Hampton Senior High Students Shown Seafood Secrets

If you didn't like seafood you will now - students trying chilli and garlic mussels.

If you didn’t like seafood you will now – students trying chilli and garlic mussels.

To begin last month’s Smartfish education initiative at Hampton Senior Highschool WAFIC staff asked the one question on everyone’s mind – who here likes seafood?

The room that was once full of chatter went silent and all that could be heard was whispers, coughs and pens fall to the ground.

A majority of the year 11 students seemed mortified at the interrogation with only a few raising their hand admitting they enjoy it and like cooking with it. It came down to the obvious factors, the smell and taste put them off, whilst for others it was simply the texture and touch – a common theme throughout all schools.

Whilst chef Zoe Kumar was busy preparing in the background, industry representative Lucy Lynch, manager at Seafresh Myaree, debriefed the class on the importance of buying and sourcing local fish as well as acknowledged the role of industry representatives in the community.

Questions followed about where to purchase local seafood in WA and how to engage in work experience following Lucy’s presentation and she was blown away by the level of engagement of the students. “The students were well engaged, very interested and very easy to talk too. Half of them were sceptical at the start and it was good to see how quickly attitudes changed”, she said.

Then it was time for the seafood to make an appearance – local mussels and WA cuttlefish. With mussels straight from the sea and still with their beards (Byssus Thread) attached, the smell of fresh seafood quickly filled the room much to the amusement of the students.

WAFIC Executive Resource Access Officer Mannie Shea was quick to point out that the smell was fresh fish – ‘smelling like the sea’. Giving the students a quick world lesson, she said “don’t be afraid to get close to the fish and take a good sniff – trust your instinct and what your nose is telling you”.

Crown commis chef Zoe Kumar told the class that she loves cooking with seafood because there are so many things you can do with it. “Seafood is the most diverse type of protein, there are so many ways to cook seafood and I want to help others learn as well”, she said.

The students had the chance to engage in a hands-on cooking experience where Zoe facilitated the class, sharing her culinary seafood secrets – something that a textbook could never teach. Students watched in awe as Zoe effortlessly prepared mouth-watering Lemon myrtle cuttlefish and garlic chilli mussels on a bed of bush tomato and river mint verde, garnished with edible sand balsamic pearls and fresh cucumber.

As students eagerly scoffed down their own gastronomical creations, attitudes towards seafood quickly changed. A student at the end of classed summed up the morning perfectly, “honestly, I didn’t really know about seafood before. This opportunity has allowed me to learn so much about it. Thank you, she said.”

Teacher Kelly Drake said the students enjoyed the hands-on experience. “The students were taught where seafood comes from, what they are buying and the importance of supporting our local community, member’s and members of the industry”.

The Smartfish education program is still in the pilot program phase and classes will commence again for term 3 in the next couple of weeks. Any commercial fishers, aquaculturalists, wholesalers and retailers who would like to be a part of the education program should contact WAFIC at [email protected]

Students learning from chef Zoe about cooking with underutilised seafood,

Students learning from chef Zoe about cooking with underutilised seafood,

Students watching chef Zoe.

Students watching chef Zoe.