Catch and cook: Fishing in Padstow, the Rick Stein way 

Woman with Fish
For the first time ever, the culinary clan’s cooking school will take you fishing and then help you cook your bounty.  Credit: Christopher Jones

"We’re the worst fishing family I’ve ever met! Can’t catch fish, an almost superhuman ability to miss them when they bite. We’ve tried everything: cod fishing, sea bass fishing…”

When I ask why, Jack Stein deadpans back: “Because they’re afraid of dad.” Rick Stein, the man who turned the sleepy village of Padstow into what is now known as Padstein (three restaurants, a deli, patisserie and a shop in town), might be so famous that even the fish know they’re for the plate if they go near his rod.

It seems like the right thing to do when we’ve got fishing boats and a cookery school. This is about 25 years late, but we’ve finally got itJack Stein

Jack recalls fishing trips with his father and two brothers (Ed, who works on the restaurants’ interior design and Charlie, who selects the wine): “The old man had one day off – Sunday – he’d be trying out new recipes and fixing things at the restaurant while we were waiting to go fishing. By the time we got there he was tired and let us get on with it, but we didn’t know what we were doing.”

The students prepare for their fishing trip Credit: Christopher Jones

So it’s with some surprise that I learn that hosting a Catch and Cook class has been a long-term dream of the Stein clan. This summer they will be offering a one-day course.

For Jack, who, as executive chef at the company is as passionate about fresh produce as his father, it’s about joining up the dots. “It seems like the right thing to do when we’ve got fishing boats and a cookery school. This is about 25 years late, but we’ve finally got it,” he says, every inch his father’s son.

But while plenty of people would jump like salmon at the invitation of a fishing trip followed by some chef-standard cooking, it is with a fair amount of trepidation that I step aboard the Emma-Kate.

By the end of the day, I will have caught a fish, filleted it and eaten it… but having never fished before, I fear I’ll be singing for my supper. 

Jack Stein says his father is terrible at catching fish Credit: Christopher Jones

Clouds loom as we leave the sandy coves of Padstow behind and head out to sea. Richard Mockett, 68 (the course a gift from his wife), counsels me on my sea legs. “Keep your knees slightly bent,” he says. At our first drift point everyone dives for a rod and drops bait.

We’re fishing mainly for pollack, with the hope of the odd cod, gurnard or mackerel. Pollack, a member of the cod family, is not celebrated for its taste (ending up as bulk in soups and fish cakes) but it is abundant in these waters.

Cooking kedgeree in Rick Stein's Cookery School Credit: Christopher Jones

The first fish bites. It’s Richard with a nicely sized pollack. Undersized ones are thrown back into the sea. Lee Wicks, our skipper, is doing his best to show me the basics but I’ve yet to land my own catch. Finally, all the focusing on the reel, when I should have been staring at the horizon, takes its toll. It’s the back of the boat for me. “You get sea legs in time,” says Wicks. “I used to get sick all the time.”

But there are no second chances today and with six fish in the bucket – smiles all around from my fellow students – we’re delivered back to the cookery school where lecturer Mark Puckey is raring to get going. Any sea-air fatigue in the group is quelled by a invigorating Loire valley white.

Today we’re making a hot smoked salmon kedgeree (see right) followed by a bouillabaisse using lobster and our freshly caught pollack. The salmon is more succulent than traditional haddock while the lack of cream keeps the whole dish light and full of spice.

For the bouillabaisse, we are shown the proper way to cook lobster (to kill humanely: wrap in a tea towel, freeze for two hours and add to boiling water), as well as fillet our pollack. The bouillabaisse is served with croutons and a palm-sized “pinch” of salt.

At the end of our session we bumble out of the school well-fed and content. And while I may not have caught a fish, I feel I have succeeded in doing it the Stein way.

Rick Stein’s Cookery School is offering Telegraph readers £50 off any one-day cookery course (usual price £198). Quote Telegraph2016 when booking before July 31 2016. Valid until end of 2016 and not to be used in conjunction with any other offer or discount.