Our mercurial founder and leader. Relentlessly cheerful and inquisitive, Paul’s ability to treat the squalls and riptides of the fishing industry in a calm and upbeat manner, whilst steering the ship with a sure, and surprisingly light, hand on the tiller, is invaluable. Always keen to innovate, he loves nothing better than to turn an idea plucked from the ether, into solid fact. He likes to keep himself fit, even though his best years (and knees) are probably now framed in the rearview mirror (he would dispute this!).
Like an onion (and ogres) Rich has layers. Some of the layers are prickly and, quite frankly, quirky. However, when you peel that layer away, the one underneath might well be fluffy, or charming or……. It just might be another prickly one. His layers have undoubtedly stood him in good stead over the decade that he has been running things at FFT. Equally at home effortlessly filleting a turbot, or expertly discussing the finer points of aquaculture with a Michelin star chef, Rich knows the industry from top to bottom.
How and when Rob joined FFT is a story lost in the mists of time. Some say that he evolved naturally, years ago behind his desk and has been perched there ever since, gleaning what nourishment he needs from licking envelopes and sniffing highlighters, and that if he leaves the desk the House of FFT will fall! Some say he prowls the factory in the dead of night, carrying out lonely audits and talking with the lobsters in their own secret language. The truth is that he’s a bit too well padded these days to wheeze up and down the stairs too often!
‘And so it came to pass, that Jan descended from the mountain clasping tablets of stone whereon was carved THE LAW. Her eyes flashed and the elders cast themselves down in fear and embarrassment! “Thou shalt not leave thine invoices in a heap! Thou shalt not clutter the office with empty porridge bowls! And thou canst cut out some of that language. Verily!” she cried. And lo, she stamped her foot (clad in a stylish Gucci sandal) and the men present ran to do her bidding.’ – an extract from the book of FFT, recalling the day that Jan took over as office manager. It’s pretty much been like that ever since. (More power to her elbow)
Sammy P is the seasoned veteran of the guys at the sharp end of the business. Filleter, lobster wrangler, fork-lift operator, practical joker- his talents are endless. Always one of the first to arrive in the morning, the sound of his speakers shaking the car-park is strangely reassuring. If FFT were a Hollywood blockbuster, he’d be played by Mark Wahlberg, though I worry that he may not be able to get the accent quite right. Also, I would hope he’d undergo proper training – fight choreography is all very well, but splitting a lobster on-screen has to be believable.
Dex joined FFT straight out of school as a skinny, pimply-faced 17-year-old. We have had the privilege watched him grow from that nervous lad with the high-pitched giggle, who had never scaled a fish in anger, into an extremely accomplished filleter. As well as shouldering the extra responsibility of a supervisor’s role, he has also recently become a father for the first time. Thank goodness the disturbed sleep, crying and occasional smells are merely an extension of his time at work.
Matt arrived as a driver ‘back along’, as we say down here. We gently lulled him into a false sense of security and then BAM!! We hit him with promotion. Finding himself suddenly occupying the dizzyingly powerful role of Operations Manager, he did what he always does – rolled up his sleeves and quickly set about moulding the factory, and the motley crew within it, into a hardworking model of sleek efficiency in his own image. Hailing from Helston, he knows all about fishing and makes sure that our quality never slips.
If you’ve ever had the pleasure of talking to our Alison on the phone, you may get an inkling that she might just come from somewhere ‘over the Tamar’. However, since she settled in Cornwall several years ago, she has become a fierce champion of Cornish fish and all things local. In fact, I gather it’s a job to drag her out of her local at weekends! Her background in the aerospace industry means that ‘Attention to Detail’ is her mantra……. That and “Mine’s a pint, bonny lad!”
When you watch a nature programme, it’s always heart-warming to follow the progress of a particular cub, or other, through the coming of age process out on the savannah. It feels a bit like that with Ben. A popular and hardworking member of the team for a long time, Benji has recently graduated to become part of the buying team on the market. After intense demonstration, instruction and encouragement, and with Paul and Rich acting as surrogate parent lions, he finally wrestled his first galloping wildebeest to the ground – or bought his first box of fish at Newlyn! Proud moments…
A consummate gamer and quasi-Youtube celebrity by night, Luke recuperates during the day by removing the pinbones from literally “Millions” of fish, and counting (slowly). Fuelled exclusively by various processed meats and the music of Ariana Grande, he works his way methodically along each fillet, knowing that every bone he removes brings him closer to affording his dream moped. When that happens, the world will be his actual lobster, man.
