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Wednesday, 22 May 2019 08:37 pm

Al Brown – fish smarter and protect Kiwi lifestyle


Fish fanatic, author and restaurateur Al Brown in his test kitchen at home in Lyall Bay.

CHILDHOOD camping trips and a love of the ocean were the inspiration for Al Brown’s latest book, which he says is “not just a bunch of recipes.”

Raised in the Wairarapa, Brown’s family used to camp at Castlepoint and he recalls eating fritters made with paua collected at Mataikona, one of his first food memories.

Brown wrote Go Fish for everyone, whether they like to cook or not. He wanted to get people talking and thinking about where they live and what they have that other countries do not.

“We are so lucky to live in this country and be able to do this without licences,” says Brown.

“I can cross the water here [Lyall Bay] and I can get fresh crabs right on my doorstep and it doesn’t cost me anything, it costs me a net and a chicken bone. It’s extraordinary.”

Brown hopes his book will teach people not only how to cook what they catch, but also how to ensure future generations have the same opportunity.

He says even though around the world the oceans are emptying, New Zealand still has a chance to protect its fisheries, and one of the keys to this is smarter fishing.

Instead of 10 paua per day, or 20 fish per day, Brown thinks people should take only what they need.

By halving the current limits and looking at all the fish available, not just the popular ones like snapper and blue cod, everyone can do their part to make sure the ocean continues to provide.

“I just don’t want to think that we were too apathetic and look back when it’s all gone,” says Brown.

“I feel if we talk about it enough and our kids understand, change will happen and it will happen naturally.”

A lot of thought has gone in to the design of Go Fish, with a book jacket which unfolds into a hand-drawn poster with pictures of fish to help identify catches, and recipes inside the book for each of them.


Go Fish - but think about it, says Al Brown.

A “fortune fish” slips out of a front-cover envelope, to reveal messages about sustainability and how to look after your catch.

Brown’s own photos and stories supplement the recipes. He says he doesn’t like to do things the same as everybody else, “because cookbooks are a dime a dozen”.

Brown compares the book to his television show Hunger for the Wild, which he presents with Steve Logan, co-owner of restaurant Logan Brown.

“It’s cooking and it’s history. It makes you feel good about being a New Zealander.”

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is a Whitireia Journalism student.
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