The Real Food Cafe Goes on a Trip of a Lifetime to Norway
Let us take you on a trip of a lifetime to Ålesund, Norway with our founder and co-owner, Sarah.
The Real Food Cafe won this fabulous trip as a reward for our remarkable achievement as winners of the National Federation of Fish Friers (NFFF) Field to Frier Category at the prestigious Fish & Chip Awards 2023.
This trip was organised and hosted by Seafood from Norway and it was a surprise for all of the awards' winners. And in Sarah's words: "The Norwegians knocked it out of the park in every way."
The Norwegian Seafood Council (NSC) works together with the Norwegian fisheries and aquaculture industry to develop markets for Norwegian seafood. The NSC aims to increase the value of Norwegian seafood resources.
This once-in-a-lifetime trip took Sarah on an action-packed 3-day trip (13 – 15 June) learning all about the facts surrounding one of the largest cod stocks in the world and Norwegian sustainable seafood management practices. Norway demonstrates a truly impressive joined-up holistic approach with long-term commitment and measurable results.
What Happened on the Trip
The first day of the trip mostly included travel and introductions. The evening included a welcome reception at Godøy island and dinner was held at Alnes lighthouse joined by industry representatives from the Norwegian Frozen at Sea group and invited guests.
The second day's programme included an unforgettable voyage on board one of Norway’s impressive frozen-at-sea vessel, Atlantic. Visiting the spectacular fjords and witnessing a 65,000-hook long fishing line (10,000m) catching and processing cod & haddock and the fillets quick-freezing process on board the ship within 4 hours was nothing short of impressive. The level of detail and care put into ensuring absolute freshness left a mark on everyone attending.
We were joined by the Norwegian Fishing Vessel Owners Association, Sunnmøre and Romsdal Fisheries Sales, Organisation, local media and NSC.
The evening programme included dinner at a renowned local eatery XL Diner where we tasted bacalao made by Norwegian clip fish.
The last day of the trip included a visit to Ellingsøy and one of Norway’s largest producers of wild caught fish, Brødrene Sperre for an excursion to their processing facility.
With an annual fish processing capacity of 100,000 tons, the facility showcased the meticulousness and efficiency of the Norwegian seafood industry.
We then headed back to Ålesund for a final session, lunch and goodbyes.
Sarah says: "The trip was a life-enhancing, educational, and inspirational experience. The trip was beyond anything that I had ever imagined and has been one of the best experiences I’ve ever had."
Norwegian Seafood Council UK Director, Victoria Braathen said: “This trip proved a fantastic opportunity for the top ambassadors of the fish and chip industry to witness first-hand why origin matters when it comes to sustainable seafood. I hope Sarah returned armed with sustainable seafood know-how, and enjoys sharing stories of her Norwegian adventures with The Real Food Cafe’s loyal customers.”
Norwegian Seafood: A Model of Sustainability
Norwegian Seafood Council states: "Fishing communities have been the beating heart of Norway for thousands of years. Our ancestors’ craftsmanship and knowledge lives on within us, while skills and practices have been refined over the years to ensure seafood from Norway is the very best quality.
In Norway, harvesting from the sea isn’t just a source of livelihood, is a way of life. The production of Norwegian seafood has evolved in terms of technology, experience and knowledge, but it has never lost a sense of respect for the environment, the sea or the people.
From pioneering stock management to diverse fishing fleets, everything Norwegian seafood stakeholders do has sustainability at heart."
Norway's commitment to sustainable fishing practices was a focal point of the study trip. The country's holistic approach and long-term commitment to responsible fisheries management are awe-inspiring and we would like to see Scotland adopting this approach.
Norway followed the science and set policy accordingly and over the past few decades, they've invested in tech and quality at every step and as a result, they are now catching more fish, from larger stocks whilst using fewer vessels and manpower.
Norwegian Seafood Council states: "We believe that if customers understand where their fish has come from, and the lengths the industry is going to ensure the future of sustainable fishing, they will better see the value of it."
We identify with this belief which is why all of the fish at The Real Food Cafe is MSC Certified meaning it's fully traceable and responsibly sourced.
Proud to Be Part of the Fish & Chips Industry
This trip wasn't just about exploring Norwegian fisheries; it was also an opportunity to bond with fellow category award winners and industry representatives.
Sharing insights, experiences, and laughter, Sarah made cherished memories with other Fish & Chip Awards winners representatives from:
- Fish City Belfast
- The Fish Works
- Whiteheads Fish & Chips
- Lighthouse Fisheries of Flamborough
- The Chesterford Group
- Henry Colbeck
- FRY Magazine
- Chippy Chat Media
Enter NFFF Fish & Chip Awards 2024
The National Fish and Chip Awards have been celebrating the best in the industry for over thirty years. This year marked the sixth award win for The Real Food Café, after previously being crowned the Fish Fryers Quality Award Champion in 2020 and the Best Independent Food Service Operator in 2013 and 2014.
If you work in the trade, we highly recommend entering the 2024 Fish & Chip awards the entries are now open because trips like these are a cherry on top of the cake.
Sarah says: “The National Fish and Chip Awards are very important for us to enter for a number of reasons. Firstly, it’s a very good discipline to go through, as the awards are quite rigorous, which means as a business, you have to really have your house in order. It encourages us to keep on our toes.
Entering, being shortlisted and winning is a fantastic morale boost for our staff and validates that what we’re doing is right. There are a lot of awards out there, but these awards are the premium awards to be profiled in a fish and chip business. The consumer recognition of these awards in the UK is very high and because of that customer recognition, it validates their decision that you are their favourite fish and chip shop."
Credit to Seafood from Norway for the photos.