Chef Ben Tunnicliffe has been granted a license to buy the daily catch direct from fishing vessels, making The Tolcarne Inn in Newlyn one of a handful of restaurants in Cornwall to use this license.
The ‘Certificate of Designation as a Buyer of First Sale Fish’, issued by the Marine Management Organisation, allows Ben to source seafood straight from day boat fishermen; these small vessels go in and out with the tides, fish immediately offshore, and use traditional and sustainable fishing techniques to catch their low-impact quotas.
Ben explained: “We work with a fantastic fish merchant in Stevenson Newlyn and that’s not going to change, but because we operate a daily-changing menu we have the opportunity to be more responsive and take small amounts straight off the boat – just hours after it has been caught.”
Ben and his team will be showcasing day boat fish this summer with a new ‘small plates’ menu at lunch time, encouraging diners to try a variety of species with dishes starting at just £7.
Ben said: “The day boats are a great source of sustainably-caught fish, and the fishermen we work with know that we’re happy to cook a diverse selection of seafood. It means a lot more cleaning and filleting in-house, which is really positive as it means young chefs are perfecting those important skills.”
Ben, who has been a passionate advocate of Cornish seafood for more than two decades, is one of the most acclaimed chefs in the South West.
He gained one of Cornwall’s first Michelin Stars at The Abbey in Penzance in 2003 and was part of the team which launched leading luxury eco-hotel, The Scarlet at Mawgan Porth.
He took on the lease of The Tolcarne Inn in 2012 and, under his patronage, the historic maritime pub quickly became an unmissable dining destination for seafood lovers.
Sheltering behind the sea wall in Newlyn, The Tolcarne Inn is just a few hundred metres from one of the busiest and most diverse fish markets in the UK; up to 53 different species can be landed in any one day.
Now Ben is taking his sourcing policy a step further and going straight to source, working directly with day boat fishermen to bring their catch to table, and encouraging guests to try new things by mixing and matching small plates.
Seafood is served alongside fresh produce sourced from small local growers; Ben’s ethos is to combine flavours simply and instinctively, letting the quality of all the ingredients speak for themselves.