If you accept the premise that good cookery is an art form, then chefs are the painters or musicians of their chosen medium. If the chef of a large Michelin Star restaurant is like the conductor of an orchestra, controlling the tempo of the piece and bringing in the strings or woodwind section at exactly the right moment, then making beans on toast for yourself is the culinary equivalent of singing in the shower. Chef Adam is like a classically trained singer/songwriter in the Gary Barlow mould, capable of rocking Stadium Tours with all the glitz and make-up, but equally fab in an intimate unplugged session. His amazing body of work contains all the favourites we know and love, so when the crowd are chanting “LOB-STER BEESK! LOB-STER BEESK!” Adam sighs, tunes up his trusty blender, runs a hand through his hair and wanders out into the spotlights and the noise….
Standing at a smidgeon under 6’10”, Lauren tends to float above most of the early morning activity at FFT. Pre 9.00, she will reply to any question with an irritable unfocused glance that seems to say “Why are you bothering me, short person? I am obviously still reaping all the benefits of sleep, whilst giving the appearance of being awake.” At 9.00 however, a switch in her brain is thrown and speech flows from her in machine-gun bursts. Drivers, casually washing their vans, sense the electricity in the air and scrub twice as fast, casting nervous glances toward the office. They sense “The Quickening”. Science has been unable to account for this phenomenon yet ….. although it might have something to do with the 5 sugars (count them) in her tea….
It was a red letter day at FFT when Stuart bounced into our lives. After a couple of unsuccessful attempts at finding someone to ride shotgun for Chef Adam, Stuart rocked up and the culinary equivalent of Bodie and Doyle squealed into cookery action, in their metaphorical Ford Capri Ghia. Chef brings the moody world-weariness of ex SAS hard man Lewis Collins, while Stuart is the epitome of a boyish Martin Shaw; all leather jacket, curly hair and a willingness to rip up the rule/recipe book. All set to one of the best TV theme tunes ever written – cookery gold!
This is Lindsey’s first office job since she left college and we are acutely aware that we are setting the benchmark, against which she will measure any future employers. Not that we want to get rid of her just yet. She has proved herself to be punctual, efficient, organised and industrious. She does, however, lack one of the most basic of all office-based skills – tea making! Do they not teach this in colleges any more? Not only is her mechanical knowledge of the operation sketchy at best, but she seems impervious to any hints that some of her older and more experienced colleagues, might be absolutely gasping for a brew. A subtle “Go on Lindsey, Stick the kettle on and make a cuppa, will you?” is met with a quizzical half smile, as if you were speaking German or Mandarin. I blame the parents….
I read once, that Portuguese footballers judge the value of a goal not by its importance in a game, or it’s statistical effect, but by its beauty. Their fellow countryman, Valter, feels the same about the fantastic fillets that he produces. In much the same way that the fifth goal in a 7-0 rout of Rotherham might be a “better” goal than an 89th minute winner against Arsenal in the FA Cup final, it’s equally important to attain a gorgeous fillet for Mrs Goggins of Swaffham, as it is to produce aesthetically pleasing fish for a Michelin star chef. Life, art, beauty, football, love – a great philosophy.
Rochelle arrived with a fearsome reputation. Being Matt’s (immeasurably) better half, the logic was that anyone who could keep our Matthew in line must be “quite forceful”. All of which, only goes to show that you should never pre-judge people. It turns out she is quite lovely and has slotted seamlessly into Chef Adam’s Kitchen team. The music choices in there have certainly improved since she arrived….
Like a Mento’s mint dropped into a glass of cola, Natalie started to cause a froth and a commotion as soon as she arrived at FFT. Not only was her infectious enthusiasm for anything fishy extremely catching, and her energy levels, variously channelled into coastal angling, social media and foodie-ism, incredibly high, but on a more practical level, having to physically squeeze her desk into our small-ish office caused much consternation. It is a measure of her charm though, that Richard, not a great lover of “change” in any form, has crammed himself into his new spot with barely a grumble. Luckily for Nat, she spends most of her time out of earshot, on the open highway visiting our local chefs, laughing at their incredibly funny jokes, lending a sympathetic ear to their (very occasional) moans and making sure that they are getting the freshest fish, and the finest service, in Cornwall. Easy life.