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Battle of the fishmongers begins

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Old 08-02-2011, 08:54 AM   #1
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Wales Battle of the fishmongers begins

Two of Cardiff’s top fishmongers are sharpening their knives in preparation for the ultimate contest - the hugely popular British Fish Craft Championships to be held in Cardiff Bay (August 27-29), as a key feature in the Cardiff Harbour Festival.

Nick Wood, 40, is the current title holder, and he will be pitting his wits against runner-up, veteran fishmonger, Mike Crates, 52.

Mike has earned a place in the audience's hearts having come second in the 2010 event - for the 19th time.

Both men work for Ashton’s Fishmongers based in Cardiff Central Market, so the competitive spirit between them is strong.

“We are good friends, but I would like to go away from the event this year with the overall trophy in my hands,” says Mike.

“Not that it’s all about winning, I have been taking part in the championships for 35 years, and have refused the request to become a judge, as I enjoy competing so much.”

Reigning champ, Nick, is keen to hold onto the title however.

“It’s rare for anyone to win two years in succession, and if I manage to retain the crown, I’ll be the first person to do so for many, many years, so that’s a big motivator,” he says. “We are judged on speed and presentation, so I am refining my skills from now until the competition, to make sure that I’m on top form.”

The Cardiff duo will face tough competition, as entries for the British Fish Craft Championships 2011 are flooding in from all corners of the UK, with entries received from as far afield as Cornwall, Norfolk, Yorkshire and London.

Last year a massive five tons of fresh fish was skinned, filleted, trimmed and sliced by the competing fishmongers, and figures are likely to be similar this year.

All this fabulous, expertly handled fish is sold to the public at bargain basement prices.

Throughout the Bank Holiday weekend, fishmongers will be on hand to give advice to the public on how to deal with their catch, and there will be fish cookery demonstrations on Saturday, August 27.

Competitors over the age of 18 are also being invited to try their hand at the Welsh National Oyster Opening Championships, taking place on Bank Holiday Monday, August 29.
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