Working Closely With Suppliers

Posted on 13/05/15 by Paul Gildroy

The Head Chef at The Magpie Cafe discusses the benefits of an FSFL licence.

Hello, my name is Paul Gildroy. I am the Head Chef of The Magpie Café Seafood Restaurant in Whitby, North Yorkshire and also the Manager of The Magpie's Whitby Catch Fishmongers.

I am the main fish/shellfish buyer for both businesses and regularly buy on both Whitby and Scarborough Fish Markets whilst liaising closely with my wet fish supplier for the bulk of my fish which during the busy season can use in excess of 80 stone (500 kilos) per day plus shellfish such as lobsters and crab.

Quality is paramount to our business so being able to buy via auction allows me to bid for the very best fish available and gives me full traceability, which for our restaurant and fishmongers is very important as customers are increasingly wanting to know where the fish was caught, the name of the boat and occasionally even the name of the skipper.

Having a license to buy fish via auction gives me more control over my menu and control over the size and quality of fish which I buy.

We also hold a First Sale Fish License (FSFL), a license to buy fish direct from boats that hold a fishing license and have quota to fish. https://www.gov.uk/government/publications/register-as-a-buyer-or-seller-of-first-sale-marine-fish

Restaurants holding this type of license could be of benefit to local fishermen in coastal villages or towns that don't have a fish auction on their doorstep, giving them an extra outlet for their catch.

You are required by law to keep a record of species of fish, weights and prices paid.

For us, holding an FSFL gives us the opportunity to build a strong relationship with local fishermen giving us the pick of the catch, knowing that the fish or shellfish that they catch is the freshest it can be from sea to table or sea to counter in a matter of hours – again this gives us full traceability.

You also find that you work more closely with the fishermen on seasonality and even targeting certain species of fish that are synonymous for that area of coastline.

Holding an FSFL can save you money whilst still giving the boat fair prices for the fish or shellfish that you are buying. The skipper will have a fair idea of what the prices should be and if the skipper is happy with what he is getting, then there's more of a chance that he will keep fishing - hopefully introducing others to fishing and keeping this traditional industry alive and kicking.

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