East Is Best: The Can-D Food Co.

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We love discovering new independent businesses in East London, particularly ones that are right on our doorstep. We recently came across The Can-D Food Co. when they popped up on our Instagram and were intrigued. We caught up with the smiley face behind the brand, Niall Carroll to find out more his unique super snack - candied smoked salmon.

Tell us a bit about yourself, where do you come from and how did you come to be in Bethnal Green?

I have lived in Scotland, Ireland and London for several years. I moved to Bethnal Green years ago and have always enjoyed how eclectic it is. It’s a great place to live with a good mix of pubs and restaurants.

So candied smoked salmon, we’ve never heard of anything like this and are intrigued – how did the idea come about?

I first came across candied smoked salmon at a family reunion in Vancouver Island, British Columbia, Canada. My cousins bought it from the local Canadian First Nation Tribe, and we shared it with some beers next to the bonfire in their garden.

A friend bought me a small Pro Q cardboard smoker for my birthday and made a lot(!) of smoked cheese. Looking around for something else to do with the smoker, I remembered our trip to Canada and decided to try the candied smoked salmon we'd had there. After some successes and some failures, I had a product that was attracting some interest from food professionals that I know.

How long did it take for the idea to come to fruition?

After a year or so of just messing about in the back yard I started seriously looking into commercial level production. I started visiting trade shows, internet research and had a very useful chat with Max from the Secret Smokehouse who was really helpful and that hour he spent with me was invaluable. 3 years or so after that we were up and running.

Where do you source your salmon from?

We source all our salmon from RSPCA Assured Scottish salmon farms. This is the best farmed salmon you can get, and we only buy from the 2 best farms in the country.

What did you do prior to becoming a master salmon curer?

I was a project manager for audio visual installation working on jobs for Google, Apple, City banks etc. and a couple of very large residential projects. So I basically swapped one set of PPE for another. No more hard hat required though!

How should we eat candied smoked salmon? What does it go well with?

Our candied smoked salmon is really versatile and tastes delicious on its own or it can be used to take your breakfast up a notch as a great alternative to traditional smoked salmon; as a creative canape on blinis and cucumber, as a sushi ingredient, in poke, etc. It tastes great on a baguette or crostini with goats cheese, mozzarella and cream cheese. It also tastes fantastic with libations – from whisky or crisp beers to chilled fizz and red, white and rose.

Do you have any other Can-D foods in the making?

We’re working on establishing the core brand before introducing new flavours. Once we have a solid foundation in place, we will begin to scale up and introduce new product lines other than salmon, which is exciting.

East London seems to cultivate creativity and entrepreneurship, do you think living and working in this environment helped encourage you to start your own business?

Yes definitely. Having Broadway Market up the road has been a definite source of inspiration and especially from Brendan of the Fin and Flounder who was a great help and has introduced me to some great contracts.

Do you think you’ll always live in East London and if so, where and what would your dream home be? Or perhaps you are already in it?

We’re just off Hackney Road at the moment in a great flat but we will be looking to move to Wanstead to get a house with a garden so yes we’ll be here for the foreseeable.

Describe to us your perfect weekend in East London, where would go, what would see and most importantly, where and what would you eat?!

I’ve been a sucker for the Street Feast venues since they started in Dalston Yard so would start at Dinerama on a Friday night when it opens. Then home via The Sun, Old Street Brewery or Virgin Queen. All great bars. Saturday, Broadway Market to buy dinner from Hill and Szrok/Fin and Flounder or the Brindisa chorizo from La Bouche if we’re having a Spanish dinner. Sunday my girlfriend likes to go to Columbia Road but it’s too busy for me so will get the BBQ out on the street or watch an F1 race if there’s one on. Sunday dinner would often be roast chicken from Hill and Szrok or The Butcher Shop on Bethnal Green High Street.

And finally, where can people get their hands on your Can-D?

You can buy our candied smoked salmon on our web shop here

As well as at the Fin & Flounder at Broadway Market; the Camden Grocer at the Camden Stables, the Fresh Fish Shop in West Sussex and various other farm shops and delis around London. You can also enjoy the candied salmon as a bar snack at Old Street Brewery in Bethnal Green and the Virgin Queen Pub in Hackney.