Man cannot live on steak alone, so we decided to apply everything we’ve learnt about beef (pretty much: buy the best meat possible and don’t mess it up) to the fruits of the sea.
Before we opened the first Hawksmoor we searched the world for the best beef we could find, before realising that it was right here on our doorstep grazing England’s green and pleasant land. As a nation, we’re also lucky enough to be surrounded by some of the best seafood in the world, so it felt like an obvious next step.
As with beef though, it can be really difficult to get hold of the good stuff. Before it reaches most London restaurants a fish will go on an impressive journey (almost on a par with a salmon’s up-stream migration). But with more lorries, depots, warehouses and markets. Delays along the way are almost inevitable.
We wanted to do things differently, so we teamed up with Mitch Tonks, to our mind the best seafood chef in the country and owner of The Seahorse, a great restaurant in Dartmouth that was recently awarded Britain’s Best Restaurant by Observer Food Monthly (something we might have objected to had we not come a close second). He’s helped us negotiate the complex world of seafood sustainability and fishing methods, and has shown us that (like beef) cooking fish this fresh is all about simplicity. He’s also hooked us up with all his fishermen contacts and his pal Nigel who has become our dedicated buyer at Brixham market. Every morning at the dawn auction he selects the best seafood, before sending it directly to us. No middlemen. No warehouses. As with our beef, the seafood we buy isn’t cheap – the best ingredients rarely are – but we think it’s definitely worth it.
If you enjoy your seafood at Hawksmoor then we owe a big debt of gratitude to Mitch, Nigel and the fishermen of Brixham. And a little bit to beef, which taught us a lot about how we should think about food.