A team of chefs from Brighton’s The Salt Room restaurant, 2017 UK winners of the Seafood Restaurant of the Year Competition – organised by Seafish and The Caterer – recently went on an educational study trip showcasing Brixham’s fish and shellfish industry.
The trip was arranged by Seafish as part of The Salt Room’s prize. The team of chefs visited the Brixham area to discover more about the fish and shellfish that they use on a daily basis in their restaurant. The visiting chefs from the East Sussex restaurant were Dave Mothersill, Marcus Ingram and Harry Traynor.
Experiencing first-hand how a wide variety of different fish and shellfish species are landed into Brixham before then being distributed to restaurants and retail outlets throughout the UK and further afield, the chefs undertook an early morning visit to Brixham fishmarket. Here they witnessed the hustle and bustle of fish and shellfish being auctioned to a wide variety of industry buyers, and also had the chance to observe operations at The Blue Sea Food Company in neighbouring Paignton, the UK’s largest processor of crabs.
The chefs also had the opportunity to meet with a number of seafood industry representatives, learning about the various processes that are involved in the journey undertaken by seafood, from being responsibly caught and sourced through to being served onto the plates of consumers.
Dave Mothersill, executive chef of The Salt Room, stated: “Our customers are increasingly interested in the topic of provenance – they want to know more about what they’re eating and where it has been sourced. That’s great for us and also great for our front-of-house team, and a trip like this gets us right out of the kitchen, out of our comfort zone, to see how it all happens at the point of landing, to see seafood being sold at auction, and to observe the skills utilised in the processing sites, before the fish and shellfish we use eventually reaches us at our restaurant.
“In Brighton our customers want to know everything about the food they are dining on, where it comes from and how the chef has prepared it. At The Salt Room regular diners make up about 15% to 20% of our overall trade and they want to try something new on such repeat visits – the knowledge gained from being part of this study trip to Brixham will greatly help our future conversations with our suppliers as to the different species and quality of produce that we require to provide our diners with a fantastic dining experience at The Salt Room.”
Latest annual retail data shows that over 467,000 tonnes of seafood was purchased by British consumers, and the port of Brixham plays an important role in meeting the demand for high-quality, responsibly sourced fish and shellfish – nearly 15,000 tonnes of fish and shellfish worth £40m was landed at Brixham last year.
Brixham fish is well-known throughout the UK due to its freshness and quality, helping to make Brixham the top-earning fishing port in England and Wales.
Marcus Coleman, chief executive at Seafish, added: “This trip has provided the visiting chefs with first-hand insight into how the fish and shellfish they use on a daily basis in their kitchen is sourced and processed prior to supply to the UK restaurant industry.
“It has also helped highlight the importance of all sectors of the fishing industry working together, both at home and further afield, to ensure that the UK’s demand for seafood is sustainably met for generations to come.” The 2018 Seafood Restaurant of the Year Competition is now open for entry. Further details are available at seafoodrestaurantoftheyear.co.uk
Main image: Dave Mothersill, group head chef, and Raz Helalat, owner of The Salt Room, Brighton