As fish markets go, Billingsgate is up there with the best. A huge warehouse full of stalls selling every kind of fish and shellfish you could ever ask for, it’s been supplying London’s best restaurants for decades. Based in Canary Wharf – a strange setting for an historic fish market – the building is surrounded by towering glass skyscrapers and gaggles of suited city workers queuing up for their first coffee of the day. As I tried to locate the entrance (and, more importantly, get out of the rain) amongst stacks of empty pallets and forklifts whizzing around in all directions, I started to hear the hustle and bustle of a food market; a slightly surreal experience when it’s six in the morning and barely light. I eventually ducked inside and entered a world of ice, polystyrene boxes, bright fluorescent lights and more fish than I’d ever seen before.
I was there to meet Andrew Jones, a Roux Scholar and the chef at Chamberlain’s of London, in Leadenhall Market. The restaurant is owned by Chamberlain and Thelwell, a company that’s been sourcing the best fish for chefs since 1947 and has its own stall at Billingsgate dedicated entirely to buying produce for the restaurant sector. Jeff Steadman, a partner in the business, was there to greet us and show us around the ninety-eight stalls and thirty shops housed in the giant building.