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In Conversation With: Celtic Fish and Game

Head Chef Bobby Southworth caught up with expert fish supplier Naomi from Celtic Fish and Game, to discuss all things Cornish fish at The Greenbank.

When did you start your business?

The business began around 30 years ago and it all started with my parents. My dad was a fisherman working out of Newlyn harbour. In the mid 1980s he decided that he wanted to set up a business that would mean he would have something to do when he retired from fishing. Despite not actually stopping fishing for another forty years! My Mum took over the helm in the meantime.

It’s a family business through and through, I have been involved in one way another since I was 15 years old, but after leaving university I took on a full time role, closely followed by my older and younger sisters Emma and Hannah. My cousin Zoe also works with us.

What aspects of your role do you enjoy?

I do all of the purchasing of the fresh fish which is a really hands-on job. I generally start my day at around 4:30am and the first thing I do is check the local markets to see which fish have been landed and in what quantities. By 6:00am all three auctions begin, this is when I make my purchasing decisions. I love that every day is different with landing patterns being driven by tides, weather and seasons. When the fish reaches the factory I am always excited by the quality, variety and freshness.

How did you introduce the game aspect to your business?

The game side of things really came about through my dad’s love of hunting and the great outdoors. I think it makes for a really lovely addition because it’s so seasonal. As we enter autumn we start to supply wild meat like venison and wild birds like partridge, pheasant, mallard and a few woodcock. The chefs love adding these to their menus.

Who do you supply to?

Right now we have around 400-500 customers all over the country. These include hotels, restaurants, delis, cafes, butchers, private chefs and home cooks. We’ve built such a brilliant relationship with The Greenbank especially, and its sister hotel The Alverton. I send a message every morning to Bobby, or Executive Chef Nick, informing them of the best daily catches. They both always really value my suggestions in terms of what I think should be added to the menu to offer variety, seasonality, quality and affordability. It makes the whole thing much more personable.

Like many people though, in the first lockdown, we had to figure out a way to change our business model. So we started to introduce local customer deliveries, as well as supplying to homes and fishmongers nationwide. My sister Hannah created our website from scratch and this was fundamental in our lockdown survival. It’s been a great way for our local and nationwide customers to enjoy our delicious fish from Cornwall.

Why do you think people should consider buying Cornish fish locally instead of at the supermarket?

Fish is very different to a lot of things. Obviously, the industry works on a much shorter timeline. There’s very little time between getting it off the boat and getting it packed up, to where it’s served in a restaurant or eaten in a home. We try to make that process as smooth as we can so that when you’re ordering, you know the fish is going to be the freshest it can be. It’s what we always strive to do. We also have 35 different types of local fish to offer giving customers choices away from the more traditional cod and salmon options.

What is the most popular fish you supply?

Hake is probably my biggest volume sale. And then after that probably Cornish sole. We sell lots of Cornish shellfish too – like spider crabs, mussels, clams and lobsters.

What makes fish from the South West so special?

In Cornwall we are blessed with a mixed fishery and a mixed fleet. We have many different boats operating many different methods of catch to land up to 35 different species of fish every day. The choice is incredible.

If you could only choose one fish to eat for the rest of your life, what would it be?

I’d probably choose hake because it’s so versatile. I love it battered and fried as fish and chips, but I also love it roasted. You can do so much with it. It’s delicate and meaty at the same time.

Fancy tasting all of the exceptionally fresh and locally caught fish specially selected by Naomi and Bobby Southworth? Whether it’s lunch or dinner, our team at The Greenbank can’t wait to welcome you.

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