London salmon smokers locked in bitter feud over prestigious PGI status

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Town may not be big enough for the both of them.

The Observer reports that the owners of two of London’s most reputable salmon smokehouses have been battling it out.

Secret Smokehouse ran by Max Bergius. PHOTO: Secret Smokehouse

The Times also picked the story.

Relative newcomer Secret Smokehouse, run by Max Bergius is embroiled in a bitter rivalry with the 116-year old H Forman & Son is run by Lance Forman.

Both are high-end, delivering to culinary A-listers such as famed chef Heston Blumenthal (Secret Smokehouse) and Connaught hotel in Mayfair and the Royal Opera House (H Forman & Son).

Both smokehouses were awarded Protected Geographical Indication (PGI) status, the only two to have the status in London, around the same period in 2017. At the time, Bergius and Forman were very vocal to each other Twitter.

The PGI status is designed to protect and celebrate traditional regional food. That means that London Cure Smoked Salmon has to be produced in the London Boroughs of Hackney, Tower Hamlets or Newham. The ingredients have to be PGI-protected Scottish salmon, oak smoke and salt.

Bergius has accused Forman of repeatedly calling Defra, Department for Environment Food and Rural Affairs (Defra), on him, which Forman confirmed to the publication, leading to inspections at Secret Smokehouse. He accused Forman of bullying, which the former Brexit MEP denied.

“The last thing you should be surely doing is trying to take a fellow smoker down,” said Bergius.

London and the UK are “big enough, for not only us but a whole array of brilliant smokehouses to be smoking and supplying lots of people. But this particular chap just goes around town bullying everybody, slagging everybody off, whether it be us, whether it be other smokehouses,” he added.

“We welcome other businesses who wish to produce London Cure smoked salmon so that more of this amazing product can be enjoyed by food lovers,” said Forman.

“What we don’t appreciate is firms claiming that their product has PGI status while fundamentally changing the methods of production. This gives diners a false impression of how London Cure smoked salmon is meant to taste,” added Forman.