Episode 8 - Catch of the Day
On the next episode, screening Sunday 29 April at 7pm on TVNZ 1:
On the Kapiti Coast, north of Wellington, Waikanae fisherman Scott McNeil is out on the water at first light, and he’s excited.
“Any day, you could catch enough for a week. And other months you’ll not make enough for a day! So it’s always a juggle and always a thrill.”
Scott’s fishing for albacore tuna which he catches from his small boat in the waters north of Kapiti Island. Because he stays close to shore, he gets his fish to market quickly.
“Chefs love the fact that it’s local and they can have it in the kitchen just hours after it’s caught.”
After he hooks his first tuna, they come aboard thick and fast. Scott removes the guts and gills but otherwise he leaves the fish whole, because most chefs like having the whole tuna to work with.
By early afternoon, Scott’s back on Waikanae Beach. It’s a short drive home where his wife Maaike is waiting, ready to help process the day’s catch.
Many of the fish are pre-sold before they even hit the beach because Maaike keeps in touch with their regular customers, two of whom are just down the road on the beach-front.
“It’s so close we can just about drop the fish from the boat into the restaurants as we’re passing,” laughs Maaike.
“Waikanae Beach is a small community and it’s lovely that they all support us.”
Scott says it wasn’t long ago that every small seaside town had some form of small-boat fishing, but it’s disappearing.
“It’s a real shame. Those people that fish locally spend their money locally and the people buying their fish are local too. It’s the way it should be, I think.”
Their company, Awatoru Wild Food Provedores, handles more than fish.
Maaike says chefs who are interested in fish like tuna mostly want to cook other wild foods like venison, whitebait or different fish not found in their local waters.
“We find out what the chefs want and we source it for them. We work our business on a calendar so at any point of the year there are products we can offer.”
Scott also relishes the chance to showcase what he does to his customers, and regularly takes chefs out on the water to hook a tuna or into the hills to bag a deer. It helps the chefs understand and appreciate where the food comes from.
“They like the fact that we’re hands on, catching the products we sell,” he says.
“I’m not a foodie by any stretch. I usually like things in pies or on toast mostly, but I love supplying beautiful food for chefs to supply. That gives me a real buzz.”
Find out more about Awatoru Wild Food here.
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