I am a chef, leader of Slow Food Cornwall and founder of the School of Cornish Sardines. The school is a social enterprise inspiring people to connect with food, especially fish. Cornwall has a vast coastline and a very rich fishing heritage.
I have worked in kitchens around the globe, from the Al Riyadh Palace for King Fahad to Falmouth’s Greenbank Hotel. Through my work, I strive to promote ‘traditional methods of fishing, while encouraging youngsters to respect and enjoy the legacy of fresh fish.
The pilchard and its young offspring the sardine used to be the basis of a thriving fishing and processing industry in Cornwall. In the late 19th century nearly 20 thousand tonnes of sardine was caught, salted, packed and sent to northern Italy where it was highly prized. By the end of the 20th century the fish had fallen out of favour. Supplies of the fish were still abundant but consumers had started to switch to more aspirational fish like cod and salmon. Sardines being landed fell below 10 tonnes. Fisherman gave up the profession, boats were destroyed and processing plants closed. Now with concerns over global stocks, one solution is for more of us to switch to “poorer” more abundant fish species like the sardine and pilchard.