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How a seafood lover from Turkey found his plaice in Diss

Fair Green Fish Bar in Diss has become as recognisable to locals as the Mere or the Corn Hall, yet much less is known about its history, or that of its owner, Cemal Adiguzel.

Born to a farming family in Malatya, a large city in eastern Turkey, Mr Adiguzel had nurtured a love of seafood from a young age.

“I always loved fish,” said the 38-year-old. “When I was eight, I would go fishing on the river and fry and eat what I caught.”

Cemal Adiguzel took over Fair Green Fish Bar in 2007.
Cemal Adiguzel took over Fair Green Fish Bar in 2007.

After moving to London in 2002 to learn English, he became enamoured with the British approach to cooking fish – a sharp contrast from the culinary practices back home.

“I’d never tried British fish and chips before moving to England,” he said.

“It was very interesting – I watched people putting fish in batter and in oil. In Turkey, how we prepare fish is very different – everything is grilled. This was nothing like cooking on the grill. I thought, I must try this.”

In 2007, Mr Adiguzel, alongside his wife, Aysenur, 35, and brother, Merdan, 47, decided to open their own fish and chip shop – and found the perfect location in the small market town of Diss, in Denmark Street, to be precise.

“We looked at a lot of different places, but we liked Diss,” added the father-of-two.

“Nobody was using fresh fish and chips, and we thought – if we do fresh fish and chips, we could make a good business here.”

Immediately, he brought in a number of new practices; fish was to be cooked in vegetable oil, as opposed to beef drippings, and would be sourced straight from Billingsgate Fish Market in London.

For all of its plaudits (in 2008, Fair Green was recognised as one of the best in the UK at the National Fish and Chip Awards), Mr Adiguzel maintains the best part of working in Diss lies solely in the community.

“There are a lot of great things about Diss, but the best is the community, and how people know each other and care for each other,” he added.

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