Sodexo Prestige pushes unfashionable fish

SODEXO PRESTIGE London is promoting less fashionable, under-used fish at its client restaurants and venues to help protect overfished species like cod.


Fish varieties like dab, gurnard and pouting are being given a culinary make-over and promoted as gourmet fish specials of the day on restaurant blackboards at locations such as the Churchill War Rooms and city firms.


Sodexo is one of a number of caterers to have launched policies around sourcing more sustainable fish. Compass, Lusso, BaxterStorey and others have all made commitments of one sort or another.


The ‘seastainable catch’ initiative, a partnership with supplier Direct Seafoods, means Sodexo Prestige London selects its fish from the catches actually landed by fishermen along the South Coast rather than just pre-ordering old favourites.


The problem is that less popular fish varieties, caught in nets alongside target catches like plaice or Dover Sole, sometimes end up being discarded and wasted because of weak market demand.


So chefs from the London division of Sodexo Prestige – the specialist corporate catering, fine dining and hospitality arm of Sodexo – are tempting diners to try lesser-known types of fish with dishes like pan roast gurnard and bag baked megrim, heritage carrot, spring onion and ginger.


“Marine fish are a precious and sadly declining resource,” said managing director James Greetham. “We are trying to help create a stronger market for under-utilised fish species. By using what is easily available and plentiful, we can keep a variety of great tasting and healthy, fresh fish on our menus in an entirely sustainable manner.”


Laky Zervudachi, group sustainability director at Direct Seafoods, added: “We learned from Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall’s ‘Fish Fight’ programme that the general public is open to trying new fish species and this initiative will help make them more readily available to try. Hopefully, this will help stimulate a better market for under-valued and sometimes wasted fish and create value for fishermen.”


Sodexo Prestige London also plans to showcase an unpopular, but plentiful fish each week in a ‘Fish Shop Fryday’ promotion which launches this month.


Last month, EU ministers agreed to ban fishing ships from throwing away their excess catch – so-called ‘discards’ – a practice that has seen millions of tonnes of edible fish thrown away since the introduction of strict fishing quotas 40 years ago. The agreement must pass through the EU Parliament and Commission before it becomes law.


The proposal is part of a significant reform of the Common Fisheries Policy taking place this year.