Day-boat sourcing means fresher fish, fully traceable from the moment it’s caught, to its arrival on your plate, from fishermen who take the sustainability of the seas as seriously as we do.
We spoke to Trevor Blake, one of our executive chefs, to find out more about how our menus are written and why we only serve native fish.
1. How should restaurant operators make the most of fish on their menus?
We live on an island where fisheries are plentiful and the seas are bountiful. So, we really need to make the most of all the different species we have in our waters and put fish like Cornish mackerel, gurnard and sardines as well as UK lobsters on the menu. There’s such a full catch out there and it can be a GP winner, especially when you bear in mind the price hikes with meat now and the fact that consumers are moving away from meat and chicken and looking for alternatives.
If you are clever and know how to work with fish and use it right, it can be a real winner. The key is learning how to treat a great piece of fish well, fillet it carefully and treat it with respect. Cook it right and cook it with love. Put it into a hot pan, turn down the heat, and get the skin crispy and the flakes translucent. Try cooking fish on the bone. And always use fish and seafood when it’s in season and when it’s at its best.
2. If a chef wanted to develop a fish and seafood-based menu, how should they go about it?
Chefs are chefs at the end of the day – although we are also accountants, man managers, counsellors and parents – not fishermen. So it’s important to talk to your supplier, create a great relationship with them and take their advice. At Peach we are fortunate enough to have M&J Seafood as our supplier and we go directly to them and use their knowledge. They advise us on what’s the best fish and seafood out there and what’s the best price and we are guided by this so the guest gets the best on their plate at the best price.
So take the time to find a good supplier, pick up the phone or talk together over a coffee – their knowledge is key to helping you find what is best at that time – and put your menu together from there. Also, ensure that you keep it in tune with the seasons – seasonality is essential when developing your offer.
3. What are the key dishes set to be popular this year and beyond?
It’s summer so you’re probably expecting me to say how much we love a great lobster, and it’s true, August is a great time for native lobsters here in England. However, I think the real fights are sustainability and seasonality, and the trend that should be influencing us is simply serving great fish at the right moment, such as the fantastic quality mussels, sardines and mackerel we’re serving as I write. The trend should be sustainability and seasonality, not what’s trendy at the moment.
Work with your suppliers on seasonality and be guided by seasonality and what’s good and bountiful at the time. Use it when it’s the right time to use it. You’ll also get it at the best price then as well, which is good for the bottom line.
4. What should operators consider when it comes to sourcing their fish and seafood and how can they communicate traceability to guests?
I believe we should be using European fish so talk to your guests about why fish from our waters is best and why Europe has the best fish. Mahi mahi and swordfish are fabulous but airfreighting is an issue and we’re not concentrating on that as a society and we should be. We should be focusing on the best of what we have in this country and what we have around us, and I think that’s how we should be communicating to guests.
A few years ago at Peach, we decided to stop serving dredged scallops and put hand-dived scallops on the specials boards when we could get them at the right price for us and for our guests. They’re a wow factor dish for the guests that also fit with our Serve the Good Stuff ethos. It can be tempting to choose ingredients because they give you the best GP, and we do need to make money, obviously, so we don’t have to close our doors. However, I think that balance is key and choosing what is right for the environment and telling our guests why we’ve made that choice are the things we should be saying to our guests and they will vote with their knives and forks.
This August, you can enjoy the very best English lobster, caught fresh from our coast. We’re pleased to have the freshest catch, at its prime, gracing our specials boards from the world-famous Brixham fish market every Thursday, Friday and Saturday throughout the month.
Served whole with garlic butter and skinny fries – and without the air miles compared to their Canadian counterparts, it really is what makes British seafood the best! Best enjoyed with our wine of the month – No. 1 Rosé, Domaine Pey Blanc; a cool and elegant Provence rosé to transport you to the Riviera.
Book in and enjoy this beauty whilst it lasts – but get cracking, once they’re gone, they’re gone.