Growing up in a land-locked town in NSW Australia, chef Josh Niland’s choice of career was not an obvious one. With busy parents working from home, there were no childhood stories of cooking at apron strings or fishing with grandparents. Instead, his story had a slightly more unusual beginning.
Living with childhood cancer, an 8-year-old house-bound Josh would find respite in TV cooking shows and recipe books, sparking the first flames of culinary interest. An ensuing desire to cook and prepare dishes for his family became synonymous with fun and play.
At the age of 15, Josh attended a charity lunch supporting children’s cancer. The chefs that day were Australian greats Tetusya Wakuda, Neil Perry, Peter Doyle and Stephen Hodges among others.
That day Josh was gifted a dinner for two that changed his life. He and his dad dined at Steve Hodge’s award winning Sydney fish restaurant Fish Face, and the young cook was hooked.
Determined and focused, Josh’s career started early and at the age of 17 he began working in some of the busiest and most notable Sydney kitchens. During this time his respect for fish, an ingredient of such ecological importance was matched by a growing anger at the percentage of discarded product and waste.
His then employer, chef Peter Doyle of Est, noticed Josh’s ambition and particular creative ability with fish. Nurturing this curiosity, Peter formally introduced Josh to Stephen Hodges and Josh finally found his way full circle into the kitchens of Fish Face. Josh remained for 18 months, only leaving to travel with his new wife Julie (also a chef).
They travelled through Europe where a natural curiosity led Josh to Heston Blumenthal’s The Fat Duck Development Kitchen. Here, Josh worked researching, experimenting and questioning everything he had learnt.
Returning to Sydney in 2011, both Josh and Julie harboured a dream to open their own fish restaurant and for 5 years they gained further experience and financial security.
In September 2016, they finally opened Saint Peter, a small Australian fish eatery in Paddington, Sydney. Saint Peter quickly became a popular, multi-awardwinning destination restaurant.
Josh Niland has pioneered dry ageing fish & his unique and ground-breaking approach to utilising the whole fish has gathered international intrigue and fascination. In 2018 they expanded the offering, opening the Fish Butchery, located a few doors down from Saint Peter. This one-of-a-kind retail outlet is a modern fishmonger that embodies all of the day-to-day practices carried out at Saint Peter.
Fish Butchery offers a temperature controlled ice free zone, where the fish is dry handled and cut to order. The customer enjoys chatting with skilled butchers and exploring lesser known varieties of fish taking pressure off over-fished species. The fish is line caught, local and sustainable.
Josh and his team at Saint Peter and Fish Butchery are constantly working to reduce the waste produced in fish processing, realising now that 90% of a whole fish has a desirable culinary application. At Saint Peter, Josh’s deeply intuitive dishes have finally found a home, and his innate creativity, a sustainable platform.
The success of Fish Butchery has proven that there is a wider following for Josh’s original and sustainable approach to seafood. September 2019 will see the launch of Josh’s book, The Whole Fish Cookbook, published by Hardie Grant.