Want to hear a fish story? Unfortunately that phrase is associated with somebody exaggerating the size of a fish they caught—or, of course, the one that got away. 

Yet here’s a story with several truths. One fact is that the nation’s COVID pandemic forced many restaurant chains and independents to close or severely curtail operations. Another unfortunate fact is that it has remained difficult for restaurants (like all businesses) to recruit workers.

King & Prince Seafood’s Battered Cod earned the “Best Foodservice Back of House” honors in Prepared Foods’ annual Spirit of Innovation (SOI) awards. Hear more of the King & Prince story when Prepared Foods hosts its SOI Awards ceremony on Wednesday, July 28 from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. EDT.
Register for this year’s event.

Even so, some hardships present true opportunities for food manufacturers and their R&D teams to partner with operators. And that’s that fish story involving King & Prince Seafood Corp., Brunswick, Ga., and its King & Prince Battered Cod.

“Last September, an operator approached us to help alleviate some labor challenges they were experiencing,” notes Elise Carlson, CFS, King & Prince senior research and development manager. “They were taking frozen, cellophane-wrapped cod, thawing it and then cutting it into pieces. Kitchen staff then cut the cod by hand so not all pieces were exactly the same, which is a desirable attribute. After cutting, they put the fish back into the freezer to firm up. Later, they dipped it in flour and when it was time to cook, they dipped the fish into their own fish and chips batter. The batter was pre-prepped to the required viscosity and this also required more labor. In the end, it was very important that the back-of-house appearance was maintained—but they desired a freezer-to-fryer product.”

A five-month product development project began as the customer supplied King & Prince with their batter along with photos of the finished back-of-house product. Carlson says King & Prince Seafood’s R&D team took it from there.

The cross-functional project involved work with operations and engineering. Together, all three departments created new raw material specifications to achieve a “consistent” cut of fish with an “inconsistent” appearance.

“We adjusted processing parameters—along with a proprietary process developed by the team—to create rippled, ‘gnarly’ back-of-house appearance,” says Carlson.

Mike Tigani, King & Prince Seafood director of marketing, says King & Prince officially launched its namesake Battered Cod product this January.

“Our customer was so happy with our product and appearance, that they requested we also work with their chicken supplier so that manufacturer could produce a similar chicken product,” he notes. “Meanwhile, Meanwhile, we solved our customer’s need with innovation and consistency.”