I've come to one of the city's most exclusive restaurants, Imperial, to taste the soup for the very first time. Wow, nice. King's Food Shark Fin. Shark Fin Chef Chen Chi-Kwan doesn't speak English, but the Manager David is here to help me out. So in there, it's uh...chicken stock? Yes, the old hen. The Chinese ham. So this amazing broth has been cooking now for sort of eight to ten hours. And it's flavored with ham. And he's just darkening it with some soy sauce. So it's got sort of salty, slightly smoked flavor to it.
The shark fin has been steamed, soaked and washed for days, and then led to a fuse in a basic chicken stock, and to the texture's dilateness(dilation). This one is a...? The shark fin...ugh...this way... Ninety pounds for that? Yes! Jesus! This one? Seventy quid. So ninety quid, seventy pound. So the quality of fin is judged by size and thickness.
The broth is added to a heated plate pot, and once boiling, the fin goes in. Alright, and that's it? Finished? As you expect, I've gone for the most expensive bowl. So, throw in some garnish, a little wine vinegar, some bamboo shoots, and some coriander. The idea is to peel back the fin. What was the taste of a real proper shark fin soup? I mean, it's really...really bizarre. I mean, really bizarre, because it actually tastes of nothing. Almost like sort of plain glass noodles.
The broth is delicious, pretty good. But it could have anything in there. It could have chicken, sweet corn. It could have duck in there. This is pork belly. So, the soup is like the...the one item spoiling that is the shark fin. I want to ask the customers: why they prepare to spend so much money on something that to me taste of nothing. No, it's not...Mr. Ramsay. No, it's impossible. Relax...relax! No, it is VIP. I wanted to go and ask that table of VIP guest, who spend ninety pounds each on a bowl of soup, and they're denying me access into the dining room. Have you...uh, a piece of paper please. A pen and a piece of paper. The paper? Yes!
Why do you enjoy eating shark fin soup? Umm... It's delicious. It's delicious, which is enough. Does it ever concern you the amount of sharks that we use and abuse in terms of the depleted stocks? Never. We never understand all that. Yeah. We never know. And it's now the most expensive soup in the world because of the price. Will you stop eating it or not? No, we still eat that, not very often, but sometimes, yeah. Special occasion. Yeah, special occasion. Mother's birthday. Happy birthday!
For my first point of view, it was something that really to taste absolutely amazing...and yeah, I pulled my hand up saying "Christ", you know. But it doesn't deliver. And the sad news is that they rely on their history, most of the tradition from their parents, their grandparents to say, go eat this, because it's the symbol of status.
My god! Look at this. Now I'm on top of the roof. And these are all laid out to dry. There must be thousands of them from here. It's a shark fin graveyard. With fins for sale on the shelf for up to two hundred pounds each, the amount of money on the roof alone is mind-boggling. It's a gold mine. This place is a fucking joke. Ok, she just called someone on the telephone. Let's get the fuck out of here. We're going. We're going. Yeah, yeah, we're going. Unbelievable! Fuck me! Let's get out of here before we get shot.
Jesus Christ. I'm watching her, as a scalloped hammerhead, one of the most endangered shark species, has its fin sliced off, while still alive. It's a slow, long and drawn-out process. See! The animal is still alive and wiggling, the pure cruelty of this. Just imaging taking a lion in the savannas of Africa, cutting its arms off and just throwing them out in the savanna to bleed and to die. That would be extremely cruel. The meat of the hammerhead shark in Costa Rica, once they are this size, has no value absolutely. If they bring it back to the port, no one will buy it. So that's the...that's the incentive to...to fin. It's without doubt the worst act of animal cruelty I've ever seen.
Hi, it's Gordon Ramsay. How are you? Good, good, good, good! I'm... Listen, thank you for your email. But I was just wondering if you could just fix a time, to give me five minutes of your time. I know you probably have no interest in meeting with me, but...umm...I think it's really important that we do meet. But, Mr. Cruise, I'm...I'm...I...I'm also a businessman. I...I run twenty-three restaurants. So, my business is uh...just like yours, very important to me. I'll come to you. Mr...Mr. Cruise, one more thing.
