This year, for the first time ever, Black's chippy is proud to announce that we have an entrant into the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year awards! Junior fryer and long term staff member Brett Coulton has entered the competition and been accepted through to the interview stage! The competition is widely supported by the fish and chip industry and the young friers are frequently invited to industry events. The first of these was a general invitation to attend a training day at the KFE School of Frying Excellence in Market Deeping near Peterborough. KFE is a prominent name in range manufacture and fitting, and runs one of the most popular training programs in the industry. Here is what Brett had to say about the experience:
I caught the train down to Peterborough from Lancaster on the day before the training session. KFE had laid on a meal for everyone at a local restaurant so we could network and get to know each other. I had steak and chips as I thought I might be getting plenty of seafood the next day!
The training session started at 9am in the incredible School of Frying Excellence. The space includes prep areas, a professional grill and two high efficiency frying ranges. We were formally introduced to our award winning trainers; Mark Petrou, Nigel Hodgson, Callumn Richardson and Gary Rosser. Gary talked to us about the wide range of fish that is commonly available to British Seafood restaurants and take-aways. I am used to frying a broad selection of fish at Black's Chippy as part of our specials menu. Whilst I was familiar was Cod, Haddock, Plaice, Hake and Pollock, I did learn a lot about other species such as Monk fish, Lobster and Muscles. We were shown best practice methods for making batter, assessing the freshness of a fish and how to cut a fish to a suitable frying weight.
There were demonstrations on frying and grilling techniques by the instructors. I was fascinated by cooking on the grill, which is a method used more by seafood restaurants than chip shops. The essential lesson was that the best quality meal depended on only exposing the fish to 'clean' areas of the grill top. Also care had to be taken not to press the flesh of the fish into the heat of the grill as this causes moisture and flavor to be lost during cooking. The demonstrations on range frying were interesting as the KFE Kiremko and Perfecta ranges were new high efficiency models. They use less gas than a traditional range and have built in fire suppression and oil filtration systems.
In the afternoon we were separated into blue and green teams for a cook off! The first challenge was to prepare fish and chips on the range. Our team produced crispy chips and a lightly battered Pollock. The second challenge was to prepare a grilled fish with side salad, restaurant style. We were praised for a sweet moist fish and a flavorsome salad.
The whole experience was brilliant, and very educational. There is always something to learn and something new to try with fish and chips. I've come away with some recipes for homemade fish cakes and homemade tartar sauce which I'm planning on making for the chippy in Halton. The next stage of the interview process for the Drywite Young Fish Fryer of the Year Award is coming up next week. I'm really hoping that I can show off some of my new knowledge in support of entry. I'm very proud to have my KFE School of Frying Excellence certificate on display in the chippy. Wish me luck in the competition and look out for my homemade dishes on the specials menu board!