Interview: Bart van Olphen is co-founder of Fish Tales

I love fish. When I lived in Paris in the late 90’s, after another day of hard work in Lucas Cartons’ Michelin star kitchen, I always loved to get myself some fish. Often I walked to ‘Au Pied de Couchon’ at night, the famous restaurant at Les Halles. Gorgeous fish, crustaceans and shellfish were all displayed, ready to be eaten.

Only a few years later, I quit my job in the hospitality industry to really focus on fish. Buying, selling, but most of all; preparing fish. But I kept wondering: where does this fish come from? The sea of course, but what happens to the fish, right after it has been caught? What effect do fisher, processer and packer have on the final product?

An enormous shock
My, possibly romanticized, vision of a fisherman that arrives at the harbour daily, to bring his amazing catch ashore fell completely apart once I learned more about fishing. The huge amounts of fish and the way they were treated came as a shock to me.

It is a tough business. A lot of the fish that we consume isn’t from small fishery communities, but comes from ‘factories on the water’; fishery companies that don’t look much further than tomorrow.

Simplicity and pureness
I thought: there has to be another way. I started my journey, looking for fisheries that obtain the best fish while taking care of nature and the environment at the same time.
Countless fisheries, in Holland as well, actually do an amazing job. By not catching more fish than is healthy for the fish population, with the right gear in the right season, they contribute to a sustainable future. All the people who work for those fisheries have one thing in common: a lifestyle that characterizes simplicity and pureness. With both feet on the ground.

Together with the fisheries
Meeting the people of these wonderful fishery communities inspired me to think deeper. By consuming their sustainable fish we can actually keep eating fish and so will our next generations. Therefore it’s our mission to make this fish accessible and approachable for any consumer and to recognize the great work and thought these fishermen put into this.

Fish is delicious and easy
Preparing fish isn’t hard and above all really fun to do! That is why I present my passion for fish and sustainability mission in writing cookbooks, sharing recipes and making video’s. I hope to inspire a lot of people to work with delicious, sustainable fish.

Fish Tales
With Fish Tales I combine two great passions of mine: good food and bringing sustainable fish in a fun way to the plate of the consumer, with the fishermen in the spotlights. It is them who make sure that our children can keep enjoying fish!

Image: © David Loftus