Diners at the various Seafood Pub Company locations recently enjoyed a special treat in the form of a huge halibut. The fish, weighing a hefty 72kg, was caught on Shetland and delivered to the Fleetwood base of seafood specialist Chris Neve, father of company founder and Managing Director Joycelyn. With Joycelyn and Executive Chef Mark Taft in attendance, Chris filleted the halibut into 200 portions for swift dispatch to the venues across Lancashire and Yorkshire. What happened next? Mark explains:
“I decided to run a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ contest to encourage creativity amongst our chefs, with the most innovative winning a selection of knives for their kitchen.’’
The chefs clearly rose to the challenge, producing a range of heavenly halibut dishes to tickle the tastebuds of diners across all Seafood Pub Company establishments. John Herd, of The Fleece at Addingham, took first prize for his Madras-spiced halibut, served with red lentil dhal, roasted cauliflower and fennel bhaji.
Second place went to Lee Unthank of The Inn at South Stainley, in recognition of his butter-poached halibut with split-pea dhal, pickled romanesco and mint yoghurt. Vicky Melling, of Town Green Brasserie, Aughton, came third with her pan-fried halibut, crispy gnocchi, girolle mushroom, shrimp and tarragon butter.
As well as taking delivery of their new knives, the winners – along with other deserving chefs in the group – accompanied Mark on a visit to Chris Neve at Fleetwood docks. Chris took them to the harbour and showed them the day’s catch. The chefs also took advantage of the opportunity to attend a fish auction, gaining valuable insight into the pricing of different fish. The Seafood Pub Company is committed to supporting its staff in ongoing training and Mark and his chefs found the day a most worthwhile experience.
‘’The knowledge gained inspired everyone and will stand us all in good stead for the future. The halibut sparked some extremely innovative dishes and, armed with their fresh knowledge, I have no doubt that our chefs will continue to push back the boundaries of creativity.’’