Alice Bexon, Purchasing Manager at Beacon shares insight into the popularity of seafood and top trends hitting the hospitality industry in 2018. As featured in Hotel F&B magazine.
What fish dishes are the most popular? And are there any current trends in fish and seafood?
Insight from our leading supplier Direct Seafoods highlights that the most popular fish dishes are still the usual suspects - salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and prawns. Despite the enormous variety of species available, these historically popular choices remain top for operators and consumers. However, just because operators choose to offer trusted favourites, doesn’t mean they can’t be innovative with flavour. We are noticing a desire from a number of chefs to try more adventurous types of smoked salmon menus, including combinations such as orange & tarragon, wasabi & lime, gin, and lemon & pepper. This satisfies customer demand for favourites, such as salmon, but offers a modern twist on traditional flavours.
With this said, due to the significant price increases in salmon over the last 18 months, we have seen a noticeable movement towards cod as an alternative offering, making fish and chips more popular on menus than ever before. However, due to quota cuts in 2018, it is expected that prices will be high on key white fish species, such as cod and haddock in 2018. Operators should bear this in mind and consider further alternatives. They suggest trying chalk stream trout; a sustainable, local, option that offers a similar texture and flavour to salmon.
Other dishes currently proving popular include fish curry and fish pie. These dishes enable chefs to use whichever fish is best value at the time; therefore operators can be more cost effective. These dishes also allow chefs to be more creative with their choices, giving them the ability to experiment with different flavours, sauces and combinations.
How much importance do chefs place on fish and seafood that is caught using environmentally friendly and sustainable methods? Should chefs tell their customers?
In recent years, chefs have become much more aware of seafood sustainability and responsible sourcing, as a response to more customers wanting to know how and where the fish and shellfish they are eating has been sourced. As a result, operators are actively seeking out more responsibly sourced fish, so they can ensure they are making environmentally friendly choices within their business.
Direct Seafoods feels very strongly about making sustainable choices, with sourcing fish responsibly paramount to their business. They have links with NGOs, such as the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), to develop and market sustainable alternatives. Direct Seafoods only ship fish across the country if they are not available locally. This also means minimum food miles and maximum freshness.
It is vital that chefs tell their customers about the sustainable choices that they make on their menus. By doing this, it will encourage the consumer to ask more questions about the fish they are consuming. It is important to create a demand for sustainable species, to ensure the long-term future of fisheries in the industry.
How difficult is it for F&B managers of chefs to keep a large variety of fish available on their menus? Do you think it’s better to just focus on a couple of specials options?
Considerations of seasonality, sustainability, provenance and price all make it very difficult to offer a large variety of fish. We recommend a balance. For example, if the majority of a menu is locally sourced, then it is acceptable to source further afield if a species has excellent sustainability credentials. If a more expensive species is sought, then seek to balance the rest of the menu with some lower value options, or reduce portion sizes marginally. It very much depends on the individual operators establishment, but aim for a balance.
It is also important to consider seasonality of fish and seafood. Direct Seafoods’ seasonal guide to fish availability shows the full list of species available each month, and assists with menu planning. With pre-planning seasonal fish, chefs will benefit from the best quality available and most competitive pricing, meaning maximum profit but also customer satisfaction.
For more information about Beacon please call us on 01904 695588 or follow Beacon on Twitter @Beacon_YPP.