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Malachy Mallon at the Dolphin Takeaway, Dungannon has an ongoing learning partnership in place with South West College.

Inspiring young fish friers

Since September 2014 he has been working voluntarily in partnership with SWC catering departments to help inspire our young fish friers of the future. The students had already gained specialist skills through the Dolphin’s fish frying master classes and frying assessments at the College and also were encouraged to put their research and development talents into commercial practice with a fish cake recipe competition. Malachy felt that a ‘fish finding’ field trip to Kilkeel Harbour, home of Northern Ireland largest fishing fleet, would be the perfect culmination to the term and the ‘Fish - from Fleet to Fork’ event was the result.

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"The group ‘selfie’ taken at the harbor at the close of the event caught the mood perfectly, with lots of smiles, laughter and camaraderie!"

As well as getting up close and personal with a variety of locally-landed fish species, the South West College students took full advantage of opportunities to grill local fishermen, fish processors and industry professionals. The students discovered how fish and seafood is landed, prepared, processed and packaged at the Seasource and Rooney Fish factories. 

The superb Nautilus Centre exhibition helped them explore the story of our local fishing history and Kilkeel’s rich maritime heritage. Dr Lynn Gilmore opened their eyes to the importance of sustainable and responsible fish sourcing and TV chef, Raymond McArdle taught the students how to identify, prepare and cook sea fish professionally with fine dining cookery demonstrations, while Malachy Mallon from the Dolphin, gave advice and insights from the takeaway industry perspective.

It was evident that the students thoroughly enjoyed and really embraced the whole learning experience, many had not seen such a wide range fish and seafood species before and showed great interest, from fleet to fork, asking lots questions during the factory tours, talks and cookery demonstrations. You could see that they had a new-found appreciation for seafood, the journey it takes and the many valuable roles played by people in the industry to get it to plate in perfect condition. Some even got over their very evident fear of live crabs and lobsters – with just a few tiny yelps and squeals - and learned how to handle them like a boss!

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The group ‘selfie’ taken at the harbor at the close of the event caught the mood perfectly, with lots of smiles, laughter and camaraderie! The fine dining seafood cookery demonstrations with celebrity chef Raymond McArdle in particular captured the catering students’ imaginations and it was a lovely touch that Dr Lynn Gilmore also talked about the species as they were being cooked. They came away armed with new knowledge, skills and a passion for seafood which will serve them well in their education, exams and careers. 

It most definitely was a memorable day and undoubtedly one which the students will carry forward with them in the future.