Luke Buchholz is living the dream of many Australians; he spends everyday fishing.
It’s been a huge pivot from his original career and despite having no commercial fishing experience or running a business, his seafood now features on the plates of some of Australia’s most highly regarded restaurants.
Mr Buchholz grew up in South West Rocks, on the New South Wales Mid North Coast, but left the region to work as an electrician.
“I worked for about 10 or 12 years … in Perth and Melbourne and overseas,” he said.
“My wife, Kristie, and I were looking for a bit of a break, we had a young family so it was time to come back home again.”
Having always loved throwing in a line, Mr Buchholz said he decided to give commercial fishing a go.
“I have been fishing since I was a kid, I had a bit of an obsession,” he said.
“We’re not multi-generational or anything like that … it’s something that we’re learning as we go.”
Starting the business
Mr Buchholz and his brother Ben started catching fish around the South West Rocks region and sending it to Sydney Fish Market.
“We originally started dealing with a lot of the big wholesalers down there and then basically the chef, Josh Niland, discovered us,” Mr Buchholz said.
Mr Niland is a renowned seafood specialist and owner of Saint Peter restaurant and Fish Butchery in Paddington and is known for his nose-to-tail approach to seafood.
“He reached out to us and we started supplying him directly,” Mr Buchholz said.
After the connection, the demand for his product lifted quickly.
“It was really a social media sort of explosion that took off after that,” Mr Buchholz said.
“That’s our biggest platform for new customers.”
The pair now supply more than 60 high-end restaurants across the country including Neil Perry’s restaurant Margaret Double Bay and Ben Devlin’s Pipit restaurant.
“We’ve taken a bit of a different approach to most people, we don’t use the local cooperative in town,” Mr Buchholz said.
“We do everything in-house from taking the orders to packing the fish to obviously catching the fish and do most of the delivering.
“From as far as Brisbane and down to Sydney that’s everything that we deliver ourselves and then we do airfreight around the country.”
Mr Buchholz said he loved the job, however, running the business had been hard work, often starting his work day at 3am.
The business just won a gold medal in the prestigious Delicious Produce Awards, in the ‘from the sea’ category.
“You have to be nominated by a chef and then it’s judged by the top chefs across the country and we’re up against other fishers from each state,” Mr Buchholz said.
“Last year we were a gold medal winner [too]…it’s a huge achievement.”