Fishmongers, who often buy directly from the morning auction, offer fresh, local, and high-quality fish and shellfish straight to the public. With impressive displays and handy cooking tips from the seller, fishmongers are a great way to ensure you are both buying local and cooking excellent fish at home.
The majority of supermarkets also have a fresh fish stand, but they are often poorly stocked with local catch and use loose definitions of the term ‘fresh’, with much of its catch having travelled on the supply chain for a number of days. Supermarket retailers, however, have the highest footfall and the ability to sell high volumes of fish to customers.
Early in her career, Abi Taylor realised that great line-caught day boat fish was not being given the full appreciation she knew it deserved. She wanted to reach the end-users – chefs and restaurants – and show them just how incredible it is.
That’s why, in 2012, Wild Harbour Fish was established with the intention of promoting line-caught fish from day boats. With fish out of the sea, into a box, and delivered to a chef within hours, Wild Harbour was able to supply fresh fish much more quickly than other merchants at the time.
While some of the fish comes from the fish market, there are boats from all over Cornwall landing directly to this supplier. This ensures that great relationships with local fishermen are developed and maintained, produce is kept seasonal (a sustainable method of buying as you only purchase what’s available and abundant at that time of year), and the trade is cost-effective for everyone involved.
It also helps the company better inform their clients – the high-end restaurants, many michelin-starred, that they serve in London and across the UK. Wild Harbour’s reputation has earned them the trust of many chefs, who take what they have rather than requesting species that are out of season.
While their clients are not in need of cooking tips, Wild Harbour often advises on sustainable alternatives to certain species – advocating for Coley (otherwise known as Cornish black jack) over cod, for example. They also have three experienced filleters, who can help to process some species as per the client’s request.
But at the heart of the business was fair prices for fishermen: Wild Harbour pays its fishermen every week rather than by the month. And, of course, fishermen are a core part of their product.
More and more, chefs are becoming interested in the face behind their fish. It is not only educational but tells a story: this fish has come from a boat under 10m in length, was caught by one guy risking his life by going out alone in all weathers. The chefs write his name on the specials board.
Nowadays, a chef wanting some line-caught day boat mackerel will come straight to Wild Harbour with the question: ‘Has Hope landed today?’
Wild Harbour knows where every individual fish that they sell has come from: the time it was caught; the boat it was landed on; its ‘catch area’ (where it was caught). Honesty is a ‘top priority’.
Sustainability is ‘hugely important’ to Wild Harbour. The health of the stocks and the species greatly impacts their business, so must be looked after.
With increased appreciation for Cornish produce within the chef community and a great reputation, the business has ‘gone from strength to strength’ and has grown to include other great Cornish fish and produce.
Seafood in Cornwall is ‘abundant and beautiful’, Abi says. And it seems especially so to chefs in London: ‘They think about Cornwall as a first port of call for fresh fish and shellfish’.
Like many in the industry, Abi is from a fishing family herself. Seafood remains a core element of family life, and Abi cooks lots of fish and shellfish for her three young children at home.
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