If you have not yet had a chance to meet Gynna (http://sac-be.com/meet_gynna_sainz.shtml), you are missing out on an opportunity to know a truly astonishing woman. Gynna does it all, and with humor and zest! She is a chef, restaurateur, a diverómore specifically a Lionfish Hunteróa world traveler, and a belly dancer all rolled into one tastefully tattooed, gorgeous package.
Gynna recently went to Curacao to participate in a World Lionfish Hunting Competition. Here is more about that:
Sac-Be: Gynna, thank you for taking time out of your schedule to tell us about your recent adventure. How did you learn about this lionfish competition and what made you decide to go and compete?
Gynna: When I started hunting for lionfish here in Akumal, the word started spreading that I was "The Lionfish Hunter." I decided to create a Facebook account just for that (Lionfish Hunter). I found out that there is an actual lionfish hunting community, and I started networking with other worldwide lionfish hunters. When I found out there was going to be a competition, I knew I had to be there no matter what, whatever the cost.
S-B: Tell us a little about your experience and how you did?
I had the time of my life! I made forever friends, and those are my team mates. Our team was called Los Asesinos Internacional, (Scott Harell, Cali; Norman Arendes, Aruba; Nelson, Germany).
We did very well for our first time meeting and competing.
1st Place Los Asesinos Internacional: Most hunted lionfish, shore dive category.
1st Place Gynna Akumal, a.k.a. Lionfish Hunter: Ultimate Eliminator, shore dive category
2nd Place Gynna Akumal a.k.a. Lionfish Hunter: Smallest lionfish
S-B: Why is it important to hunt lionfish?
Lionfish are an invasive species to our waters, that is eating up all our reef fish, with no natural predator but us.
S-B: Do you think more places will consider having similar competitions and would you continue to travel and compete?
Absolutely! There are tournaments being held where lionfish are invading. Iím being sponsored for the next tournament in Fort Pierce, Fla. by Zookeeper, at the end of June 2013.
S-B: You serve lionfish at your restaurant; as a matter of fact you were one of the first chefs to do so. Tell us about that.
Iím the first to serve lionfish in the mainland, thereís a place in Cozumel that serves lionfish as-well. I know in Cancun thereís a restaurant that serves lionfish, but Iím known here in Akumal as the lionfish restaurant, the freshest fish you can eat.
S-B: We recently read that James Beard is now offering lionfish on his menu in NYC and that it is quite pricey. Do you think this will catch on and that this may help solve the problem?
Absolutely; unfortunately the power of commercializing is the most effective way to combat the lionfish invasion. But I decide to sell it at a fair price, so itís accessible to everybody, as I hunt, cook and serve my own lionfish.
S-B: Where are some places you would like to go and hunt and learn new recipes?
I prefer to hunt lionfish in my local areas where they are not being hunted, but I would go hunt everywhere it is most needed, and participate in every tournament I can.
S-B: We would just like to tell you that Charleston, S.C. is a foodie's paradise and it has a lionfish problem. Please consider coming and staying with us!
Sure! Where's my plane ticket? Eat more lionfish!
Honestly, I should not be the only one serving lionfish in my area, but I'm grateful to be the one who's educating the people here in Akumal about this matter.
I would like to add that I take no pride, glory or satisfaction in killing any living being. Unfortunately it is not their fault. It is humans' fault for this outbreak, and I feel responsible for protecting my immediate environment and ecology. Save the reef, eat lionfish!
We are not the only ones who have recently interviewed Gynna. Read more about this fascinating woman.