Does fresh, never frozen fish delivered directly to your neighborhood sound too good to be true? Think again. Founder of Bestcatch Seattle Alex Spencer talks about his grassroots company that does just that.
Bestcatch is an anomaly within the booming fish industry in Seattle. In short, it’s a community-supported fishery (CSF) pickup and delivery system for fresh, local fish. Owner and head fishmonger Alex Spencer and his team deliver to a number of different neighborhoods in the Seattle area.
Currently there are no locations on the Eastside; however, Spencer is certain the company will expand in the coming year. Eastside residents hoping to expedite the process should know they can help. The request process for pickup location is easy: gather a group of 10 people willing to support the system, and send Alex an e-mail through the Bestcatch website.
Bestcatch is ultimately about bringing deliciously fresh fish directly to everyday people minus all the hassle. “The CSF model puts the least amount of nonsense between the fisherman and the fish eater,” says Spencer.
After successfully launching and running another company for more than 20 years, Northwest Bounty—a business that supplies fresh, local ingredients to many of Seattle’s top restaurants, Alex was inspired to create Bestcatch Seattle. “Before I got into fish, I was primarily involved in purveying wild mushrooms to chefs since the late ’90s. Over the years, I developed a crew of local neighbors and friends that I’d sell fish to every week,” he says. From this organically formed group, Bestcatch was born.
Throughout his work in the sustainable fish industry, Spencer developed relationships with many fishermen—primarily Native Americans on the Olympic Peninsula—and he purchases his fish directly from these local fishermen. In regards to the species of fish available, he says, “Our mainstay species are king and coho salmon, black cod (sablefish), ling cod, halibut and rock fish, but we also get a smattering of sole, sockeye and smelt.”
This model of business makes it possible for the fish to go from the water to the customer within a period of 24 hours. “The key is all of our fish are sold before we buy them, and they are caught only hours or a day before we buy it,” Spencer says. “We’re basically picking the fish up from the fisherman, cutting it up and bringing it to your neighborhood the next day.”
Customers essentially buy into their share of roughly one pound of whatever high-quality fish is brought in, before it’s caught, and they receive it directly from the source, packed on ice and ready to eat. This aspect of surprise makes Bestcatch very unique in that customers never know what type of fish their share will be. This allows people to explore new recipes and cooking techniques.
Alex relishes in the fact that his customers know exactly where and when their fish was caught, even who caught it. He often receives e-mails from delighted customers telling him how the fish made their dinner or party an unforgettable event for friends and family. “To hear the exuberance my friends and neighbors had about our fish really makes me feel extra good about, well, being a monger.”
→ For more information or to start a pickup location in your area, visit bestcatchseattle.com.