a week in an idyllic village going out with the local fishermen on their pirogues, 25-foot boats. We’d pull monstrous fish out of the water by hand. One day, I went fishing with two of my sons and we caught hundreds of pounds of beautiful fish: blackfin tuna, yellowfin tuna, mahimahi. This little village had no external market whatsoever; they just sold fish to each other. A lightbulb went off.

The packaging company wasn’t what I ultimately wanted to do with my life. So, in 2003, my oldest son and I returned to Tobago and reconnected with the fishing village. We spent a year building relationships, and then built a small processing plant and ice factory. We brought ice to local fishermen in eight different villages, processed their fish, and delivered that fish to chefs primarily in New York City. We called the business Tobago Wild.

How did Sea to Table come about?

With such a small fishery, we immediately maxed out our capacity. Sea to Table started when we decided to expand our supply. My son, Sean, spent time in Alaska developing relationships with fishermen in small-scale fisheries there. We grew our model to seek out new small-scale sustainable fisheries and find markets for them.

What does “small-scale sustainable fisheries” mean?

It means knowing our fishermen partners, knowing their method of catch, and knowing that they do things in an appropriate manner. We learn about individual fisheries from local and regional management groups. We vet the docks with which we work. We work closely with the Blue Ocean Institute, the Monterey Bay Aquarium, and FishChoice to make sure the species are being sustainably managed and properly harvested. We also offer our customers the ability to visit the fisheries so they can see for themselves, and don’t have to rely on generalized information.

What are the advantages of this model?

Our model allows for complete traceability and transparency. We ship through third-party logistics, primarily FedEx, and chefs know exactly where the fish came from, how it was caught, and by whom. Instead of being subject to an arcane market distribution system, our fishermen can go directly to high-end users. They love knowing that their fish is being eaten in some of the best restaurants in the country.

What do you envision your role to be in the Future of Fish?

We’re interested in establishing better distribution channels and new ways for small-scale sustainable fisheries to get their product to market. Working from over 30 docks all around the United States, we send our fishermen's catch directly to more than 1000 chefs across the country, including over 30 campus dining programs. We would like to work with Future of Fish to help lead an effort to get more people to eat better fish.

Do you have a personal favorite among all the fish that’s flown straight from the docks?

When it’s wild salmon season in Alaska, king salmon and sockeyes are my favorites. That’s what we ship from a place called Seldovia Point. It’s in the middle of nowhere.