A group of aspiring young fish friers were invited to showcase their talent and fine-tune their frying skills at a KFE School of Frying Excellence Experience Day on Monday 8th January.
Six of the ten semi-finalists in this year’s Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year Award attended the event at KFE’s training school in Peterborough: Imogen Jones of JoJo’s Fish & Chips, James Ellams of Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove, Kieran Bulpit of Linfords, Imogen Atkinson of The Real Food Cafe, Jamie Russo of Redclock Fish Bar, and Glen Morrison of Garioch Fish Bar.
Award-winning operators and KFE trainers Gordon Hillan and Calum Richardson gave a masterclass on perfecting traditional fish and chips, while John Molnar, owner of The Cod’s Scallops, encouraged the young friers to think differently and utilise alternative species such as monkfish, cod cheeks and cockles. Watching on was reigning Young Fish Frier Charlie Collins and competition judge Mark Drummond.
After lessons ranging from sustainability, marketing and customer service to batter prep, fish cutting and oil management, the young friers were divided into two teams for a cook-off to test their existing skills and newly accrued knowledge.
Team one, comprising Imogen Jones, James and Jamie, put together griddled tuna on a garlic and vegetable stir fry, followed by breaded monkfish and cockle popcorn, while Glen, Imogen Atkinson and Kieran in team two devised Asian tuna tartare followed by a breaded and battered seafood platter, chips and homemade tartare sauce.
Team one gained praise for their creativity and forethought in listing allergens, but it was team two that clinched the win with their ingenuity and teamwork.
Paul Williams, Managing Director at KFE, comments: “The day was a great success and a fantastic platform for the talented young friers to showcase their skills and knowledge while opening their minds to fresh new ways to present fish and chips moving forward.”
“All six contenders are already working to a very high standard and we were extremely impressed with their skills in the practical. To come up with the dishes they did and deliver them to the standard that they did was outstanding and, I have to say, they produced some of the best food we’ve ever made here. All six young friers have promising careers ahead of them.”
James Ellams of Fish & Chips @ Weston Grove said the highlights of the day were having the opportunity to work with species of fish he doesn’t usually come across, and meeting the other Young Fish Frier finalists. He adds: “I feel like I’ve gained some very strong friendships. It was a real insight and amazing to be taught by three industry experts in John, Gordon and Calum.”
The evening before the KFE School of Frying Excellence Experience Day, KFE organised for the young friers to take part in an escape room to test their communication and team-building skills. A meal followed at teppanyaki restaurant Katana where everyone could get to know each other – and some even got behind the grill themselves!
This is the 12th year KFE has organised an event to support the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year Award, which was launched in 1995 by the late Briar Wilkinson to encourage more youngsters to take up a career in fish and chips.
The 2024 Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year winner will be announced at The National Fish & Chip Awards in London on Wednesday 28th February.