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Seafood from Norway’s Inspiration Day unites award-winning operators

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Seafood from Norway has hosted an Inspiration Day for the winners of this year’s National Fish & Chip Awards as well as some of this year’s shortlisted Young Fish Friers of the Year.

Celebrating the successes of the wider industry and exploring innovative thinking around the future of fish and chips, the event took place at Westminster Kingsway College on Wednesday15th May with Seafood from Norway chef ambassador Michel Roux before heading to the Norwegian Ambassador’s Residence for a reception.

Head lecturer at Westminster Kingsway College José Souto and his colleague Paul Jervis, head of school, started the morning by offering insight into the college’s strong focus on provenance and sustainability within the curriculum to train the future generation of hospitality and the longstanding seafood partnership with Norway. 

Taking the group on a guided tour of the college, they were able to see the energy and commitment from the students who hope to forge a career in hospitality. Norwegian seafood species were discussed in a demonstration from Souto, where the group enjoyed delicious smoked Norwegian fish prepared by the students on site. 

An insights session followed, presented by NSC consumer analyst Lars Moksness, which explored the evolving consumer attitudes and key trends that are shaping the future of seafood, with many of the most pertinent insights taken from NSC’s annual consumer trends report.  

Lars was joined by a number of industry specialists including Josette Foster, regional director at the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF), Nick Miller, co-owner of Millers Fish & Chips and Stelios Theocharous, director at World of Ceres, to share their experience of how these reflections play out in reality. 

Key takeaways from the session included:  

·                     Recognition that challenging times globally over the last few years are changing consumer dining habits and that operators need to continue adapting their out of home offer to meet evolving demands. 

·                     The growing demand for transparency from consumers means we need to find more ways to tell them about where their food is from with better labelling – using technology such as QR codes to give more information at point of sale is incredibly useful. Having a digital presence and connecting with their consumers on social media is also important.  

·                     Health is increasingly on the agenda. As a lean, nutritious protein choice seafood perfectly meets increased health consciousness among consumers. There is also a growing demand for natural, less processed food aligning with the broader focus on health and wellness.  

·                     Innovation and technology is fast changing how we produce, harvest, manage and sell seafood, increasing the traceability of the entire process. From smart aquaculture technologies and hyper-intelligent fish management, through to AI helping to address issues arounds sourcing. There are also significant opportunities in putting this technology to use to educate consumers and bring them along on the journey from ocean to plate.  

·                     Putting innovative takes on seafood dishes inspired by global flavours on fish and chip shop menus can help create interest and generate a talking point. 

Following this, a reception was held by the Norwegian Ambassador to the UK, Tore Hattrem, who praised the winners for their contributions to the sector. He commented: “As a proud supplier of sustainable seafood to the UK we are delighted to celebrate the iconic dish of fish and chips and what the dish and industry brings with it. Jobs, commitment, local communities and enjoyment – it unites us all. Coming together is a valuable opportunity to celebrate our long-standing seafood relationship with UK partners and the many talented, dedicated fish and chip operators across the nation.” 

A Seafood from Norway luncheon and sharing session with Michel Roux and Andrew Crook, president of the NFFF, rounded off the day.  

Here, Andrew shared his take on the future of the fish and chip and hospitality industry, as well as reflections on the inspiring young talent coming through in the sector, urging them to take advantage of every opportunity thrown their way.  

Encouraging the fish and chip winners to stay true to their roots, and their values while at the same time not being afraid to modernise and be open to new opportunities – from new ingredients through to varying species – Michel continued sharing from his many years of working with and travelling to Norway.  

Michel said: “Norway offers some fantastic seafood. I’ve been fortunate to go traveling there from an early age, getting to know the people, exploring the country’s rich fishing heritage and quality seafood. The whole ethos and understanding, and respect of the sea and seafood is evident from ocean to plate and beautiful to see.”  

On concluding the Inspiration Day, Victoria Braathen, NSC UK director, commented: “We’re thrilled to have brought together the NF&CA winners for such an illuminating day of sharing and celebrating their well-deserved wins this year. We look forward to further cementing our partnership with the winners at this year’s study trip where they will experience firsthand how delicious Norwegian cod and haddock – loved by UK friers and consumers alike – is responsibly harvested from Norway’s cold, clear waters.”  

The winners will reunite again in June when they embark on a study trip to Norway courtesy of Seafood from Norway, sponsors of The National Fish & Chip Awards.

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