Some of the UK’s top emerging chef talent have visited Norway, the whitefish nation, on a trip organised by the Norwegian Seafood Council, and led by Seafood from Norway chef partners, Michel Roux and Simon Hulstone. The chefs have undertaken a discovery into why origin matters when it comes to sustainable seafood.
Visiting Norway’s cold, clear waters and the fishing communities that have remained the beating heart of the country for thousands of years has been a truly eye opening experience for many of the chefs, which include: Nikita Pathakji, MasterChef The Professionals 2022 Winner; Aled Williams, winner of the CHEF & Restaurant Magazine lockdown chef competition; Kyle Bowman, 2022 Sodexo Chef of the Year; and winners of the last four Young National Chef of the Year competitions – William Keeble, Edwin Kuk, Dan Cornish and Mae Dionio.
The chefs have been exploring the wild northern territory of Norway, taking a trip through harsh winter landscapes, visiting fiords and mountains to reach Tromsø, Honningsvåg and Skarsvåg, the world’s northernmost fishing village. The educational agenda gave a deep dive into Norway’s responsible fisheries management and quality measures, in addition to time with locals to understand how the seafood industry helps keep coastal communities thriving, especially in the far north.
The group were challenged to catch their own supper from cold, clear waters around Honningsvåg with local producer Cape Fish at the helm to explain the importance of quality, from catch to market. The catch of the day was then cooked over an open fire in a traditional lavvo by acclaimed Norwegian chef, Gunnar Jensen. With seasonal skrei flamed with garlic and tarragon, followed by red king crab with herb butter, smoked cod’s roe, and pan-fried cod’s liver, the chefs were treated and inspired by a host of traditional Nordic delicacies.
Norges Råfisklag, the Norwegian sales organisation for cod fish and shellfish, delivered educational talks along the way detailing Norway’s world-leading responsible fisheries management practices – from pioneering quotas, regulations and zero discard policies to diverse fishing fleets and investment in the latest research, equipment and technology.
Mae Dionio, winner of Young National Chef of the Year 2022 from Le Manoir aux Quat’Saisons commented, “It’s been really interesting to learn about the provenance and processing of seafood from Norway – often using the whole fish with minimal wastage. It was great to meet the owner of the boat and see the quality of Norway’s cod, which was incredible. I found it fascinating to see what they do with the whole fish, from the tongue and liver, to the flesh – how they fillet it is amazing. How the Norwegians use the roe has given me to some great ideas to take back to the UK.”
Michel Roux added: “The beauty of this particular trip was that we were finally able to take Young National Chef of the Year Competition Winners, who missed out due to Covid travel restrictions, to Norway – and it really did blow their minds. For me it was great to reconnect with the Norwegian fishermen and chefs and enjoy dishes like the Skrei Mølje – made with beautiful white and flaky steamed seasonal Norwegian cod, with lashings of roe and liver, boiled potatoes and chopped onion. It really doesn’t get much better than that, with the products really speaking for themselves. The young chefs have come home brimming with ideas to take back to their kitchens thanks to their experience trying such amazing produce.”
Whilst Victoria Braathen, UK Director for the Norwegian Seafood Council said: “It was a pleasure to welcome such a talented group of young chefs to Norway, the whitefish nation, and illustrate first-hand why origin matters when it comes to sustainable seafood. Being able to demonstrate Norway’s pioneering stock management and wild fishing processes is always a real eye opener for those that haven’t visited our fishing communities before, and the group were able to enjoy cooking and tasting our fresh seafood right at source, from our seasonal cod to haddock, salmon and red king crab. In the words of our chef partner, Michel Roux, “the proof is always in the eating!”