In the week that saw Peterhead deliver a record-breaking 8,000-box market, London restaurateur duo, Jamie Poulton and his celebrity chef partner Ed Baines, from Randall & Aubin, were treated to a behind-the-scenes tour of the Scottish fishing industry, organised by seafood writer Mike Warner.

Above: Jamie Poulton, Jimmy Buchan and Ed Baines with a fine megrim.

Local skipper Jimmy Buchan was tour guide for the duration of their stay, which saw the pair visit Peterhead Maritime Academy, as well as tour the market and harbour.

Academy manager Linda Hope was delighted to be able to provide the group with the opportunity to try out the marine simulator and talk to prospective students at the very start of their maritime careers.

Soho restaurateurs visit Peterhead

Chef Ed Baines discusses catch quality with Peterhead processor Will Clark.

At the fish quay, the Soho-based pair watched the Fraserburgh trawler Sunrise FR 359 landing whitefish, before returning the following morning for the auction, where they spent a couple of hours observing the market and talking with buyers, eager to explain the current state of affairs with the North Sea fisheries.

Chef Ed Baines described the scenes on the market floor as ‘an utterly fascinating spectacle’ and eagerly quizzed merchants and staff about the health of fish stocks and the sustainability now being encountered.

Following breakfast in the Dolphin Cafe, the men continued their tour with a visit to Wilsea Ltd, where they were treated to a skilled demonstration of filleting, and further compelling evidence from Will Clark that many fish stocks were now being caught in abundance and how different markets, demanded different quality.

The hugely educational trip culminated in a visit to Peterhead Port Authority control tower and a personally guided tour of the new and state-of-the-art pelagic trawler/purse seiner Kings Cross PD 365, with skipper William Buchan. Remarking on the sheer scale of the operation aboard, Jamie and Ed questioned the young skipper on the seasonality of the fisheries for herring, mackerel and blue whiting and were intrigued by the array of technology involved in sustainably harvesting those species.

The day finished with a suitably appropriate lunch of hours-landed haddock and chips, before flying back to London.

Jamie Poulton described the visit as ‘overwhelming and a real eye-opener’, while Ed Baines was ‘keen to forge new links with suppliers’ and was delighted to learn more about the provenance of the fish regularly served in their restaurant. “It’s vitally important that we, as chefs and restaurateurs, get know to know more about the traceability of our ingredients and how the fishing industry works,” he said.

Jimmy Buchan considered the visit a huge success and was delighted that the pair had benefitted from an insightful two days in the life of Peterhead harbour.

Soho restaurateurs visit Peterhead

Ready to go aboard Kings Cross.

“These trips are all about fostering relationships and establishing connections,” he asserted. “We need to demonstrate to those in the catering sector, that our industry has come a long way in recent years in terms of responsibility and “conservation.”

Mike Warner added that it was incredibly gratifying to share the experience with like-minded people who enjoy such an incredible passion for seafood.

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