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Thursday, 26 November 2015

If you can, work with them!

Michelin Star seafood chef, Mitch Tonks, explains how fishermen can work with chefs to make their product more profitable.
Fishing is a complicated and hard job and downtime off the water means no money coming in so that desire to land and return to sea must be a natural one. I wonder how many fishermen think about their product beyond the quayside and think about how they can add value to the catch by doing things differently. From the fisherman's perspective what is there that can be done?


But from the chefs perspective there may be things.
I was in Australia filming a few years back and looking at how fishermen had coped with the huge controls placed on fishing and still made a living; the answer was simple, if I catch less, I need to charge more. Some fishermen worked with chefs in seeing what it is they wanted. The best example I saw was a snapper fishermen who had gone from catching big volume to very small, he got to understand that the levels of quality directly affected his price and gradually progressed to instead of landing the fish on board and icing them, he killed each one with a spike through the head (an old Japanese method) then placed the fish in iced slurry, the fish were in the best condition they could be and their prices rocketed on Tsukiji and Sydney market, other examples were crab and lobster fishermen making bespoke products for chefs like lobster medallions, their investment was in taking the time to understand and using their expert knowledge to develop specific pieces of equipment to freeze and process fish.
This progress was made by fishermen and the end user talking together and understanding better each other’s needs. It would be a good forum to get likeminded chefs and retailers together to chat and help each other see beyond and past the quayside.