Catching ‘Wild Fish’

  The Abad group which has a turnover of over `1000 crores has many successful business segments including hospitality, real estate, shopping malls, retail, sea food export, cold storage and logistics. RITZ speaks to Faraz Javeed, who heads the domestic division of Abad Fisheries. 

The history of the Abad group dates back to the 19th century when the group became the first Indian company to export sun dried shrimp to countries like Burma, Tokyo and Singapore. As business started to expand, Usman Mohamed Hashim founded Abad fisheries in 1931. The company currently has a domestic division apart from exports. The brand has many firsts to its credit, right from being the first in the country to import Frigoscandia Freezer from Sweden, to starting the first fully panellised air conditioned factory called CAP Seafoods, to having the first modern public cold storage of 3000 pallet capacity, installing a cryogenic freezer, the list goes on.

The domestic division, called Abad Food Services is the brainchild of Faraz Javeed, the great grandson of the legendary Hashim. Javeed, a seasoned gastronome who is passionate about traveling and films, launched this division in 2010 which has its presence in Kerala, Chennai, Bengaluru, Coimbatore, Hyderabad and Delhi. In Kerala, they offer services in Kochi, Trivandrum and Calicut. Abad food services, known for its high quality sea food products, exceptional service and timely delivery has three main verticals.  The first, caters to HORECA segment, that’s the Hotels, Restaurants and Caterers. The retail division called ‘Sea sparkle’ supplies high quality frozen fish and breaded ‘ready to fry’ seafood to super markets or the modern trade. The latest addition to the company, called ‘Wild Fish’, has a chain of state-of-the-art seafood stores that caters to institutional as well as retail sales through its outlets at Fort Kochi, Kadavanthra and the Nucleus Mall at Maradu. “There was a consistent demand for fresh seafood in the domestic market which inspired us to start ‘Wild Fish’. The hot picks at the store would be the Seer fish, Pearl spot, Emperor fish, Barramundi, Black King Fish, Pomfrets, Leather Jacket and of course, the smaller ones like the Natholi and the Mathi. We also have a live fish counter for crabs and mussels. The Fort Kochi store has the Abad Chullickal restaurant adjacent to it. So, we also offer the ‘You buy – we cook’ service, which is very popular. Once the customer makes his pick, we prepare the dish as per his choice,” he says.

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There is a perception that fish loses its taste when kept in cold storage. Javeed busts the myth clarifying that the ‘Chill Kill’ method of killing the fish in ice is the best way to preserve the quality and taste of the product. “Fresh fish always needs to be stored in ice.  Our in-house Freon based ice making Unit keeps the fish frozen in good quality ice that is free from Ammonia.  We vacuum pack the sea food at our outlets and the product thus packed can be stored in the chiller compartment for a week to ten days or stored in a freezer if it needs to be stored longer,” he explains. Is Frozen food healthy? “In frozen foods, consistent quality is the major concern. But if you are buying it from a trusted source, that is not really an issue.  Professionally frozen fish is frozen at – 45 degrees which keeps it fresh without letting the product dry up.”  He recommends buying fresh sea food if it is for immediate consumption and frozen if it needs to be stored for longer periods. When asked about the response from the domestic market, he says that people realise that it is convenient – there is no wastage as one can choose the size of the product, no issue of waste disposal and we also offer maximum yield as the fish is being cut and packaged by professionals.

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Drawing inspiration from leaders like Elon Musk, Raghuram Rajan, Ratan Tata and Steve Jobs, Javeed continues to explore new horizons. Apart from opening more Wild Fish outlets across Cochin, the ‘School of Fish’ is the new exciting venture that Abad Food Services has in store at Mattancherry. The project which would cost over 12 crores, is an extravagant cooking studio that offers informal classes on various aspects of seafood, right from the basics like how to identify the different varieties of fish to learning how to clean them, fillet a fish, understanding which fish is ideal for what dish and of course a trained Chef will teach students the secret behind preparing delectable dishes. The school is open to all those who have a passion for seafood!