Regional Seafood Skills Project Benefits Seafood and Catering Businesses Across The South West
Thursday, 26 January 2012 11:21

In the last year, over 30 Seafood and Catering Businesses from across the South West have benefitted from a programme of Seafood Skills Training delivered by Seafood Cornwall Training.

Many types of businesses have benefited from the programme of courses which formed part of a wider Regional Skills Project developed and supported by South West Food and Drink (SWFD) to boost the sector across South West.  Seafish accredited short courses in Fish Filleting, Fishmongery and Seafood Quality were delivered to more than 90 employees from businesses based in Cornwall, Devon, Dorset, Gloucestershire and Bristol.  Chefs, business start-ups, small scale retail and wholesale businesses, as well as Cornwall's largest processor and Fifteen Cornwall, all took part in courses which were certified by Seafish and led by Seafish Approved Instructors.

Sarah Crosbie, Manager of Seafood Cornwall Training, explained, "It is clear from the feedback received to date, that all the individuals and businesses involved have benefitted a great deal from the skills project.  Employees from all stages of the supply chain; from the catcher to the chef, have gained knowledge, skills and confidence and the benefits can be seen across the board.  Training definitely makes a difference. It is about empowering people with skills and knowledge so they can perform their role in the workplace to the best of their ability. It lifts productivity and morale and that has got to be a good thing."

Christine Marshall, Executive Director of South West Food & Drink, added, "Whilst the land-based sector have access to public funding for skills training at this important, practical level, there is very little equivalent funding available to the seafood industry. This project helped to fill this gap.  It is great that such a variety of businesses benefitted from the training, which in turn will help the development of this sector."

Hilary Barrett, Assistant Technical Manager at Cornwall's largest processor Falfish commented, "Staff, who have been with the company for less than two years or are taking on new supervisory or managerial roles, completed the Seafood Quality training course led by Seafish Approved Instructor Adrian Barratt. Using samples of fish provided, it was interesting to learn how to assess, score and record detail accurately, relating to key quality indicators and to learn how age and handling affects the quality of the product. The course developed a further understanding of the chill chain and how to handle and look after fish.  Being able to quickly and efficiently record the quality of fish as it enters and leaves the factory as well as maximising its shelf-life, is essential to our business."

Training in Fish Filleting was delivered by Seafish approved trainer, Annie Sibert and focused on teaching basic skills such as skinning, filleting, steaking and boning round and flat fish. The Introduction to Fishmongery course, also delivered by Annie, was aimed at those developing new, or existing, retail seafood businesses. The course included topics on Health and Hygiene, Food Safety, Customer Service and Sales, Knife Skills and Seafood Quality.  There was also a practical session creating an effective fish counter display and an early morning visit to a fish market.

Simon Holman, who is in the process of establishing a new fishing company, Teach a Man to Fish in Portscatho, Cornwall, explained, "Both the fish filleting and fishmongery courses were really good and I would highly recommend them.  On the filleting course we improved our knife skills and learnt about using colour, texture and ice to make the fish display look good which I hadn't thought of.  It was also interesting visiting Newlyn Fish Market to see how the buyers bid for their fish, how it is graded and the effect of quality on price.  The courses will definitely help our business by enabling us to offer fish to suit the customer, whether filleted or not, which will add value and broaden our market."

Deborah Driver, the wife of a Brixham fisherman who is hoping to set up her own retail business, added, "As a fisherman's wife, I cook fish all the time but the course showed me some new techniques and how to fillet fish, a little more professionally.  The session on putting together an attractive fish display was brilliant.   It helped me think creatively about how to display fish, to attract customer's attention."

Julia Noon, the owner of Swanage Bay Fishmongers in Dorset, commented,  "The course was very informative and I've learnt a great deal to help my business, especially about fish quality.  It was fun and great to share experiences with other people about their seafood businesses, in fact one of my fellow participants has visited my shop to exchange further ideas.  I would recommend the course to others as it is really good value."

Lisa Osman from PROVISO catering in Dorset,  "Both members of the kitchen team thought the course instructor Annie Sibert had enthusiasm and passion beyond all expectations and this was complimented by her extensive commercial experience.  Annie was encouraging and knowledgeable and at the end of the day everyone felt they'd really learnt something worthwhile for their current job and future careers.
"I would have no hesitation to recommend this training programme or attend other courses run by Seafood Cornwall Training, as the initial benefit of improved staff morale, as well as the longer term improvement of knife handling, more than compensated for the initial outlay.  Equally it has encouraged the team to utilise species of fish that might have been overlooked before which will definitely benefit my business."

To find out more please call 01736 364324.



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