Chefs and restaurant owners create new Seafood Trail in time for Whitby's new Fish and Ships Festival

Paul Gildroy, award-winning head chef of the famous Magpie Caf in Whitby
Paul Gildroy, award-winning head chef of the famous Magpie Caf in Whitby

Whitby’s top eateries are creating an unforgettable feast of over 50 delicious dishes to celebrate its sensational fish and ships – locally-caught seafood – for a new Seafood Trail to celebrate Whitby’s new Fish and  Ships Festival.

From family-run fishmongers to the UK’s finest fish restaurants, the whole town is coming together to showcase the quality and diversity of Yorkshire’s locally caught seafood harvest.

As each dish will be unique, the Seafood Trail promises to be a tantalising tour of the taste-buds; and while visitors can indulge in Whitby’s famous fish, chips and scampi, and traditional classics like chowder and cullen skink, there will also be plenty of surprises on the menu including tipsy seafood, ‘surf & snout’ and seafood-themed high teas.

The Seafood Trail, in association with Seafish, launches on Saturday May 18 to coincide with the new Whitby’s new Fish & Ships Festival which is on the Saturday and Sunday May 19.

On the Seafood Trail, visitors will also meet local fishing families who are building on tradition to put top quality seafood on Britain’s plates in their own unique and sustainable way, and helping to ensure that the town today is one of the country’s top seafood destinations.

They include local seafood heroes like Paul Gildroy, award-winning head chef of the famous Magpie Café, who will be creating a masterclass of a menu for the Seafood Trail from the crab, scallops, kippers, clams, dogfish, mussels, salmon, and much more that he’ll have sourced fresh from Whitby’s fishing trawlers.

Paul Gildroy said: “We typically have about 12 to 14 different varieties, whenever possible, of locally-sourced fish on our menu, and over the weekend we expect to be using nearly a tonne.

" When the boats land here in Whitby we like to support local fishermen as we know they always have excellent quality, which is so important. Everyone in the town wants to give their very best, so the standard of the food in Whitby is very high and everyone is so passionate about the food.”

Highlights on the Seafood Trail menu include:

1. The famous Magpie Café presenting a masterclass menu from head chef, Paul Gildroy showcasing the rich diversity of locally-sourced seafood through classic recipes

2. Live cooking demos at Trenchers, the UK’s best Fish & Chips restaurant in 2019

3. A behind the scenes view of Fortune Kippers’ traditional smokehouse, which has been in the same family since 1872, awakening the senses to the flavours, tastes and smells of long ago

4. Cod Roe Fishmongers’ scrumptious Sandwich Specials, freshly-made from seafood caught on their family-run fishing boat, the Nazanna, including Whitby Crab, and Crayfish & Samphire.

5. Exploring sustainable fishing in Whitby with the Fusco family - who have been running multi award-winning Quayside, Fish Box, and Royal Fisheries restaurants for over three generations - with talks, an exhibition by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC), and children’s activity trails.

6. Displays and children’s activity trails

7. Chefs getting creative with seafood, with a chance to try a completely unique dish like Shellfish Chowder with Ships Biscuits, and Surf & Snout at The Star Inn the Harbour; or a mackerel masterpiece at the Marine Hotel

8. Many dishes come with a side-helping of celebratory fizz or wine, and there are also Fish & Gin Tastings at Mr Chips By the Beach, or Beer-Battered Fish & Chips with Whitby Brewery Beer at Monks Haven Café.

Paul said: “Whitby’s history is steeped in the fishing industry. It was once of the main ports, playing a pivotal part in feeding the country. Although the fishing industry declined in the 20th century, Whitby’s shellfish industry has grown as we’ve learned to adapt and diversify, and we’re now a premier crab and lobster port.

"As a town we respect the fishermen and the fish – we know what a dangerous and difficult job it is.

"The whole town is pulling together for the festival to celebrate Whitby’s fishing history and it’s going to be fantastic. Whitby’s a gem of a town and we are so blessed to be living here. The festival is an opportunity to showcase what Whitby can do and that’s so, so important.”

Janet Deacon, tourism and corporate marketing manager for Scarborough Borough Council and area director for Welcome To Yorkshire. “It’s a great time to be casting a spotlight on Whitby as a fishing town.

"Our seafood restaurants are winning awards as UK’s best, and Yorkshire’s shellfish is amongst the best in the country - in demand across Europe, with Whitby being the largest supplier of scampi in the world! Visitors to the festival will be able to explore Whitby’s fishing life first-hand, not just tasting seafood, but finding out from local experts how to catch, fillet and dress a huge variety of locally-caught seafood - and even seeing how a local fishing trawler is built.

"As you’d expect from a seaside spectacular, there will also be plenty of top-notch entertainment, including live music, madcap street theatre, inspired artworks, and a grand firework display."