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Seafood Philosopher John Bil Explains How to Open a Restaurant on 'MUNCHIES: The Podcast'

"I was living in the restaurant, so I literally just camped out that night and watched the fish."

by Munchies Staff
May 9 2017, 6:00pm

If you're in serious trouble, you might call a lawyer. But when restaurant people are in over their heads, they call John Bil. And for today's episode of MUNCHIES: The Podcast, we did exactly that.

John is the owner of a fish counter and restaurant called Honest Weight. He's a champion oyster shucker and the most legendary fishmonger in Canada. And when you need him, he'll be there.

For 25 years, he's worked to source the world's best seafood for restaurants in Canada and the United States. He's a champion oyster shucker, and owns Honest Weight in Toronto's Junction neighborhood—a hybrid fish counter and full-service restaurant that takes it name from the phrase "no springs, honest weight" that you'd find on old Toledo brand scales.

John describes some of the intense challenges involved with opening a restaurant, including an all-nighter spent in Queens drinking Ricard and monitoring a tank filled with 80 trout to make sure they'd survive for service the next day. "The one advantage I had at the time was that I was living in the restaurant, so I literally just camped out that night and watched the fish."

He also waxes philosophical about sustainable seafood and shares a recipe for whelks with sherry cream sauce and fennel that kind of sums up his worldview. "To take scallops out of the recipe and put whelks instead," he told us. "You've saved yourself a pile a dough, you've helped the world, and it's just as delicious, maybe even more delicious."

Tune in to the latest episode of MUNCHIES: The Podcast to go where no podcast has gone before, and if you haven't done so already, subscribe on iTunes and Soundcloud.