But then some good news: Alaco contacts Lorandos. Daniel has managed to get me to a private dock. I'll be telling them I'm a chef. Ya. Yeah, I will. And even better, I try to go out and join a boat: shark fishing. Jesus! Look at that. It's like going to prison. Ya, haha... Hola, morning! But first, I get to watch a boat unloading its month catch. Hola. Hola. How are you? Two dollars a kilo for the meat versus twenty-eight dollars a kilo for the fins, there's no doubt what these fishermen are interested in: To have the fins, just the fins. Fin after fin after fin after fin. That's the price, fin there, that one there. That's where the money is. The tail, the most tender parts, and the part that's most sold after to China. I know this is legal, but to find a shit quantity of shark being landed, distressing. This is all for that one dish, the shark fin soup. It's honestly right now starting to make me feel fucking sick. It's relentless.
And now, I'm about to witness firsthand, how the sharks are being caught. I can't believe you are on this boat. You know that? My journey is taking me ten thousand miles from Taiwan, to the other side of the world, on this tiny boat. Fishing to meet Asia's huge demand for fins. I'm joining a crew of four, ten days into their month out at sea. This is a small boat, with a twelve-mile longline, with eight hundred hooks on there. Shark, shark. First shark, and it's a baby silky, one of the most overfished species in the world. Like most sharks, they give birth to very few pups, once every two years. Less than a year old, this shark has been killed before given a chance to reproduce. It's not the quick humane death I'm used to seeing with animals back home. It's hard to watch. Fucking hell. I've never been exposed to the reality of longline fishing. Shit. It's indiscriminate. It's a turtle, fucking hell. It's telling you how to be a fucking nightmare.
And discovery: What bait is that? Yokolu? A shark? Uh? Yeah. So you use shark as bait as well. What kind of shark was that as bait? It is thresher. Thresher? Thresher shark. Fuck me. Yes, it was. It's tragic that the body of a thresher shark is of such little value. They're using it as bait. Finish? The end of the line? Thank God for that. Just as the fishermen loading the hole with today's catch, I spot something coming out for that I haven't expected to see. Show me this here. When...when is that catch from? This is from yesterday? Shark fin? Jesus, that's pretty big. When's that one from? Yesterday? Yeah. Yeah? Wow, what kind of shark is that from? Thresher. Thresher. Jesus. What else you got in here? And in here? Nothing. And in here? Wow...wow... And where did this...this must be a big shark, this one. Jesus. I didn't see any signs of the body down below. If they bring this fin into the port, that will be breaking the Costa Rican law, which states the shark bodies must be landing with the fins attached. Those shark fins down there... You have dissected fins. Do you have any more fins on board? No, just that one. There's just one, no more. But it's...it's illegal to land the shark fin separated from the body. There's no problem, because it's just one. It's just one. If there were lots we'd be arrested.
I suspect that those thresher fins belong to the body they were using as bait, because from what I've seen, there was no sign of a two meter shark down below. Such a small boat that don't really fit up, the boat with body of the shark at that size... So uh... Yeah, I mean... Fucking hell. I mean life is on the water, isn't that? So tough, very hard. These guys are under huge pressure to make money. And uh...some excuse, but... Yeah.
The plan is to show five of London's leading Chinese restaurants some footage of my journey, and to persuade them to take shark fin soup off their menus. I ask you here today for open debates, and I'm not here to accuse anyone of any wrong doing or misgiving. But after investigating the sort of shark finning industry in my program,
I'm convinced by decreasing the demand for shark fin soup, it's possible to lessen the demand for fins. To give them an idea of the scale of the problem, I'm showing them what I found in Kaohsiung port in Taiwan. There must be thousands of them here. This is incredible. Is every roof like this?
And Chinese cooking is always, and has been renowned for using everything. Five percent you know, off the fin, ninety-five percent is the by-product, you are wasting more than you're using. I guess, yeah. It's something that's been through tradition that shark's fin, umm, you know, is priced. Now, I know shark recipes that I know using the meat. So, when I look at that. I feel that: Yes, we should use the rest of the shark as well as the fin. Otherwise, not at all. I need to open their eyes to the barbaric and wasteful reality of finning. Of course it's shocking. Everyone in this room is here for a reason, because you can make a difference. That difference would be to start, alongside me with a campaign, to ban shark fin soup on the menu here in China town. The meeting went really well. It was a small but very powerful group of restaurants, and... if they are now agreeing with me to stop serving shark fin soup, that is a huge, huge advantage, because now others may follow.