Early December saw all five Young Fish Frier of the Year finalists heading to Hull where we were to attend 3 factory visits hosted by the competition sponsor, Drywite. The visits were aimed at giving an insight into how some of the products we use on a daily basis are sourced, manufactured and distributed throughout the UK. The three companies we visited were AAK Oil Refinery, Smale’s Fish Merchants and Kerry foodservices.
On the first day we visited AAK who process and refine frying oil. Their premises are huge and during our tour we saw demonstrations on how the oil is decanted from large ocean tankers onto the site and then both the refining and deodorising stages. We got to see employees testing and sampling the product at various stages ensuring the highest level of quality is maintained. We were also taken to see the machinery that packages the final product prior to distribution. The final part of the visit was spent learning about the make-up of different types of fats and oil and how much work goes into making the products we use as healthy as possible. It was very interesting to see the many processes and stages the product goes through before it is ready for distribution and the lengths that AKK go to, to ensure quality of product.
In the afternoon we headed over to Smales Fish Merchants who sell frozen at sea fish to fish and chip shops throughout the UK. We found out about the proud history of their business and a little bit about the trawlers who supply them with the fish they distribute. We learned that frozen at sea fish is caught, processed and frozen within 6 hours. Our tour was finished off with a very cold visit to their cold-store, which at -29 degrees was fair to say we were all frozen to the bone when we had finished. To see a freezer of that size and the many different fish species and cuts available was incredible.
The evening was finished off with a lovely meal which gave the finalists a chance to find out a bit more about each other and you can guess what the bulk of the conversation was about… Fish and Chips of course.
The next day we travelled to Gainsborough to visit Kerry’s flour mill where we were taught about the history of the business, it’s products and its employees and about the sourcing of the wheat they use. The mill is on a massive site and is housed in a building many stories high, during the tour we saw the different stages carried out at each level and got the chance to see the wheat at every stage. Just like the AKK factory, Kerry paid a lot of attention to product quality from initial delivery to final product packaging. We finished off our visit with a chance to sample some of their batter mixes which were expertly cooked by our 2 hosts, Richey and Dave.
I would encourage anyone who is in this business between the ages of 16 and 25 to enter the young fish friers competition. It’s a great way to meet like-minded, passionate young people and a fantastic opportunity to get an insight into our great industry through many well organised trips.
By Elise Boothroyd – Fochabers Fish Bar