The following little series of blogs will hopefully answer that title question. Of course, this is just my point of view, but one I am very passionate about.
As any reader of my blogs will know, I am a gold merit trained fishmonger and extremely proud of it. The amount of hard work which goes into the training is indeed hard, but very rewarding which also reflects the day to day work of being a fishmonger.
When I’m doing an “early”shift, my alarm is set for 4.30am for a 6am start and a fresh from scratch counter. For a late shift, I know by 8pm, everything has to be closed down safely, legally and left literally sparkling clean ready for it to be set up all over again on the next day. But what you put into the training and the work itself,you reap the rewards.
With anything in life you get out of it what you put in. I smile as I realise that through my whold education and subsequent career, if I enjoy something and I’m working towards a result, I go an extra step. In primary school we were asked to write a page on a Tudor monarch, I enjoyed it so much I did a whole profile on Henry 8th, did a time line of ancestors and drawings of each monarch. In senior school, in English class we were asked to write the starting chapter of our own novel, I wrote a complete novel. During my Fishmonger training, I was required to complete a portfolio. My portfolio expanded into the booklet and a whole lever arch file full of research and even though it was completed almost 2 years ago, I still add to it. I know I am not alone in this regard.
There are many in the fish industry from skippers to suppliers and fishermen to fishmongers who go that extra mile. The whole industry is built and expands on the passion, innovation, hard work and effort during every step of the way from the sea to the customers plate.
If no one had a passion for it, the work would still be done, but maybe not at the rate that it does. Companies such as FlatFish in Grimsby and The Marine Stewardship Council push constantly for the best. Fishmongers all over the country push and strive for better and better from themselves or else there would be no British Fish Craft Championships. I have friends literally all over the country from Scotland to Cornwall who are retail fishmongers and independent fishmongers, but we all strive for the same goal. The customer who comes to the counter, should leave happy.
It might surprise people to know that, at the moment at least, there is no recognised qualification for fishmongers and really begs the question:
Why is it important for Fishmongers to be qualified and recognised?
As a retail fishmonger with aspirations to be an independent fishmonger, I see nothing other than benefits to being both trained and qualified. I have 4 certificates on the wall by the fish counter and I am proud of them being there. It shows to the customers that “hang on a minute, maybe retail fishmongers can fillet, skin and prepare fish just as well as an independent.” Again, I’m not alone in this. My retail fishmonger friends and colleagues are in the same position and have a good many more certificates on their wall.
Aswell as being an indication to the customer that there are trained fishmongers, the certificate also serves as a reminder of your own ability. There are difficult days in the job, just as there are in every job and from time to time it is good to have that reminder that yes you are trained, you know what you are doing, you can’t be perfect every time, crack on and get the job done.
There are so many components to being a fishmonger. You can train to fillet and prepare fish and shellfish, not really dive into the knowledge aspect and still be an amazing fishmonger. I actually achieved a better result on the knowledge aspect of my training than the practical at the time of my assessment. I achieved 97% on my portfolio work, I researched demersal and pelagic, seasonality of fish, why sustainability is important, fishing methods, Torrey Scale, health benefits and allergic properties. I still scored over 80% on my practical, but I knew I could have done better, just nerves on the day. 2 Fish Craft Championships under my belt and I know that my filleting and prepping is better and therefore a much more confident fishmonger.
In the next blog I’ll outline what I think the benefits are and the reputation which could be gained from having trained and qualified fishmongers.
If you have any comments or questions then please feel free to ask me and I am always grateful if you share or retweet my blogs. Thank you for reading.