Portland Shellfish was formed in 1997 by Martyn Assirati and his son Nick. They started out in a small building (they say a hut) within the Portland Port complex over looking Balaclava Bay. In 2002 Martyn’s eldest son Tim joined in 2002 as their main salesman visiting potential customers and building the business up. Ben, Martyn’s youngest son joined the sales team in 2007, now a real family business things really took off..
So much so, in 2008 they had a purpose built shellfish processing unit built with unbelievably an even better view! (has got to be one of the best office views EVER!)
As the name suggests they deal in shellfish: crabs, lobsters, hand dived scallops, razor clams, cockles and clams. All caught locally by local fisherman, with the majority of the clams coming from Poole Harbour. In periods of bad weather, they will sometimes ship them down from Scotland so the great mother ship (London) can still feast on the finest shellfish!
They have a team of crab pickers who can pick a crab clean in one minute, so they go through a lot of crabs in a shift! The crabs are all freshly cooked and picked within minutes; they can supply them fully dressed or cartons of white or brown meat. Here are a basket of fresh crabs just in from the fishing boats, destined for hot water!
Whole live lobsters & crabs and kept alive in chilled aerated tanks fed by fresh saltwater. They are only kept in these for a maximum of a few days or the meat will start to reduce. I have seen a lot of crabs in my time, but I have never seen a tank full of BIG crabs like their big-boy range! This one weighed in at over 4kg – now that would make an amazing fruits de mer!!
Portland Shellfish’s main customers are the big London restaurants, where they have an impressive customer list, including Le Gavroche, two of the three Michelin star restaurants and a good number of two & one star London restaurants! They have a chilled van that transports the shellfish to London three times a week; the shellfish is then moved into smaller vans to be distributed across London, ensuring the shellfish reaches the customers plate as fresh as possible…
If you have ever had shellfish locally chances are it has also come from Portland Shellfish, because they supply some of the best local restaurants, including River Cottage, The Riverside and Northbank.
Martyn now only works once a week and has left his sons in full charge. This is a real success story and one I’m sure the majority of people don’t even know that this exists, as it quietly goes about its business.
I also asked Nick & Ben which do they prefer crab or lobster: both came back instantly – crab! (my choice too)
They can also supply the most amazing moist vanilla pods (not sure how shellfish & vanilla works!) that they ship in from Tahiti. So if you are a chef and demand the best money can buy, get in contact with Portland Shellfish and buy some!
Portland Shellfish Ltd