Matthew Stevens sourcing trip – written by apprentice Jenni Burton
My name is Jenni, I have recently been accepted on to the programme, I’ve been working in the kitchen for about three weeks now and it’s really great! All the activities outside of the kitchen work are proving to be exceptionally informative as well as greatly enjoyable! This month we visited the Newlyn Fish Market and Matthew Steven’s Fish Merchants here is my blog:
It was an early start, we were at the Market by 6:30am and greeted by Matthew Stevens, who was kind enough to show us around the market and the auctions that take place there. We had to rush into the market as the auctions can take place very quickly. We walked into the big warehouse where the fish are delivered straight off the boats to be sorted and graded by species and weight. The fish are packed into bright red containers on top of ice to ensure they are kept as fresh as possible and placed on the floor in groups.
There were plenty of people bustling about in the cold room. Some were huddled around the boxed produce and others were sorting them as the fish were being bought, ready to be properly stored for transporting to their new location. An auctioneer stands at the head of the gathering and takes bids. It was exciting to see all the business men shouting their prices out in a battle to win their desired item. The buyers that frequent the market are often local suppliers that have orders they must fulfil to sell to any establishments they are associate with.
After the auction we had time to walk around the harbour. It was very calm and quiet at Newlyn and the harbour looked peaceful in the early morning. We could see many boats were stationed, some being prepared for their next fishing trip and the rest gently swaying in the water after what may have been a long journey out.
Mr Steven’s explained to us about the different types of fishing boats that could be found at the harbour. Commercial fishing is extremely expensive; from the money it costs to buy the boats to the equipment that is needed in order to perform their jobs as effectively as possible.
Generally crab traps are sold at £60 each, the ring nets that the day boats require cost £30,000 and to fully refurbish a boat it can cost around £700,000! Along with all the cost of workers and the price of diesel it is crucial for fishermen to ensure they produce a fruitful career. Limitations have been set to the amount of fish they may catch. These limitations are known as quotas and are set up by the EU which is generally granted to commercially profiting fishermen. The quotas have been set up in order to preserve the reducing sea life. Mr Stevens expressed, with great passion, the need for the regulations that have been set in place. He understands completely that without the precautions (that are being enforced within the fishing industry) there soon would be no fish for the trade that his family have been a part of for generations. He ensures quality fish with as little harm to the environment as possible by only purchasing legitimate produce.
After we explored the harbour Mr Stevens generously offered to take us for a bite to eat, which gave us time to reflect on all that we had learnt there. We had a lovely breakfast at The Fisherman’s Mission, thank you so much! All fuelled up on breakfast we were ready to head out to Mr Steven’s factory.
Upon arriving we were asked into an office to fill in health and hygiene documents and received white coats, hats and bag shoes to adhere to the strict rules that are set in place within the factory. The factory is sectioned into three main departments; fish, shellfish and crustaceans. The fish are sorted and prepared to the buyer’s specification. The sale items are prepared, packaged and delivered to the clients from the factory.
The employees show amazing knife skills, even when working with the much larger fish. We witnessed a gigantic cod being filleted; the workman took a mere four strokes of his knife to remove the flesh!
Mr Stevens has been one of the restaurant’s seafood suppliers for years. He is one of the Foundation’s biggest supporters, offering students a chance to get a personal view of how the factory operates.
The day was awesome and I’m grateful to Karl, Matt and Matthew for taking us out for such an enriching experience- thank you!