George Hooper made history when he was named the youngest ever champion of the British Fish Craft Championships in 2015.
We asked him to share his secrets to becoming a great fishmonger.
Here are his top 10 tips:
Never stop learning
There is so much to know about fish that you should never stop learning. The knowledge that you develop is one of my favourite things about being a fishmonger. You need a passion for this job and a desire to keep learning.
You need to be prepared to work hard. It’s very important. It’s long hours and hard work, but it’s all worth it. All the effort pays off and you get a real sense of satisfaction at the end of the day.
Communicate with your customers
Being able to communicate with your customers is crucial. Knowing what they want and being able to offer them the service that they need is a really important part of the job. It’s a great feeling when a customer comes in asking for something and when they return you are able to give them it and deliver exactly what they have wanted. It also makes it far more likely that they’ll come back.
Learn from the best
I’ve been really lucky to have been surrounded by some of the best fishmongers around. I’ve learned so much from them. It’s made a massive difference to my development. Learning from others who have been in industry longer than you is vital. They have the experience and it really helps with developing your skills and becoming a better fishmonger.
Setting high standards for yourself is really important. Being professional and offering the best services you can to your customers will give them confidence in you. It shows them that you take your job seriously and that they can rely on you.
Learn from experts cross the industry
We work with restaurants and I am involved in the buying side of things too, both of which gives me the opportunity to meet people from different parts of the business and find out things from their perspectives. It’s a great way for me to learn more about them and how they approach things. It’s another way that you can learn from other people.
Love what you do
It’s so important that you enjoy what you do, and that’s definitely the case with fishmongering. The hours can be long and it’s hard work, so having a passion for what you do is so important. It also makes it much more likely that you’ll do a good job if you care about what you are doing.
Get involved in buying
Being involved in buying has really helped me to understand more about the business. It has allowed me to understand the costs of things and how it affects the price at the counter. I feel that I’ve a much better understanding because of that.
Understand seasonality and sustainability issues
Seasonality has a big effect on the quality of seafood and it’s important that you are aware of the right seasons for eating different seafood. If something is in the spawning season then you’re not going to get the same quality, and it’s important you are aware of that. It is the same with sustainability. Being aware of these issues is really important.
Share your knowledge with your customers
Making sure that you communicate your knowledge with your customers is really important. It gives them confidence in their choices and it makes them value what you’re offering them. It also makes it more likely that they’ll return to you in the future.