Hot on the heels of the Hankyu British Fair in Japan, it was home and straight into preparations for the Shetland Food Fair for Frankie’s Carlyn Kearney
I had only been back a day or so before I was getting ready for our next outing, this time much closer to home at the Shetland Food Fair, an annual celebration of Shetland's finest produce. Thankfully we are blessed with great staff at Frankie’s, so most of the work organising what we were going to sell and what we were going to cook had already been done.
But if I thought I was going to have a quiet, restful weekend, I was sadly mistaken!
We are strong advocates of the use of local, sustainably sourced food, reflected in the MSC status we hold for haddock, smoked haddock, crab, king scallops and mussels, and in our maximum three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association
So it was great to see so many other local businesses at the fair, held in the huge main games hall of the Clickimin Leisure Complex, trading in local and sustainable produce.
I met and had a good laugh with renowned chef Tony Singh, who had been invited to open the fair, before it was down to work.
Over the weekend our cooked mixed seafood taster box, honey and chilli mussels, pan-fried crab claws in garlic butter and pan-seared scallops in a fennel and Cointreau cream sauce went down very well.
We also had on sale a range of cold products, including haddock and smoked haddock fish cakes, a monkfish stir fry and dressed brown crab, for visitors to take home and cook for themselves.
In addition, the fair marked the launch of our own Frankie’s Finest Batter mix, specially made by Middleton Foods
after a visit to the shop by the company’s sales manager, Ryan Baker.
This product sold well and we had interest from local shops who were keen to stock it.
Star of the show for Frankie’s, however, was my colleague Brian Kennedy, who performed for the first time in the food theatre, cooking a magnificent paella made with local seafood. It’s fair to say that both Brian and his food went down very well among the audience.
During my time at the Shetland Food Fair, I reflected that while the number of businesses now selling local, sustainable produce is growing, threats are always just around the corner from government and the regulatory authorities.
The fishermen with whom we work closely face a very nervous time over the next few years as the ban on discarding fish at sea is introduced for whitefish and shellfish like lobsters, langoustines and prawns .
None of the fishermen we know are anything other than disgusted at having to throw back perfectly healthy fish, so the principle of a ban is something few of them would contest.
However, the practicalities of such a ban are incredibly complicated, and the risk to perfectly good businesses on which an island like ours depend — one-third of the local economy is made up of fishing and aquaculture — remains very high.
So far, lobbying by fishermen has succeeded in delaying the introduction of the ban for certain species, but more concessions need to be made.
All of us who love fish and chips should be concerned about this issue, and if you get the opportunity why not raise the very potentially dangerous unintended consequences of the discard ban with your MSP or MP?
We believe in sustainability, and the trend towards this in the fishing fleet is very positive, so punishing fishermen would be a travesty. Let’s make sure that common sense prevails.