BRENDAN Maher, owner of Scotland salmon company St James Smokehouse, said winning a Seafood Excellence Global award in Brussels last night was a surprise, but he must be getting used to winning.
The Annan and Miami based businessman said it had been ‘amazing’ when his Saint Pure Salmon won the prize for best new retail product at the Boston seafood show in March, but the latest accolade, for the best retail packaging, was ‘surreal’.
The product is sushi grade Atlantic salmon sourced from an Aquaculture Stewardship Council (ASC) certified farm in Chile.
It is cured with sea salt and brown sugar and smoked over Florida orange and grapefruit wood, giving it a light fruity smoke profile.
The salmon is sliced vertically, sashimi style, and the product’s packaging is black and features infographics aimed at a younger demographic.
Maher said his success in both the biggest American and biggest European seafood shows was ‘confirmation you are doing something right’.
He said no one else is using Florida orange and grapefruit wood and he wanted to do something a bit different.
‘Provenance is really important in terms of whatever product you sell,’ he said at his stand in the Scottish pavilion. In Scotland, they have the heritage but he wanted to do something distinctive in Florida.
‘I didn’t want to build a smokehouse in Miami and then just do a Micky McMouse version of what we do in Scotland.
‘We’re the world’s most award winning smoked salmon company and I’m really proud of that, but I wanted the Miami plant to have its own identity, and not be the little American cousin of the Scotland one.’
Branded as ‘Saint’ – ‘the brother or sister of St James’ – the Miami product takes its provenance from Florida’s heritage as the biggest grower of citrus in the world.
Because of the continual pruning of the trees, there is an abundance of wood – orange, lemon, lime and so on. Maher has repurposed this waste fruit wood which, he said, gives a light smoke….more ‘fresh and hip’.
The product was launched for the American market but he said it had since attracted attention in Europe and he will sell it here, just as his Scottish salmon is sold in the US.
Maher, who lives in Miami and Scotland, is friends with Johan Andreassen, the Norwegian behind the Atlantic Sapphire land based salmon farm in Miami, and he sees this as a future supplier.
‘There is a synergy there – he’s raising the salmon in Miami and we’re smoking it in Miami so that project interests me. Again, you’ve got total provenance.’
Picture: Brendan Maher of St James Smokehouse