Most folks familiar with Fish Island probably know the area for its couple of canal-side hipster cafes, plethora of street art, views of the Olympic Stadium, and proximity to the Olympic Park and Westfield Stratford City. It’s as dynamic an East End destination as anywhere, and just a short stroll from Hackney Wick Overground Station (and not too terribly far from Stratford Station as well).
However, more than all of that, Fish Island is home to the H Forman & Son Smokehouse. A 110 year old venture that’s been smoking Scottish salmon in the same way as it always has, Forman supplies some of the nation’s top restaurants with its smokehouse delicacies. Over the past decade, this family run business has branched out with Forman & Field, an online catalogue of gourmet food from independent producers. There’s also a restaurant at the smokehouse as well as a gallery and events space (each capitalising on Fish Island’s views of the Olympic Stadium).
I spent the morning with fourth generation proprietor Lance Forman touring his Fish Island facilities. It was Lance’s great grandfather, an émigré from Odessa escaping the pogroms, who set up the smokehouse seeking to replicate the smoked salmon he was accustomed to having back in his Eastern European home, as well as to cater to the tastes of the rest of the East End’s growing Jewish community. Lance reckons the business that his great granddad started represents the oldest commercial producer of smoked salmon in the world – and that smoked salmon as his family does it, was the first British gourmet food.