From Billingsgate to Borough: The best of fish! Kitchen inploi Team | 04.10.2017
Established in 1999, fish! Kitchen has remained true to its roots, proudly serving simple fish dishes using produce freshly sourced from Billingsgate Market every morning. With two restaurants located across London, one in Kingston and another in the foodie hub of Borough Market, we caught up with Peter Wlodarczyk, Head Chef at their Borough Market site to learn more about what it’s like working at this well-loved establishment.
Peter has worked with the company for 9 years, working his way up from the role of Commis Chef at their Kingston kitchen, to Head Chef in Borough Market. “When I was young, I used to help my Mum in the kitchen.” Peter explains. “I never thought to be a chef. But when I came to London 10 years ago - the food is completely different - you have food from different countries. I wanted to be a chef - to learn different things.” At fish! the kitchen is split into seven sections: Pass, Grill, Veg, Fried, Starters and Desserts. The kitchen brigade at Borough Market is small and close-knit, with seven chefs working together each shift to cover the various sections. For a restaurant which can sit 400+ covers in a service, it’s a fast-paced environment to work in. “We need people who can handle it.” Peter says with a smile. “You have to be strong. It’s tough being a chef. If you can do it then it’s great - it’s the place for you.”
fish! Kitchen ensure that their chefs are well-trained, able to learn, progress, and are looked after throughout their career. Chefs working double shifts get a 2-hour break in the middle of the day where they can relax and have some food provided by the company. From the get-go fish! also supported Peter by funding his attendance at college to complete his Level 1 and 2 NVQ qualifications, and he hopes to do Level 3 next year. “It’s why I’m here,” Peter adds. “If you work hard they do look after you - it’s really good. You have to be personally motivated, but they look after you really well.”
The same goes for new chefs joining the company. The kitchen team are focussed on providing the best training grounds for young chefs, regardless of their level of experience. “Even people who have no experience, we can teach them,” Peter says. “They can slowly learn things. If people come in with the right motivation and want to learn - they are in the right place. There’s no problem at all.”
The food at fish! Kitchen is simple, British and classic, using the best produce they can get their hands on. The kitchens are open so guests can see the chefs at work, preparing anything from live lobsters through to the more humble (but ever popular) beer battered fish and chips. “It’s really nice,” Peter comments. “We have really simple dishes using fresh fish every day. That’s why people come here - fresh fish – and that’s what we deliver!” In addition to the classics, Peter and their Executive Chef sit down together to create weekly specials using seasonal ingredients. A great way for the kitchen team to explore using different produce.
“Working here looks really good because we have a massive number of customers. After fish! you can go anywhere.” Peter says. “Everywhere you go, that experience with fresh fish is great.” However, it’s clear that Peter is very happy where he is: “From the bottom to the top, you have everything here.” In their downtime, the team love to get together for a drink after work, and are looking into organising more group activities throughout the year - bringing the whole fish! Kitchen family together for some team bonding, and to say thank you for their hard work.
If you’re interested in joining this family-run company, check out their kitchen and front of house opportunities by visiting the fish! Kitchen company page here.