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The Western Lake District Coast has been showcased in a brand new collaboration between World famous celebrity Chef Jean-Christophe Novelli and local wine merchant and Whitehaven Festival organiser Gerard Richardson MBE.
Jean-Christophe and Gerard first worked together in 2010 to highlight Cumbrian produce, in a book entitled ‘A Mad Frog and an Englishman Go Out in the Cumbrian Sun’, which followed their journey around Cumbria collecting ingredients for Jean Christophe to take back to his cookery school in Hertfordshire and then to turn into classic recipes for their book.
Their new collaboration goes on step further and uses a wealth of ingredients from the Western Lake District that only the locals know about and covet dearly – a feast for the taste buds, the freshest fish and seafood caught and landed locally.
Their new project is called ‘A Mad Frog and an Englishman Go Fishing’ and follows the intrepid pair as they go off in search of the freshest available fish and seafood and meet the characters that fish the local waters and keep the area’s long seafaring heritage alive.
During their journey along the dazzling Western Lake District coastline they discover Solway Brown Shrimps and have a go at the 900 year old art of Haaf Netting, a Viking form of fishing for salmon and trout still practiced on the Solway. Catch local langoustines, renowned as some of the best in the World and largely exported to France and Spain for customers in those countries to savour. Pot lobsters off Workington and search for cockles, muscles, oysters, razor clams, scallops and finally meet the crab man who creates a very special local delicacy Muncaster dressed crab. The book highlights a century’s old seafaring tradition in the Western Lake District, something that the local are fiercely proud of.
Jean-Christophe previously enjoyed fresh fish and seafood caught off the Western Lake District coast during his numerous visits to the area, and after talking to Gerard and in turn a number of local suppliers and hoteliers it was abundantly clear that these wonderful products were being exported far and wide to Europe but not being used to any great extent in the very county they were caught and landed, and as a result the pair set out to do something about this.
So after further conversations with Gerard the pair hit on the idea of producing a brand new book to promote the Western Lake District’s seafood offering locally and outside of Cumbria.
Their new book ‘A Mad Frog and an Englishman Go Fishing’ was launched locally at Whitehaven Festival 1st – 3rd June by Jean-Christophe in person as he demonstrated a selection of recipes from the book using locally caught seafood. The book was then launched nationally at BBC Good Food Show 13th - 17th June in Birmingham.
Michelin-starred chef Jean-Christophe explained the passion behind the new book. ‘’The book is full of my recipes for light and hearty seafood dishes alongside Gerard’s wine recommendations. The recipes are very simple that people can do every day. Writing the book has helped me to understand more about fish and about cooking fish.
During my 35 years as a chef I have been cooking dishes to the highest Michelin star standards, but what is really important for any cook to understand is that it is important to come back to simplicity and to understand the origins of dishes we create.’’
He added: ‘’Though I don’t fish myself; speaking with the fisherman and seeing the processes involved in catching and landing the fish gives me a greater understanding for the product they deliver to our kitchens. Gerard and I hope that the book will help to highlight the great fish and seafood available in Cumbria and help to promote the local fishing industry here. Ultimately we hope to get more hoteliers in the Lake District to use locally caught fish and seafood in their kitchens alongside the wealth of other excellent Cumbrian produce they already use.’’
Whitehaven Businessman Gerard Richardson MBE said: “When Jean-Christophe phoned to ask me if I wanted to work with him on this new book I jumped at the chance. After all how often something do you get to work alongside a world class chef and do something to promote your own area to the country and hopefully beyond.’’
For more information about the Western Lake District please visit www.western-lakedistrict.co.uk for a wealth of information on the area’s many foods, activities and accommodation offerings.