50 ways to eat Whitby’s fish and ships for town’s festival feast

Paul Gildroy, head chef at The Magpie Cafe.
Paul Gildroy, head chef at The Magpie Cafe.

Whitby’s top eateries are creating an unforgettable feast of more than 50 dishes to celebrate its sensational locally-caught seafood, for a new Seafood Trail launched to be launched this Sunday (May 18), to celebrate the town’s new Fish & 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.

The trail promises to be a tantalising tour of the taste-buds; 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.

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 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 said: “We typically have about 12-14 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.”

Highlights on the Seafood Trail menu include:

• masterclass menu from Paul Gildroy showcasing the rich diversity of locally-sourced seafood through classic recipes

• live cooking demos at Trenchers, the UK’s best Fish & Chips restaurant in 2019

• behind the scenes view of Fortune Kippers’ traditional smokehouse, awakening the senses to the flavours, tastes and smells of long ago

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

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

• displays and children’s activity trails

• chefs getting creative with seafood, with a chance to try a 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

• 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 adds: “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.”

Janet Deacon, Tourism and Corporate Marketing Manager for Scarborough Borough Council and Area Director for Welcome To Yorkshire, added: “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.”

There will also be plenty of top-notch entertainment, including live music, madcap street theatre, artworks and a grand fireworks display.