At 29 years old, Sydney chef, restaurateur, retailer and wholesaler Josh Niland is balancing a lot on his shoulders. He’s already running Australia’s best seafood restaurant Saint Peter and its retail spin-off The Fish Butchery, and now Niland is opening a market stall at Carriageworks Farmers Market. It will be there every Saturday, starting August 11.
This is not like throwing together a lemonade stand out the front of your house. It involves leasing a commercial kitchen, sourcing equipment, obtaining Food Safety Supervisor certifications and fronting up at 6am every Saturday morning.
How does Niland plan to fit it in? “Well,” he says, followed by a long pause that suggests he doesn’t really have the answer. “I’m working with some really talented people at the butchery. Paul Farag (ex Monopole chef) and Tod Garrat (ex Balcon by Tapavino chef and former co-owner and chef of Wine Library) manage the place.”
Apart from the Brilliant Food fish smoker, Niland and his team won’t face any other fish competition at the market. “That was really exciting – that we’d be one of a kind,” he says.
The Fish Butchery stall will sell responsibly caught Australian fish based on what’s fresh that morning. It’ll also offer pan-ready, boneless and pre-prepared seafood meals, including fish curry in a bottle, fish pie ready for the oven and crumbed pieces of fish poised for the pan. There will also be fish fingers, fish cakes and fish sausages.
The Fish Butchery’s sell-out fish sandwich (it has a wait list) will also make a return. Wild cobia from Evans Head in NSW (which is hard to come by and takes a few weeks to arrive) is corned like beef before being crumbed and wedged in a soft, white bread roll with a slice of cheese and some tart pickles. “It’s not Americanised brioche or a sweet milk bun – it’s a nice white roll,” says Niland.
A range of condiments, from yoghurt tartare to sweet-and-sour sauce, will also be available, plus merchandise.
Niland doesn’t believe fish diners should be restricted to just salmon or tuna. He says his market stall is “about diversifying what goes on people’s tables. It will be nice to offer them something different every week … don’t expect the same thing.”
The Saturday Carriageworks Farmers Market has been running since 2009. With space for 75 vendors, it’s the epicentre of top-notch seasonal fruit, vegetables, meat and cheese from NSW purveyors and producers. “It’s amazing Sydneysiders can get in front of a producer – all under one roof – and we can celebrate what they’re good at,” says Niland.
The stall will also serve as an important marketing tool for the Fish Butchery and help to get the business in front of a larger audience – 5000 people each Saturday to be exact. “The butchery could never exist as a little shop on Oxford. It needs to be wholesale,” he says, citing six restaurants that currently sell his fish, including Dear Saint Eloise. And there are plans to add more. “We want to communicate how to purchase, cook and store fish better and really get that point across.”
Josh Niland will run his Fish Butchery stall at Carriageworks Farmers Market from Saturday August 11. The market is on every Saturday from 8am until 1pm.
This article was updated on August 7, 2018.