If you were to ask a person to describe CJ Jackson to you, it is highly likely that the words 'powerhouse' or 'dynamic' would be used. As the CEO of the Billingsgate Seafood School since 2005; previous vice-principal of Leith's School of Food and Wine; author of the Leith's Fish Bible and Billingsgate Market Cookbook; not to mention a guest on numerous television programmes; CJ has been a tireless face of cooking seafood.
CJ - her actual name is a closely guarded secret - was brought up on a largely self-sufficient farm, and family holidays meant fishing trips to Scotland and hours spent on the River Findhorn waiting for 'the boys' to catch trout and salmon. "I remember gutting and cooking my first salmon at 8, and a passion for cooking fish and shellfish developed from there."
CJ trained as a chef, and went onto teach and travel the globe, before joining the staff at the prestigious Leith's School of Food and Wine in 1989. "Each teacher was encouraged to have a 'specialist' subject and mine automatically became fish and seafood, so I put a proposal forward to co-author the Leith's Fish Bible". In 1995, CJ became the vice-principals of Leith's, before moving onto product development for M&S, and further cookery writing.
Whilst her love of seafood started early, CJ didn't enter the seafood industry until 2005 when she became CEO of the Billingsgate Seafood School, part of Billingsgate Seafood Market and the largest inland fish market in the UK. The market is predominantly staffed by male merchants, with a handful of women working as sales people and businesses. "When I first arrived many of the merchants were very dismissive of me - although not overly rude."