Reflection: Becoming a Fishmonger

Today I reread a piece that I wrote when I first started the fishmonger program at Rubiner’s Cheesemonger and Grocers when I was persuaded to the idea of dedicating my work and passion around fish.  Since then I’ve sold, taught, and showcased the fishmonger program and continue to learn more and more everyday.

Written on August 18, 2008

So I work at a cheese shop in western Massachusetts. I have a good deal of background (work experience, culinary school) in the restaurant business. Having my passion aboard, boss man and i came up with an idea to start a pre order fish program for the store after agreeing with him that the local supermarket selection of tilapia, catfish, and farmed salmon was weaker than ever.

Our Source: Browne Trading Company in Portland, Maine; nationally acclaimed for their fresh fish, smoked fish, and caviars. Since we already carried their smoked salmon in our store and seeing how i had dealt with them in my previous restaurant position, i thought it would be an instant “hook” (uh.. no pun intended). Little did i know that there are just are way bigger fish (last pun, I promise) in Boston, NYC, and other restaurants that are higher on the food chain than the cheese shop. If I called on Tuesday to hold that last wild turbot and Eric Ripert called the next day for a Turbot, chances are I’d be S.O.T. ( ‘shit out of turbot’). So began my journey into the world of fish, fishmongers, and the whole ‘fishy’ (seriously this topic is prone to puns) business.

Anyway to make this post shorter than it would be, (if I were a better typist) I set my fish goals high. I set up a list with Turbot, Portuguese sardines, rouget, piballes (baby glass eels), stuff that was very exquisite and also very expensive. At first we didn’t expect to get a bite but we did. Our second week we sold this handsome devil, wolfish. Boss man and I were so thrilled that boss man put the ugly sucker ( literally) on a white tray and walked him through our adjoining cafe. This was at 10 am. I can only imagine the feeling of the guy who was the slightest bit hung over, just wanting a cup of coffee to get him ready for his work day.

Since then the fish program has really taken off and we are moving up from just the ‘bottomfeeders.’

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