Llandudno fish merchant helps students serve up the catch of the day

25 February 2014

A Llandundo fish merchant passed on his carefully honed skills to the culinary experts of tomorrow when he hosted a fish filleting masterclass at Coleg Llandrillo.

Wayne Jones, of Mermaid Seafoods Ltd, shared his expertise and experiences from more than 18 years in the seafood industry with hospitality and catering students at the college’s Rhos on Sea campus.

Wayne, who started working at the family-owned fish merchant when he was just 12 years old, was invited to the college by Cywain Fisheries, a Menter a Busnes added value project that raises the profile of Welsh fish.

Students on the Pathways to Apprenticeships programme, an intensive one year course that provides essential culinary skills, were shown how to fillet a variety of fish species, from traditional favourites such as trout, plaice and sea bass to more unusual seafood including Norwegian red fish and lobster.

As well as demonstrating how to prepare ten varieties of fish, 32-year-old Wayne also gave the students a chance to put their new culinary skills into practice.

Wayne said: “Fish filleting is a very difficult thing to do at high speed. If you’re just preparing one fish you can take all the time in the world to make the most of what you have, but for the catering and fisheries industry, you need to be fast.

“It takes time to really get these skills right, but it’s well worth it. I can cleanly fillet two fish a minute, and easily prepare more than 100 in an hour. On a busy day, you can fillet 300 to 400 fish in one sitting – you just keep going until the order is complete.

“A lot of it is self-taught – the only qualification I got was out at sea. That’s why this was a rare opportunity for the students, as there’s not many people with these skills around.

“Chefs used to have all of these culinary skills. They would have to be a butcher, a fishmonger, a baker and lots else rolled into one, but now a lot of the preparation is done for them.

“The key is making the most of what you’ve got, minimising the amount of waste, and I’m proud to be passing on these skills.

“We’ve got some fantastic local fish, particularly during the summer months, and hopefully the students will take away these skills and information and put them to good use in the future.”

As well as its work providing support and mentoring to Welsh seafood businesses, Cywain Fisheries is committed to supporting the future prosperity of seafood in Wales, and last year launched the Welsh Fish Campaign with the support of Michelin star chef Bryan Webb.

The project is funded through the European Fisheries Fund with match funding from the Welsh Government. 

Brian Hansen, hospitality and catering co-ordinator at Coleg Llandrillo, said: “We were particularly pleased to have Wayne Jones from Mermaid Seafood present a masterclass in fish filleting for our Pathways to Apprenticeship (PTA) students.

“The PTA professional chef training course is an intensive professional skills based programme, and this was a great opportunity for the students to learn from an industry professional who is an expert in his field."

For more information on Welsh Fish visit www.menterabusnes.co.uk/cywainpysgod.  If you would like to access support from Cywain Fisheries email caroline.dawson@menterabusnes.co.uk or call 01745 770272.

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