Head Chef Paul Hogben seems to recognise no limits when it comes to investigating the ‘story’ behind the food we serve in the Club.
Earlier this autumn, as part of his mission to obtain the best British ingredients for the super food he and his team are now serving in the Club Restaurant, he took to the high seas to discover just what it takes to land the finest of fresh fish.
“Knowing where food comes from matters a lot to me and I know it matters to our discerning diners too,” he says. “So in September I donned wet weather gear, a life-jacket and the most positive face I could muster and headed out to sea, to see just what it takes to bring the best fish to our diners.”
Paul’s venture saw him head out of Eastbourne aboard the Deep Blue, a boat with a crew of five who are up at the crack of dawn every day to catch the outward lock gates at Eastbourne then out at sea for 10-11 hours before coming back in.
“We ventured about 25 miles out to some sandbanks for flat fish, including turbot, sole and plaice, then changed course and came in a little, to some wrecks, looking for bass and pollock.
“It was fascinating to see just how they go about their work. I felt the weather was good, but not according to the skipper, as the current and wind were not running right for drift fishing.”
“We didn’t catch massive amounts of fish, but we caught some lovely turbot, sole and other ‘flatties’ on the sandbanks, and some fine bass and large pollock around the wrecks.”
“Is it easy to catch fish? As with most things in a modern world GPS is a wonder. But how long can we search out the fish and hope they are always going to be around if we can identify shoals at a touch of a button? Gone are the days of hopefully hitting a large shoal and having a great catch to talk about later at the local ale house!!!”
So is it a fisherman’s life for Paul? “The open sea is a wonderful place to reflect on life and the bounties that lie beneath, whilst watching great big ships steaming up and down the Channel. But l don’t think l would like to be out there trying to make a living in the stormy seas when it’s cold and windy. Hats off to those guys!”
The Club changes its menus every few months, ensuring as many sustainable fish dishes as possible are included on the menu each season. It is all part of Paul’s crusade to create simply cooked, seasonal, quality British food – so the Farmers Club Restaurant truly is a shop window on the very best of British produce.