Buvette Masthead

Seafood and eat it at the Fyshwick Markets

Emma Macdonald

Next time you buy a kilo of prawns at the Fyshwick Fresh Food Markets, spare a thought for the fishmongers who have stayed up all night to get you the freshest specimens possible.

Sea Harvest Australia owner John Kalogris has been sacrificing sleep for almost 40 years – all in the name of fresh seafood.

The Canberra-born-and-bred industry veteran drives to the Sydney Fish Markets every Tuesday and Thursday. He leaves at about 10pm, arrives before 2am and tries to catch a few hours of shut-eye before hitting the market auctions at 5.30am.


John Kalogris from Sea Harvest Australia at the Fyshwick Markets. Image: Martin Ollman.

Then there’s a big hit of adrenaline as John is pitched against between 150-300 other seafood industry professionals fighting it out to buy the catches of the day at the best prices.

“It’s still pretty exciting, it wakes you up,” says John with a laugh.

Once he has secured what he needs to stock his store, he loads it in his refrigerated truck and drives it all home again.

At the opposite end of the market is Ocean Fresh Seafood, where Frank Rios manages not only the busy shopfront, but pitches in on the takeaway counter when things get crazy.


Frank Rios from Ocean Fresh Seafood at the Fyshwick Markets

He used to work in the public service but says the variety of work in seafood – not to mention the busy pace – is more fun. For 12 years he has been providing fresh fish to Canberra consumers.

Ocean Fresh is a small business that also stocks wholesale seafood for some of Canberra’s biggest restaurants.

And it takes the concept of ocean-to-plate seriously, with the business owners also running a trawler off the coast of North Queensland which brings in prawns for the Sydney Fish Markets. Of these, a couple of tonne are regularly reserved for the store in Canberra.

Both John and Frank have seen their workloads increase this month as the warmer weather signals the start of Australia’s summer seafood season.

Prawns are plentiful and in huge demand.


Salmon continues to be popular while oyster orders are coming in thick and fast for Christmas.

John loves that the Australian summer coincides with Christmas, taking the pressure of people to cook hot and heavy meals over the holidays.

“If you are too buggered to do anything, you can always put a platter of prawns on the table and it looks and tastes special. You don’t need to do anything but crack them open with a squeeze of lemon.”

Frank says products such a smoked fish – salmon and trout – are great for platters, while fish takes minimal cooking time.

He is constantly called to the counter to talk to customers about the best way to cook their seafood, and while it depends on the type they are buying, he always warns never to over-cook delicate fish flesh.


He believes the Fyshwick Markets provide an important point of contact for seafood lovers, who can discuss what they are buying direct with staff.

“If you are not sure what to buy, or try or how to make use of it, you can just ask.”

He also says the quality of produce is superior to supermarket seafood.

Frank says he feels a sense of responsibility to ensure people enjoy their seafood and come back for more.

“You build up relationships with your customers and they like to talk to you about what’s for sale and how they should prepare it.”

John says he loves the customer interaction, even after he has endured a few all-night auction trips each week.

As both men prepare for peak seafood mania next month, they are planning low-key Christmases for themselves. With, you guessed it, seafood on the menu.

This is a sponsored editorial. For more information on sponsored editorial, click here.


Emma Macdonald

Emma Macdonald has been writing about Canberra and its people for more than 20 years, winning numerous awards for her journalism - including a Walkley or two - along the way. Canberra born and bred, she’s fiercely loyal to the city, tribally inner-north, and relieved the rest of the country is finally recognising Canberra’s cool and creative credentials. More about the Author

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