FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASEContact:Aaron Viles, 504-525-1528 ext 207Dan Favre, 504-525-1528 ext 209Friday, April 20th marks the two-year memorial of the continuing BP oil drilling disaster. Two years after eleven men lost their lives, help is still needed to restore the Gulf of Mexico’s coast, communities, and marine ecosystems. A group of 123 culinary leaders, including Anthony Bourdain, Rick Bayless, Susan Spicer, Donald Link, John Folse and Leah Chase have rallied behind Gulf Restoration Network’s efforts to restore and protect the Gulf in the wake of this historic disaster.New Orleanian Chef Susan Spicer, who helms Bayona and Mondo restaurants, stated “the Gulf and its communities, cultures and cuisines, feed the nation.But its ecosystem is threatened right now. It’s been two years since the BP oil disaster began, and it’s well past time DC took concrete actions to protect and restore the Gulf.”Spicer and her fellow chefs and restaurateurs have signed onto a letter to Congress and the Obama Administration, asking them to pass the RESTORE Act and send 80% of BP’s clean water act fines back to the Gulf for ecosystem and habitat restoration, both in coastal areas and the deepwater. The statement also underscores the need to prevent future disasters by establishing a Gulf of Mexico Regional Citizens’ Advisory Council to give local, impacted communities the ability to conduct oversight of the safety and disaster response capability of the oil and gas industry.The Chefs Collaborative aided the Gulf Restoration Network in the effort by sharing the letter with their network of chefs committed to sustainability. Chefs Collaborative Program Director Leigh Belanger stated,”when the chefs’ collaborative met in New Orleans last October, our members were moved by the environmental challenges facing this amazing resource, and wanted to offer our support.”The letter reads in part:The Gulf of Mexico is an extremely important region for the nation, producing an enormous amount of the fresh, wild-caught seafood that we rely on. Commercial fishing is a $2.4 billion industry in the Gulf of Mexico and the industry employs generations of Gulf families on both land and sea. …A large amount of the harvested seafood is exported to areas around the country. Louisiana ships 2,000 bushels of crabs a day to Maryland….Many of us have pledged to continue to support the Gulf’s seafood industry; however, we know that it must be safe and protected. One of the best ways to protect the seafood in the Gulf is to restore the habitat it relies upon. A recent report by the USGS shows that the Mississippi River delta estuary is literally washing away. With 30 percent of the nation’s coastal wetlands in the delta, the area is experiencing 90% of the nation’s wetlands loss, a total of over 1,800 square miles since 1932, an average of a football field every hour.The full letter, including the complete list of 125 signatories is available for download here.