West's top chefs get out of the kitchen and cast a line to catch their own lunch
Give a man a fish and he can eat for a day, an old proverb tells us. Teach him to fish and he can eat for a lifetime.
Similar logic clearly applies to chefs, who can learn a great deal more about one of the most popular of restaurant ingredients by going out and catching it themselves.
That's what a group of Devon and Cornwall chefs did this week when they took part in fly fishing challenge at Kennick Lake, Bovey Tracey.
The event, attended by the kings of the kitchen from some of the Westcountry's top restaurants, helped to celebrate Country Sports South West's regional campaign to encourage more people to eat responsibly-sourced sustainable local rainbow trout and to make the most of the region's fly fishing opportunities.
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Fourteen chefs from Devon and Cornwall took part in the challenge followed by a lunch of sustainable local rainbow trout.
The event was organised by Country Sports South West (CSSW), Cornwall Food & Drink and South West Lakes Trust.
Game fish is an increasingly important part of the South West chefs' repertoire and the challenge helped to highlight the link between fishing and eating responsibly sourced sustainable freshwater fish in the region.
There are approximately 25,000 rod days available for fishermen to catch salmon and sea trout alone in the South West. The combined value of shooting, fishing and equestrian sports to the region is put at some £1.26 billion.
The regional game food campaign is being run by Country Sports South West which is also promoting regional game fish recipes, and publicising the chefs, restaurants, gastro pubs, game suppliers and fisheries via a consumer website and marketing programme.
Country Sports South West is a £1.6 million tourism project aimed at promoting the South West region as a premier tourism destination for country sports. The project is being delivered by The British Association for Shooting and Conservation (BASC).
Annette Cole, senior manager of Country Sports South West, said: "Rainbow trout features on many restaurant menus in the region; however it still isn't eaten as much as traditional sea fish. Rainbow trout has a delicate taste and is very nutritious and we are encouraging more chefs to utilise this wonderful product, whilst encouraging more visitors to have a go at fly fishing on one of our many rivers or lakes."
Ruth Huxley, director of Cornwall Food & Drink, said the chefs loved being involved in the event and people were fascinated with game. "Freshwater fish is so often forgotten in this county, where we are surrounded by sea, but there is ample opportunity for game fishing and we hope to encourage more people to have a go," she said.
South West Lakes Trust, which provided the venue for the event, is the region's largest combined environmental and recreational charity. Its 50 inland water sites, spread across Devon, Cornwall and West Somerset,
Chris Hall, Outdoor and Active Project Officer for the Trust, said: "Responsibly sourced local rainbow trout not only taste delicious and can be prepared in many different and exciting ways, but also enable anglers to enjoy the wonderful sport of fly fishing in a variety of picturesque locations throughout the South West.
"It is a healthy outdoor pastime that can be enjoyed by almost all age groups, and is particularly accessible in the West Country. The Trust regularly runs free beginners' days for newcomers wanting to have a go."
The chefs who attended this week's event – and actually managed to catch some fish, were Karl Jones, training and development chef Fifteen Cornwall; Jack Stein, head chef of the development kitchen, Seafood Restaurant Padstow, Cornwall; Paul Ainsworth, owner-chef of Number 6 Restaurant, and Rojano's in Padstow; John Walton, head chef Number 6 Restaurant, Padstow; Chris McClurg, sous chef Number 6 Restaurant, Padstow; Paul Ripley, previously head chef at Rick Stein's seafood bar, Falmouth, currently working with Nathan Outlaw; Neil Haydock, head chef of Watergate Bay Hotel, Cornwall; Tom Scade, head chef of Tides Restaurant/Mariners Rock, Cornwall; Dave Sargent, owner-chef of Sargies, Cornwall; Tony Duce, head chef at the Rosevine, Cornwall; Steven Pidgeon, head chef of Arundell Arms, Devon; Marc Hardiman, head chef of Bovey Castle, Dartmoor; Tom Butt, chef at The Fox & Hounds Country Hotel, Devon; Richard Bredian, head chef of Roadford Lake Restaurant, Cornwall.