The North of Tyne Fisheries Local Action Group (FLAG) has joined forces with a Newcastle-based food NGO to deliver a programme designed to inspire trainee chefs to use locally caught seafood.
Food Nation, a leading food and nutrition social enterprise that works to inform disadvantaged communities about the benefits of good food through practical and innovative food education activities. Identifying a decline in training related to fish and seafood careers and low public demand for seafood, Food Nation have partnered with the North of Tyne Flag to provide new supply chains from local fishermen to restaurants and encourage trainee chefs to think creatively about the seafood they use and to embrace currently under-utilised species, supporting the areas small-scale fishermen and relieving pressure on the more popular, and heavier-fished, species such as cod.
The focal point of the project is Food Nation’s very own Newcastle-based restaurant, Harissa, where young trainee chefs are taught to identify, buy, prepare and sustainability use local seafood. The programme allows these chefs to work with industry experts to develop experimental dishes and build up to a “kitchen takeover” event where they can use the locally caught seafood and new dishes to have full control of the restaurant’s menu. Utilising their new knowledge of and experience of seafood, the chefs are then encouraged to explore “street food” opportunities at festivals and events where they can bring these under-utilised fish and new dishes to the public, providing low cost opportunities for consumers to try these species.
Joanna Lacey, Head of Social Delivery at Food Nation explained “This project offers young aspiring chefs a fantastic opportunity to broaden and expand their skills. At the same time, the ‘street food’ element of the initiative allows consumers to experience seafood they would otherwise not be exposed to. It brings together both ends of the market, increasing demand through consumer exposure and interaction, while at the same, encouraging the chefs of tomorrow to put more seafood on local restaurant menus.”