Freshly caught knowledge: Two Bell Seafood employees have been trained as fish sommeliers

They dug through books, trained their senses, listened well, cooked and tasted. Since last autumn, Theodor Pulver and Pascal Bieth from Bell Seafood in Switzerland can call themselves fish sommeliers. They completed their extensive training at the Transgourmet Seafood Academy in Bremerhaven.

How does climate change impact on fishing? What quality criteria must be considered when purchasing fish? And what is the best way to remove the bones from salmon fillets? These and many other questions about fish and Co. can now be answered even better by Theodor Pulver, Head of Seafood Purchasing, and Pascal Bieth, Seafood Consultant. The two Bell employees in Switzerland have recently become fish sommeliers with a certificate from the Chamber of Industry and Commerce, the Association of German Commercial Enterprises, which is also committed to training and further education in its affiliated sectors.

«We both wanted to deepen our already acquired expertise and get it acknowledged with a recognised degree», reported Theodor Pulver and Pascal Bieth added: «For me as a trainer for seafood product sellers at Coop and Transgourmet, the comprehensive theoretical content, for example on the subject of sustainability, was particularly important.»

For the course, which is the first and only of its kind in the German- speaking world, the two travelled to Bremerhaven last autumn for a week to the Transgourmet Seafood Academy. Transgourmet Germany has launched this course because those responsible have been asking themselves for quite some time why there are sommeliers for wine, meat, water or cheese, but not for fish.

For implementing the idea, Transgourmet brought on board the «FischMagazin», the research service provider «ttz Bremerhaven» and the Bremen Chamber of Commerce as partners and the «European Marine and Fisheries Fund of the European Union» as supporter. In 2017, the first group was able to complete its advanced training as certified fish experts.

For Theodor Pulver and Pascal Bieth, the programme started last September. In a total of eleven training modules, together with 24 other participants from a wide variety of industries, they were given comprehensive insights into the special features of fish as food. The focus was on product knowledge, fish sensor technology and also quality inspection and recognition.

The syllabus covered a wide range of topics, from the history of fishing to aquaculture and overfishing of the oceans, to the correct storage and nutritional properties of fish. The theoretical modules were supplemented, for example, by the sensory part, in which noses and taste receptors had to prove their skills, or joint cooking, in which manual skills such as opening oysters were essential. And since a good meal also includes matching drinks, in the last module the participants learned which wine goes best with which fish.

Between the two training units, the textbooks waited for the colleagues. «The papers we had to work through included about 1,200 pages», says Theodor Pulver. «That's quite a lot of things that we had to learn in a short period of time in addition to our full-time job.»

In mid-November, at the end of the second week of the course, the two of them took the individual exams, which they successfully passed. «We were able to directly apply the course content from the very first moment: Pascal Bieth, for example, in his training courses and I in the supplying of seafood products for Bell», says Theodor Pulver.

So well-equipped, the two freshly appointed fish sommeliers for sure will never flounder, even with tricky questions from colleagues, customers or course participants.