The Bay Smokehouse

Damien Curtis, of The Bay Smokehouse.

Damien Curtis, of The Bay Smokehouse.

Damien Curtis has combined his passions for good food, fishing, sustainability and tradition in his smoked fish business, The Bay Smokehouse.

Born in Venezuela to an English dad and Malaysian mum, Damien grew up in Paris, where he got a taste for gourmet foods including smoked mackerel, kippers and eel.

Later he worked in nature conservation, before meeting his wife in London and moving to Australia, where they spent time working with Indigenous people in the NT.

“Going out hunting with them, I was quite inspired by that approach to food and the ancientness of smoking foods. I love catching fish and cooking it on the fire and smoking it,” he said.

When he started The Bay Smokehouse a few years ago, Damien decided he would only use local, wild caught and sustainable fish.

“They’re all caught locally – a lot of it comes from old school fishermen – you know the guys that have hand made nets they’ve been using for 30 years,” he said.

Oily fish is best for smoking, as it doesn’t dry out, so he mainly uses species like mullet, tailor and mackerel, which have the added healthy bonus of being high in Omega 3s.

The fish is filleted by Brett Hogan – who was the head filleter at the Brunswick Fish Co-op for 20 years – and then smoked in Damien’s smokehouse near Ocean Shores using traditional fireboxes and techniques Damien learnt from a master smoker in the village of Grimsby in England – a place renowned for its smoked fish.

“I just cure the fish in sea salt and raw sugar and some black peppercorns in a brine, then I let them dry and smoke them over native hardwoods that I get from local woodworkers,” he said.

The end result is delicious, healthy, and free from the artificial colours and preservatives in some mass-produced smoked fish.

“Anything you do with smoked salmon or smoked trout you can do with this, whether it’s scrambled with eggs in the morning, on fresh bread with butter, in salad, flaked over pasta or fish pie,” Damien said.

The Bay Smokehouse also produces a fish rillettes (fish spread), made with organic raw cashew cream and smoked fish, which is extremely popular with Damien’s customers.

“It’s addictive,” he said.

• Find the Bay Smokehouse at the New Brighton Farmers Market every Tuesday.

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