Interview with Fishmonger Mark Lobb, Wild Food Devon
Fishing and boats are in Mark Lobb’s blood – his great grandfather was a fisherman in Port Isaac in Cornwall in the early 1900s, his grandfather was a skipper mate on a yacht moored in Fowey, Cornwall and his father was also a skipper mate for a private yacht based in Dartmouth before setting up a fish round in the town.
“I joined my dad in the family business straight from school and learned my trade, starting on my own in the mid 70s and setting up a fish stall called Wild Food Devon in Dartmouth Market,” he explained.
“The fishing industry has changed considerably over the years and awareness of responsible fishing is high. We’re experiencing a lift in the industry due to more and more people realising the importance of fish in their diet.”
Mark visits Dartmouth quay every morning to buy fish for his stands in Dartmouth, Kingsbridge and Chillington. “Nearly all of our fish is caught locally within 30 miles of Brixham or Plymouth. The shellfish is landed in Dartmouth and Salcombe, our hake and haddock are caught around the North Cornish and Devon coast, meagram sole is caught around the Isles of Scilly and landed in Newlyn then sent up overnight, and the wild salmon and sea trout are sourced from the Welsh and Scottish borders. As we work with the local day fishing boats, the fish is no more than 24 hours out of the sea when it gets to us which means you get it as fresh as it comes – local really is local,” he said. His personal favourites depend on the seasons and which fish is available at the time – lemon sole in spring, halibut in autumn and lobster and crab in the summer.
And when asked what the most unusual thing he has caught himself, after initially joking and saying “women” he said a sunfish - the heaviest known bony fish in the world with adults typically weighing between 247 and 1,000 kg.
Mark is keen to pass on his knowledge to others and runs filleting workshops and lessons on how to prepare crabs throughout the summer. “The crabbing workshops are great fun – we provide everything including the salad and the participants go home with a dressed salad they can enjoy that evening with a lovely white wine,” he said.
Wild Food Devon can be found in The Old Market Square in Dartmouth on Tuesdays, Wednesdays, Fridays and Saturdays; at Kingsbridge Farmers Market on the mornings of the first, third and fifth Saturdays of the month; and in Chillington (opposite the Post Office) every Thursday from 10am to 1pm.
To register for one of Mark’s filleting or crabbing courses, or to book a course for a special occasion, log onto www.wildfooddevon.com