James Kirwan, BIM’s Young Fishmonger of the Year, enjoys prize of study trip in Paris

Young Fishmonger of the Year 2014

First of all I’d like to thank BIM for giving me this great opportunity. I’m still over the moon to have won Young Fishmonger of the Year 2014.

Renee (my partner, in life and in business) and I really enjoyed the Paris trip and the insight into the French Seafood Industry. John Hackett, BIM’s Regional Business Development Officer, was great to have with us to show us things and explain certain elements. I never realised there were so many varieties of oysters and John explained to us about the different grades, etc.

Young Fishmonger of the Year 2014

There are quite a few differences between the Irish and French industries. The main thing we noticed from the start in Carrefour was the vast shellfish sections and also the value-added range that was available. The variety from both were larger than anything I’ve seen anywhere before and I’ve gotten plenty of new ideas from these areas.

The counters in most of the independent shops and larger stores were mostly laid out in ice and had quite a large selection of whole fish, something I do not think there is a current demand for here in Ireland. Also any fillets that were laid out were skinned and boned – this is something that we could maybe have more of at our own counter to offer to customers. 

The quality of the fish overall was good in most stores and I would think in general the quality in Irish fishmongers is on par if not better. We thought in most independent stores the price of fresh fish was quite high but I think most of the shellfish were maybe cheaper by around 10%, with the exception of lobster and Dublin Bay prawns, which are more expensive, and were being widely offered pre-cooked. 

Seafood in general seems to be in greater demand in Paris with one small market that we visited on Saturday morning in Montparnasse boasting five separate fish counters and two dedicated oyster stalls. This would be well worth a visit if anyone is going to Paris.  

We found quite a large amount of fish dishes on the restaurant menus compared to what we offer here. 

Overall we loved the experience and a big thanks again to you all in BIM.