Catering Managers from Exemplar Health Care hit London’s famous Billingsgate fish market

20 October 2023

Catering Managers stood outside Billingsgate Fish Market

This Summer, Catering Managers from seven of our homes visited the world-famous Billingsgate fish market in London, which is the United Kingdom's largest inland fish market.

They spent the day touring the market, gaining a deeper understanding of the food supply chain and meeting suppliers.

The Catering Managers came away with lots of new learning to take back to their homes, to improve the mealtime experience for our service users.

They arrived at their destination bright and early for a tour of the market whilst it was in full flow. Even at 06:00 a lot of trade had already taken place, with some traders already clearing up for the day.

During the tour, the group met numerous suppliers and discussed the different types of fish available and where they’d been caught. They were interested to learn that the traditional jellied eels of East End London are flown alive from New Zealand three times a week, and the ones present on the day had landed at Heathrow at 22:00 the night before.

Following the tour, everyone attended a fish masterclass from CJ Jackson who has worked at the market for over 20 years and written numerous cookery books.

During this session they learnt how to fillet four different types of fish, which was a very hands on class to develop their skills.

The group also attended a session on waste management from Jamie Clews from Robot Coupe who highlighted key points to take away and review in both their work kitchens and at home.

To conclude the day, colleagues took part in a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ type challenge where they were tasked with picking out just five ingredients, plus one type of fish, to create a dish.

Liam O'Shaughnessy from Wheldale Heights came away with the winner’s position with a delicious risotto and Mackerel dish.

Dave Daniels Ekarte, Head of Hotel Services at Exemplar Health Care, said: “This was a great trip out as a thank you for all the Catering Manager’s hard work. It was also great to build connections between the Catering Managers.

“It’s all too easy to forget that you’re part of a larger picture and get consumed by the day to day goings on, but by meeting others that are in similar roles you get to share ideas, best practice and create relationships that will help the growth of the department.

“It was lovely to see the managers bonding so well together, despite meeting for the first time.”

The team is already exploring other ideas for the future, such as visiting vegetable farms or butcheries.

Not only do these days bring the teams together, but they also increase awareness of produce and give colleagues the opportunity to step out of their natural habitat and see the industry from a different perspective. 

Rob Bjelland from Yarningdale said: “The Catering Manager’s trip to Billingsgate fish market was day to remember! As Chefs, getting a chance to see the food supply chain and its inner working was an eye opener.

“Then to be given a masterclass from the amazing CJ Jackson and seeing her passion first hand was a treat. The day was topped off with a session on waste management and a good bit of competition in the form of a ‘Ready, Steady, Cook’ challenge.

“Massive thank you to all involved in making it happen and all the chefs that joined, I can't wait to see you all again.”

Our care homes recruit for a range of catering roles including Catering Managers, Chefs and Catering Assistants. If you’re looking to use your cooking skills to make a difference, visit our online job search.