Award-winning fish friers sample best of Shetland seafood
September 4th 2013
Britain’s most talented young fish and chip shop staff paid a visit to the Lerwick fish market this week – and were impressed by what they saw.
Hosted by Brian Isbister of Shetland Fish Producers’ Organisation and Martin Leyland of Shetland Seafood Auctions, the six-strong group was given a tour of the Laurenson Quay building, including the electronic auction room where buyers bid for the day’s catch.
The visit was part of a three-day trip to Shetland to learn more about seafood and shellfish in the isles.
It was organised by Carlyn Kearney of Frankie’s Fish and Chips in Brae, who is the Drywrite Young Fish Frier of the Year 2013.
The others, who have been successful in the same competition, were Leigh Foster, who manages Pantrini’s Fish & Chips in Whitley Bay, near Newcastle; Dan Harding, who with his father owns two fish and chip shops in Penrith, Cumbria; Dean Chappelhow, who manages one of Dan’s shops, the Angel Lane Chippie; Luke Gibson, trainee shift manager at the Burton Road Chippy in Lincoln; and Cem Oktem, who runs Packet Bridge Fish & Chips in Bolton-le-Sands, Lancashire.
Members of the group, which is trying to raise standards and come up with new ideas to keep the fish supper at the heart of national life, were impressed by the size of the fishing industry in Shetland.
They also noted how much it was part of the community and how well-educated people in the isles were about fish compared with most of their customers.
All except Frankie’s and the Burton Road Chippy sell fish that has been frozen at sea, so the young friers were excited to learn that tightly-graded, quality fresh fish sold through Shetland Seafood Auctions could be part of the menu they offer to customers.
But, according to Cem, they would have to work hard to alter people’s perceptions: “Whether it is frozen or fresh, the majority of people just want fish and chips.
“We will discuss introducing fresh, sustainably-caught fish in the group, but we know a huge part of it will have to be educating people.”
Mr Leyland said: “It has been good to see this young group visiting the market here in Shetland and being so open to trying new things. They are in many ways the future of this industry.”
Mr Isbister added: “I think we have a lot to offer in terms of the range of fish that are landed, in the accessibility through the electronic auction. Fishing is a vibrant industry in Shetland and we’ve been delighted to give these young men and women an insight into what goes on here.”