Well, this is the blog I’ve been meaning to write since the first day of the show! What an incredible experience and one I’m honoured to be taking part in and representing the company I work for, both in the fishmongering I and Nicola do in store and help in showcasing what retail fishmongers are capable of doing. I’m also very proud of Gavin as our master butcher and assistant in talking to the audience during the fishmongering demonstrations.
I originally intended on writing a blog after each days event. At the end of the first day I knew that wasn’t going to happen! It was quite literally overwhelming. Both my friends Nicola and Gavin had already done The Royal Cornwall Show, as I was already up in Scotland at the same time, on holiday in Peterhead visiting the trawlers, Fish Market and meeting amazing fishermen. I have to admit I was extremely nervous that first day. It wasnt until I saw the sheer size of just the car park fields that I realised the magnitude of the event. It was a fair walk each day to and from our Tesco Marquee, and we got to see the amount of stalls and events all showcasing the best of Scotland, from Tartan and Tweeds, to fine artisan foods and beautiful coastal paintings and literally everything in between. We smiled at young farmers who were getting their sheep ready for showcasing to the public, walked past beautiful horses in their paddocks for the show events in the grounds. Whatever you could possibly think of to showcase the very best of Scotland’s agricultural heritage, it was there.
We eventually arrived at our marquee. It was huge. The whole crew was amazing. It took me about 30mins to get know everyone in the team and it felt almost like a little family. Everyone was so welcoming and we all knew our roles. I followed Nicolas’ lead as she already had an idea what to do after being at Cornwall and we got to work. The theme of the event is working with experts in their field. Every single person there has their passion, whether that be to get every thing running smoothly, getting the food tasters ready, the sampling ready at the front for the public and be able to share that with the visitors who came to see us.
Martyn and Sophie, our two chefs, had everything ready to cook up amazing recipes for the cookery demonstrations, to see just what customers can do with the produce that they buy from us in Tesco. Then we have Gavin, who is not only a fantastic ambassador for butchers in store, but who also has a family history of butchery and farming. In every Butchery Masterclass, he taught the crowd (and they were crowds) about different cuts of meat, the technical skills of butchery and even how to tell when your steak is cooked right. I am very proud of Gavin and the skills he showcases, not just in events like these, but also for his customers in his Falkirk Store. Not only that but he is an award-winning Butcher and Fishmonger, winning awards for both at The British Fish Craft Championships.
Now to the fishmongering side! I already felt extremely honoured as I said at the start of this blog to have even been asked to take part in these events. As everyone who reads my blogs will know, being a fishmonger and being involved with the fishing industry is my passion. To be very honest with you, I wouldn’t consider myself an expert. I have been a fishmonger 3 years this year. In fact I began my training in Wales just 3 years ago this month. I’ve worked alongside fishmongers at both FishStock festival and the British Fish Craft Championships, and I consider those to be experts. Ladies and gentlemen who have been fishmongering for longer than I’ve even been alive, who can fillet in mere seconds. They are experts. I am just fortunate enough to have a burning passion to learn, to practice, and to work hard at a career that reaps so many benefits for me and given me so many wonderful opportunities and memories in just a very short time.
From winning The Seafish Industry Cup last year at The Fish Craft Championships, helping out at the Fishstock Festival, being awarded the Fishermens Mission Twitter award to meeting amazing men and women involved in the fishing industry, just so many amazing benefits. So, to then be working alongside my best friend Nicola is just a sheer joy. Both of us have an unending desire and passion for this industry. Nicola does the most beautiful displays with her fish counter in Manchester. They are a work of art with fish and it’s not just me who thinks that either. Nicola is also an award-winning fishmonger who won the Charlie Caisey Award for best newcomer at the Fish Craft Championships.
By the end of the first day, we both had a reputation for infectious laughing, constantly smiling and not being without the other! We both set up a small display counter for fish, just to give the public an idea of what they can see if they come to our counters. We also had a demonstration to do. Whole Salmon prepping was a good pull for our audience, especially as it was Scottish Salmon. I love working on flat fish, so we prepared some of those in our demonstrations as well as Whole Trout. Gavin did a commentary for both of our demonstrations, letting the customers know just what they can expect if they come to our counters and really not to be afraid of either asking for fish to be prepared a certain way or just asking for advice.
The second day of the event was a personal highlight for me. I already knew that Mr Jimmy Buchan would be there doing a cooking demonstration with langoustines and other beautiful fish and he came along to see us! Thankfully after my fishmongering demonstration, would have been slightly daunting knowing he was watching as a skipper, fisherman and aspiring chef, who just so happened to have been on an award-winning TV series!! Myself, Gavin and Nicola repaid the complement by visiting him doing his cooking demonstrations with the most beautiful Monkfish, Langoustines and Paella Jimmy Buchan Style I’ve ever tasted!
Another highight was a little boy coming to visit us with his mother. He was fascinated with the fish display. In the end it was an Farm To Fork session for 1, he had a pair of gloves on, holding Sardines, talking about the different fish and even had me take an eye out of a Megrim Sole!! He was outstanding and gave both me and Nicola a boost for what we do.
At the end of every day, we were tired. Every day was a long day, but we worked hard. Working together as a whole team made every day fly and felt so proud of what we do, not just for the Highland Show or the next two shows to go in Yorkshire and Wales, but for our customers each and every day, in each and every store from Scotland to Cornwall, from Stoke On Trent to Manchester and every store in between.
Am I proud to be a passionate fishmonger? I can’t imagine being anything else. Am I proud to be trying to educate my customers and there by teaching myself in the process? Of course. Am I excited about travelling the country helping to showcase the industry? Ok, thats a rhetorical question really!!
A massive well done to every single person on the Tesco Team, whether they be the local in store colleagues, to the crew behind the scenes making everything run smoothly.
Here’s to the next two shows, Yorkshire and Wales.