What Does Being A Fishmonger Really Mean To Me?

Good afternoon everyone. I hope you are all having a wonderful weekend?

My week has been pretty exciting to say the least! Monday and Tuesday was pretty much one of the best experiences I’ve had for my company. Entering the Fish Craft Championships, and winning the Seafish Industry Award last year is a different league altogether, but to be part of a team chosen to go and represent the whole company was an amazing feeling. I have to say it was a little nerve wracking to begin with, after all it was in the NEC arena, biggest fish counter I’ve ever worked on, and preparing and subsequently talking about fish in front of a combined total of just over 1300 people is abit of a trembler!

Anyway, my lovely friend Gavin, talked about the benefits of trained butchers and demonstrated preparing a Lamb Shoulder, my fellow girly fishmonger Nicola, stood on the stage canoeing Sea Bass and preparing mackerel. My other 2 girly fishmongers Manda and Lynda prepared and cooked fish and maintained the fabulous set up we’d all worked hard on.

I was very clever, or so I thought! I was the other side of the counter, thinking I was out of the way..until I was given the task of talking about being a trained fishmonger! Admittedly at the beginning with the first couple of groups I was nervous and didn’t really say much, but then the passion I have for being trained started to push through. So I stood and pocketed, filleted and cleaned Whole Plaice and Mackerel until it was my time to speak.

I tried to extol the virtues of colleagues who work on the fish counters in other stores being trained. I found myself telling all these managers, some whom I knew, that being trained was the best thing that I could have ever done, and not just for my company but also myself.

So, it brought it home to me. What does it really mean for me to be a trained fishmonger? I have talked about the training etc in my previous blogs, but overall what does it mean to me?

I never thought I’d be able to answer that question satisfactorily, and in fact maybe by the time I finish writing this blog, I’ll think of other reasons. My friend Mr James Portus says I must have sea salt in my veins!

I’ve decided that there must be a tiny little fishmonger button somewhere in my brain, and it was fully switched on when I started my training almost 3 years ago. I love projects, and if it really interests me, then there is no stopping me. For instance, I love the musical The Phantom Of The Opera. I’ve seen it countless times at the west end, I have memorabilia that is incredibly rare, and I still love it.

I have a new summer house, and I have so many plans for that! It’s the same with being a fishmonger. Every day I learn more. I learn an easier way to fillet Plaice, or a different angle to hold my knife to achieve a better yield. I set my display one way, then the next day I find another way of displaying a fillet or whole fish that looks better for the fish.

I go online and look at research that MSC are doing, or the Seafish training academy and look at the courses. I’ll watch videos on YouTube of Halibut or Salmon being filleted. Trawlermen put photos of their beautiful trawlers either in dock or out at sea and it fascinates me.

Being a fishmonger is a never ending learning experience.

Of course it’s amazing when customers come in and say that the counter looks lovely, or ask me to clean out a whole trout because last time it was beautiful and there were no bones, but even that teaches me more. You get to have a style of display you can make your own. Myself, Nicola, Manda and Lynda all have different ways of displaying their counter, but we all have the same aim. The girls do an outstanding job of their displays and quite rightly deserve praise.

My friend Gavin also does amazing fish displays. His counter is different than mine, it is smaller, but he does an amazing job each time in achieving his aim.

Having a customer come and tell you that the way you prepared their fish last time was spot on, teaches me something. Never rush a job preparing a fish. Take pride in what you are doing, almost as if you were going to buy the fish yourself.

Believe it or not, not every day I have is amazing! There are some days where something hasn’t gone right, or not all the fish has been delivered or preparing the fish hadn’t gone right. Or its just been that busy that as soon as my shift has ended I practically run off the counter (that doesn’t happen alot however!)

It has to be passion. Confidence, ability and knowledge builds up over time and carries on building, but first and foremost is passion. Wanting to learn more, wanting to practise preparing. It’s the wanting that leads you.

I’ve achieved unbelievable things. Just this year, being chosen to go to the NEC and work along with colleagues who are among my closest friends. I’m being presented with an award by the Fishermen’s Mission in April  (still can’t believe it!) I sat in on the National Federation Of Fishmongers AGM at Fishmongers Hall as an associate member in January. I’ll be taking part again in the British Fish Craft Championships in August in Cleethorpes. My aim there is to complete The Flatfish challenge, not to win it, just to complete it in the time is my aim!!! Then there is FishStock down in Brixham in September which I’m hoping to attend aswell. Almost forgot visiting Peterhead in June! Another dream achieved if I get to visit the fish market and meet some of the trawler men I follow on Twitter.

Sometimes I have a little worry if I sound big headed or some may think “oh, she’s on one again!” Or “can’t she shut up about fish?” At the end of the day I’m under no illusion that there are fishmongers better than me and ones who display their fish better than me. I know that if I hadn’t been sent for the fishmonger training in Wales, none of what I’ve experienced in the past 3 years would have been possible. If someone hadn’t have shown faith in me and my hidden abilities none of it would be possible.

I’m writing this blog after doing a very busy and challenging Saturday shift. Waking up at 4.30am to start my day at 6am and finish at 3pm. I’m covered in  scales after descaling Salmon and Whole Trout.

My muscles ache a little and I always have a little sigh when I sit down! My eyes feel heavy and I’m looking forward to a glass of wine and bed by about 9pm…BUT…I will never be anything other than a fishmonger. I will always feel passionate about what I do and fellow fishmongers throughout the country and feel proud of them.

All of that is what being a fishmonger means to me.

Please check out my fellow girly fishmongers displays on twitter @JaneRowbotha (Nicola Rowbotham) @mandawheeldon  (Manda Wheeldon)

Aswell as Gary, George and Olli Hooper @GCHfishmongers Bedford.

Also follow The Fishermen’s Mission on Twitter and Facebook@thefishmish @FishstockFest & @fishstock1 (Mr James Portus for all your FishStock festival information)

For amazing blogs please follow Mr Mike Warner @eastcoastavocet

For amazing photos and fishing information follow @Ajax_Hake & @buddingrose418 @buchanjimmy

Until next time buoys and gulls x


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