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Review: Future of Fish – highlights from Mission Kitchen’s forum
FoodBev Media

FoodBev Media

5 June 2024

Review: Future of Fish – highlights from Mission Kitchen’s forum

Mission Kitchen invited FoodBev to its latest Tomorrow’s Table forum, Future of Fish, held last month in London’s New Covent Garden Market. The symposium brought together over 100 CEOs, industry leaders, chefs, innovators and sustainability advocates to deep dive into practical approaches for sustainable seafood production.

Exploring the promising – and critical – wave of innovations set to transform the future of seafood production, the event was a treasure trove of insightful panel discussions and dynamic live demonstrations, accompanied by an array of tasty, sustainable fish and plant-based seafood dishes.

Sushi expert Izumi Nakamura teaches attendees the traditions behind sushi-making

Before the first talk began, we were given a little plate of a sustainably sourced British classic, freshly prepared by Mission Kitchen chefs – I tried the battered hake, which was served with crispy, fluffy chips and a vibrant herby dip. The combination was incredible!

Nurturing nature

The day began with a welcoming talk, named Sea Change, from author and food writer Jenny Jefferies, who poignantly said: “It’s not about nature versus nurture, it’s about nurturing nature”. Jefferies highlighted the paradox of the UK’s seafood industry, noting that while the nation exports around 80% of its seafood, it imports a significant portion of its consumption. “We don’t eat what we produce, and we don’t produce what we eat,” she lamented.

A prevailing motif throughout the day’s events centred on enhancing consumer awareness regarding alternative seafood options beyond the ‘big five’ – cod, haddock, salmon, tuna and prawns – which currently dominate 80% of UK seafood consumption. Speakers suggested we educate consumers on seasonal fish types, with help from the supermarket giants who could stock seafood depending on what is in season in the UK.

One of the highlights of the symposium was the session ‘From Water to Table,’ where trailblazing producers and suppliers shared their insights on transforming the sustainability and provenance of seafood products. From innovative aquaculture practices and new approaches in the wild-caught fish supply chain, to bridging the gap between fisheries and marine biologists, I was inspired by the efforts of those in all corners of the industry, striving to create a more regenerative and responsible seafood sector.

As the day progressed, we were treated to a glimpse into the future with ‘Fish Remade,’ a session showcasing high-tech alternative fish and seafood products. From FoodSquared’s proprietary ingredient formulations that promise to redefine plant-based shellfish to Pacifico Biolabs’ fermentation-based alt-seafood and Squeaky Bean’s best-selling plant-based smoked salmon, the pioneers in this field showcased their ingenuity and commitment to revolutionising beloved seafood dishes while addressing environmental concerns.

The ‘Fish Remade’ panel, including Pacifico Biolabs’ Zac Austin, FoodSquared’s Frankie Fox, Compleat Food Group/ Squeaky Bean’s Colette Jessamy and Bidfood’s Andy Allen (L-R).

During and between the discussions and presentations, we had the opportunity to refuel and recharge at the Seaplant Snack Bar, enjoying sustainably sourced seaweed treats that delighted the palate while highlighting the potential of regenerative farming practices.

The day culminated in a celebration of diversity and tradition with ‘Fishing Traditions,’ featuring an all-female panel highlighting the invaluable contributions of women in the fish and seafood industry. From award-winning fisherwomen to top seafood chefs, the panellists shared their experiences and insights, inspiring attendees to champion diversity and nurture talent in the sector.

Ocean banquet

But perhaps the most anticipated part of the event was the culinary adventure presented at the Ocean Banquet, which embraced the cultural diversity of fish cuisine with offerings from far-flung corners of the globe.

From classics like sustainably sourced fish and chips to plant-based tuna, as well as a fresh oyster bar run by sister fishmongers Sista Shuck, attendees were able to taste and celebrate the myriad of ways in which fish has shaped culinary traditions worldwide.

Moreover, experimental dishes featuring lesser-known fish species highlighted the potential of sustainable fishing practices and encouraged attendees to explore new culinary frontiers.

Future of Fish

Throughout the day, we heard from esteemed speakers and chefs, including industry luminaries such as FoodSquared’s co-founder Frankie Fox, Pacifico Biolabs CEO and co-founder Zach Austin, James Fox-Davies, who founded 360 Aquaculture, Katrina Ryan, director of Mindfully Wired and Elaine Lorys, the UK’s first Master Female Fishmonger. The event was sponsored by the Esmée Fairbairn Foundation.

In conclusion, Tomorrow’s Table, The Future of Fish, was more than just an event; it was a celebration of innovation, sustainability and culinary excellence within the seafood sector. As I sat on the busy Northern Line from Nine Elms, I left with a renewed commitment to sustainable seafood, with hope for a brighter future for our oceans and the seafood industry.

This reminds me of a quote Jenny Jefferies echoed at the start of the day, “If you think you are too small to make a difference, try going to sleep with a mosquito in the room”.

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