As acclaimed writer Jonathan Reeve sets out to explore how to capture ‘Cornwall in a mouthful’ we are delighted that The Cornish Fishmonger makes his exclusive shortlist:"... Quality stock
Rob Wing has been supplying fish to top British chefs – Stein and Outlaw among them – for decades. Like me, Rob is originally from St Mawes – a picturesque fishing village of slate roofs and seagulls. My earliest memory is of looking across St Mawes harbour towards the Tresanton Hotel – still one of Cornwall’s top dining destinations. At that time Rob was head chef at the Tresanton where he regularly cooked for well-heeled, yacht-owning customers, royalty included. Rob has witnessed Cornwall’s foodie development right from the start. In the 1970s he remembers cooking ‘the same old dishes that had been served since the war’. And in the 1980s, ‘you’d really struggle to sell any fish other than the traditional and obvious: haddock, cod, sole and maybe turbot’.
When Rob explained what happened next, things got really interesting. In the 1990s, nature and politics collided. Massively depleted fish stocks – caused by decades of over-fishing – led the EU to impose drastically reduced fishing quotas. Cornwall’s fishing industry was hit hard, bringing tragedy to many families – a sad thread in this otherwise happy story. Cornish chefs could no longer expect to get whatever fish they wanted. They were forced to think creatively, learn to cook new types of fish, design menus with freshness and availability in mind, and follow the ocean’s seasonal changes. Happily, the EU quota restrictions achieved their purpose and – as Rob puts it – ‘today we have (almost) stable fish stocks. Although we have a small slice of the pie, at least it’s in good condition’. The tough times that Cornwall endured in the 1990s contributed massively to the stability it enjoys today. Rob fought hard for his livelihood like everyone else, and his perseverance paid off. Today he runs two highly respected fish businesses – Wing of St Mawes and its retail side The Cornish Fishmonger..."
Extract from 'Cornwall - A Sea Change' by Jonathan Reeve January 2021. Read on to enjoy the full article here