Cook and Mason Deem Underutilised Seafood on Trend
Owners Gordon Kahle and Craig Houston, the duo behind Cook and Mason – a small, boutique café in East Fremantle – take pride on serving customers high quality, locally sourced and sustainable produce.
Chef Gordon said there is only one aspect of the restaurant that would not be classified as sustainable…
“We probably end up printing the menu too often,” he laughed.
“The philosophy of our restaurant is about producers – so we try to change our menu as often as possible to ensure our customers receive the best seasonal produce at the time.”
He credits the relationship with seafood retailer Fins as being the driving force behind their capability to speak directly with local fishers.
“The relationship we have with our seafood retailer is important as it allows us to be able to have necessary discussions with the producer, in this case fisher.”
“From these conversations we get access to important providence information to train staff who can readily inform our customers.”
“We also proudly include the correct origin on our menus.”
“I don’t know how many other restaurants within two phone calls who can speak directly to the fisher that supplies the product.”
“Labelling is just so important – it’s a good little weapon that also makes me happy as we are supporting local produce and our producers.”
“Whether it is underutilised or by-catch, we make sure that all our seafood is Western Australian and spruik it to our customers,” he said.
The Cook and Mason menu is based off what is good, what is in season and through conversations with their seafood retailer.
“Craig and I come up with the menu based on seasonality and what’s on offer at the time.”
“I just got a 5kg trunk of Mackerel from Geraldton that will go very nice on my wood fire grill,” he chuckled.
“We do mix our menu up with underutilised, by-catch and more common seafood species. I get pretty excited with by-catch products such as cuttlefish.”
According to Gordon, underutilised and the less targeted species have become ‘trendy.’
And it is easy to see why when celebrity seafood chefs such as Josh Niland are thrusting underutilised seafood in the spotlight. It was earlier this year when Josh opened Australia’s first fish butchery in Sydney with the concept to have consumers interact with them as they would a meat butcher. And highlighted in this new-aged fish butchery is underutilised species spanning from entry level to elite.
Gordon said that the change in perception of these species is significant.
“It is important for us to use underutilised species to alleviate pressure off more common fish species. And a lot of the time, it is actually these underutilised species that do contain more flavour.”
To continue the theme of promoting underutilised seafood species and general classified waste items such as shells, heads and bladders – Cook and Mason held a sold-out event focused on celebrating the weird and wonderful earlier this month.
Sponsored by Fins, Gordon said the seafood event acted as an experimentation for the venue – pushing the limit for customers and service.
“There are these unique seafood products that just aren’t being used. So we questioned how we can use these products and even the remains – into something that our customers will enjoy.”
“Octopus heads are a primary example – we had been talking about doing something with them since the beginning. For the evening we decided to create octopus head sausages with mussel mustard.”
“A selection of other menu items included prawn head bisque pan fried gnocchi, BBQ fish wings (American style BBQ), scallop noodle salad with squid leg pil-pil (a sauce made from oil in which the fish has been cooked with garlic and hot peppers) and crispy brussel sprouts coated in prawn shell and buttermilk (the shells were fried and dehydrated).”
For Cook and Mason, it is not only about promoting the lesser known species, it is about reducing or eliminating waste.
“Our mantra is simple – it is about showcasing the consumer you can in fact eat the entire seafood product.”
And plans for another waste, by-catch and under-utilised species night this year?
You bet there is!
“Most definitely. We would like to do one more before the end of the year,” he said.
Cook & Mason
125 George Street, East Fremantle
(08) 6161 9767
Tue to Thu 5pm–late
Fri & Sat at 12pm–3pm, 5pm–late