December 2018

With the holiday season in full swing our attention turns to decorating the home, attending parties and entertaining friends and family. 

A staple for many Christmas traditions is beautifully smoked salmon; stacked high with cream cheese on a breakfast bagel, delicately served with caviar on blinis or simply served with muslin-wrapped lemons to start a meal the right way. In recent years London has witnessed a rise in traditional smokehouses so we thought we’d take a closer look at one to help us get into the festive mood and prepare us for the first of many feasts. Secret Smokehouse is situated in Stepney in the heart of London’s East End.

Founded by Max Bergius, a native West Scotland dweller, Secret Smokehouse boasts supplying some of the finest restaurants and grocers in London. Learning to smoke fish at a young age, Max moved to London at continued his training at London’s Billingsgate Seafood School, learning the traditional techniques employed by previous generations of London smokers. In doing so, Secret Smokehouse produces some of the finest, handcrafted oak smoked fish in London.

Established in his back garden, Max moved Secret Smokehouse to an archway in Hackney’s London Fields where it is today and continues to thrive. Secret Smokehouse uses the traditional London Cure method, a technique of smoking fish established in London in the late 1800s when London’s Jewish population began to rise thus increasing demand for traditional Jewish cuisine. Originally importing fish from the Baltic, London smokers began to preserve Scottish fish having discovered its abundance during the summer months. Now Scottish smoked salmon and kippers are regarded as the finest available. Secret Smokehouse uses a light smoking process, creating a subtle yet full flavour, after curing the fish with the perfect amount of salt. Everything is done by hand making it a truly artisanal product.        

Secret Smokehouse
Arch 367 Mentmore Terrace
E8 3RR 
All photography © Ronan Gallagher