Australian fish butcher, chef and pioneer of the head-to-tail fish movement, Josh Niland, spoke at the recent Basque Culinary World Prize talks 2021. As well as advocating better education around storing and using fish, he also responded to the constant 'berating' he has received on social media channels following the Netflix documentary Seaspiracy, which advocated for ending fish consumption.
The Future of Fish
Addressing the audience of chefs, journalists and food activists at the online talk, Niland said: "Over a billion people rely on fish as their main source of protein to live".
"The only way that we can effect change that speaks to that 'stop eating fish' here is by realising a greater amount from one single fish," he said in response to all those questioning his use of fish in the wake of Seaspiracy.
"So instead of taking too much from the ocean, we need to see fish as being something that needs to be consumed wholeheartedly and enthusiastically. The only way that we’re going to do that is by building fish that is perceived as being delicious from head to tail, we're removing the discomfort," he explained.
“As a chef, my responsibility is not flicking the lids off caviar, it’s to realise that I have a responsibility to use my education, my technique and my training to bring comfort to the customer, give skills to my chefs and to educate a new generation of chefs what our responsibilities are.”
What Can Chefs Do?
Niland closed by offering some tangible advice for young chefs to apply when writing their future menus, giving customer's greater transparency and comfort, including:
- Include where the fish is from
- Say how the fish was caught
- Describe what method of cookery you’re applying to the fish
"It might seem self-indulgent to do this but it’s making the consumer more aware of where the fish is from and also what method of cookery you decided, so that in turn the consumer can go home and try to reapply that method that you’ve created that bought desirability to that fish and the comfort it bought to the customers," said Niland.
He also urged chefs to share everything that they do and to no longer be 'closed off' or 'hold onto' recipes, but to instead share their learnings to ensure we can all cook more parts of the fish. "We need to try to effect change on a global scale that can hopefully alleviate stress that it’s causing on our oceans."
Watch Josh Niland's inspired talk in the video from the online event below. Niland is the first chef-speaker at 14 minutes.