As one of the five 2017 Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year finalists, Elise Boothroyd of Fochabers Fish Bar in Moray, Scotland, had the opportunity to visit the premises of three leading suppliers to the fish and chip shop industry
Early December saw all five Young Fish Frier of the Year finalists heading to Hull where we attend three factory visits - AAK Oil Refinery, Smale’s Fish Merchants and Kerry Foodservices - 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.
On the first day we visited AAK which processes and refines frying oil. Its premises are huge and during our tour we saw demonstrations on how the oil is decanted from large ocean tankers onto the site before undergoing 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 before learning about the make-up of different types of fats and oil and the work that 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 which sells frozen at sea fish to fish and chip shops throughout the UK. We found out about the proud history of its business, a little bit about the trawlers who supply the fish it distributes as well as how frozen at sea fish is caught, processed and frozen within six hours. Our tour finished with a very cold visit to the cold-store, which at -29 degrees it 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 rounded 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 Foodservice’s flour mill where we were given an insight into the history of the business, its 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, all of which we got to explore as the tour took us through all the different stages, giving us the opportunity to see the wheat along its journey. Just like the AKK factory, Kerry pays 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 its batter mixes, which were expertly cooked by our two hosts, Richey and Dave.
I would encourage anyone who is in this business between the ages of 16 and 25 to enter the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year 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.