Chef Josh Niland may be young, and with that youth comes a spirit of innovation that’s giving the restaurant world the vitality it needs. Based out of Sydney, Australia, his restaurant Saint Peter is changing the way we see seafood by making sustainability delicious. Niland has found uses for parts that are typically discarded, like eyes and innards, and turns them into something delectable.
Niland got his start cooking as a child, having learned from books and TV cooking shows while he was home with from school due to cancer treatments. When he started cooking for his parents, he felt that he had found his calling. By his teens, he would have worked in restaurants, and soon he’d be off to Europe to hone his craft. When he returned to Australia, he learned one of his most important lessons. At Steve Hodge’s seafood restaurant, Fish Face, in Sydney, he saw that the focus was on the filet, and as a result, the discarding of organs meant that many odd though tasty ingredients were going to waste.
When he and his wife Julie set out to start Saint Peter in 2016, they lost an investor at the last minute. This required them to operate lean, and necessity gave way to creativity. Whereas typical seafood restaurants used only about 45 percent of a fish, Niland made sure to use 90 percent of the catch. Beyond sustainability, Niland sought out experimental ways of cooking fish, such as dry aging the fish into charcuterie. In spreading his message about sustainability, he recently released The Whole Fish Cookbook. Ultimately, he hopes to change the way people see fish and to get them to realize that there’s more to it than just the filet.