Continuing our ‘local food heroes’ series, which highlights some Philleigh Way favourites, this month we interviewed Annie Sibert, tutor on our fish and shellfish cookery courses to find out what Annie thinks about living in Cornwall, her Dad’s fish pie, Camel Valley fizz and her thoughts on working with Philleigh Way!
Annie was a Fishmonger for 20 years and now teaches people how to fillet and cook fish to perfection.
Who or what inspired you to become a fishmonger?
Born in Falmouth and brought up in a family involved in the fishing industry, I started my own business at the age of 19, a very successful door to door fish round.
Coming from a fishing family, was fish a regular feature at mealtimes growing up?
I remember my father bringing home smoked mackerel, this was a new product back then, I was about 12 and I thought it was delicious.
Whenever my father cooked fish pie, it was always a family favourite and if he ever added Scallops, such a treat! We would argue if we didn’t get any on our plate! I still use my father’s fish pie recipe to this day.
What inspired you to start teaching people about fish?
I started out simply as a way of passing on my knowledge. My underlying passion is to get people back into our fishmongers.
Understanding how to recognise quality fish and how to cook it is essential for anyone who is interested in introducing this fabulous ingredient into their everyday cooking habits.
What stops people from buying fresh fish to cook from scratch?
I think many people still suffer from the misconception that fish is difficult to prepare and cook. Once you know the basics of filleting and cooking fish, you will never look back. It really is so easy to prepare once you know what you are doing. A good fishmonger will be able to help you prepare you fillets if filleting puts you off. There is nothing better than simply cooked fillets of fresh fish straight from the boat!
What can be done to get people to eat more fresh fish?
From the consumers point of view I feel there is never enough TV coverage on the highly controversial subject of fishing. They are constantly given mixed messages regarding what species to buy etc.
My tip: Ask your fishmonger and diversify your choice of fish, it is the only way as a consumer to help sustainability. If it’s on the slab and looking fresh, buy it
What is your favourite fish and favourite fish dish to cook at home?
My favourite dish to cook at home is pan-fired lemon sole fillets in wholemeal flour. Delicious!
What do you love about Cornwall?
It has to be the coastline and the abundance of amazingly fresh fish it allows us to access. People in Cornwall are so lucky to be surrounded by such a wonderful resource and should make the most of it by supporting their local fishmongers.
Aside from fish, what is your favourite Cornish food product?
My favourite Cornish product besides our fish has to be Trewithen Dairy’s butter, I could eat it ‘til the cows come home!’
What is your favourite Cornish drink?
My favourite Cornish drink has to be fizz from Camel Valley and I drink nothing but Cornish Tea (orange box).
Favourite family friendly place to eat?
My favourite place to go with the family and the dog is the Headland Hotel, Newquay. Great food on the terrace and a great location to take Wilson, we’re all happy!
What would you choose for your last meal?
My last meal would definitely be pan fried mackerel fillets, on their own, nothing else needed. 8 fillets please!
Favourite place in Cornwall?
My favourite place has to be the Helford area of Cornwall, I am so lucky to live in the village of Mawnan Smith. It sits nicely in between the Helford and the beautiful cove of Maenporth.
Why do you enjoy working with Philleigh Way?
I love working at Philleigh Way. The whole set up is aimed at the students getting the most from their day. The surroundings are stunning and the way Philleigh Way opens its doors and invites the experts in is such a huge bonus for the student, it also allows Philleigh Way to offer such an extensive range of courses. Not forgetting the immense amount of knowledge and skills George has to offer, he is a joy to work with!
What’s the best bit about the fish course?
My favourite bit about the fish course at Philleigh Way is never knowing what fish has come through the door until the day, this enables George and I to be quite diverse on how we deal with whatever species is landed to us.
Annie is guest tutor on our hugely popular Fish Cookery and Shellfish Cookery courses. Annie also carries out demonstrations at many food festivals and events around the county including the Falmouth Oyster Festival, the Padstow Christmas Festival and the Royal Cornwall Show.