Good Food Blog
Fishing for changePosted at 10:02AM, 28 January 2008 by Andrea McGinniss - Editor, bbcgoodfood.com
Just as we begin to get used to the notion that buying cheap chicken is about as socially acceptable as lighting up a cigarette on an airplane comes the buzz about the new fish and chipper set to sell a piece of humble battered cod for £12. That's not including chips. Ouch.
Admittedly, this is not going to be just another corner takeaway selling pre-frozen fish squirted with vinegar and wrapped in newspaper. Oh no. Tom's Place is the latest venture of Michelin-starred chef Tom Aikens. It will be in Chelsea. The 'cook' is a carefully selected French chef, and customers will get to choose if they want their precious portion of chips cooked in rapeseed oil or beef fat. So far, so posh. But the main message that Tom is trying to get across is that good fish, sustainable fish, and the kind that we should be feasting on, costs money (as do, I suspect, good French chefs). Because of this, over-fished favourites like haddock won't regularly appear on his menu. Less loved ones like gurnard, megrim sole and pollock will.
Politically correct or not, it could be tough convincing customers that the fried food their favourite chipper already cooks perfectly tastily, and for a quarter of the price, is worth emptying the piggy bank for. The recent attention bought to the sad plight of battery chickens so vividly on prime time television by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall and Jamie Oliver did result in higher sales of free-range chickens, but ironically, sales of standard chickens rose even higher. No such thing as bad publicity? Apparently not!
Whether Tom Aikens can succeed in his noble quest to increase awareness about eating sustainable fish remains to be seen. There probably are a lot of London diners happy to pay £3.50 for a chip butty, or £2.50 for posh mushy peas to go with their £12 cod, but in all honesty, well meaning as I like to think I am, I can't afford to be one of them.
How much would you be prepared to pay for top-notch, sustainable fish and chips?