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Fish fries are back for dine-in or take out

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Posted on: March 9, 2023

By Katie V. Jones

The grocery list for the Knights of Columbus Patuxent Council 2203’s popular fish fry at St. Mary of the Mills, according to Chris Walker, co-chair of the event and head chef, includes: 35 to 40 pounds of fish, 24 to 30 pounds of French fries, 12 dozen coconut shrimp, 8 dozen orders of shrimp cocktail and 25 to 30 pounds of salmon.

Customers filled the Breen room at St. Mary of the Mills waiting for their orders at the first fish fry of the year on Feb. 24.
Photo credit: Katie V. Jones

Add soups, coleslaw, green beans, tartar sauce and lots of dedicated volunteers, and you have the Knights’ successful recipe for their 13-year tradition of serving fish every Friday during Lent, which spans the 40 days before Easter. Traditionally, Catholics refrain from eating meat on Friday during this period.

“I wouldn’t miss these fish fries for the world,” said Art Blenkle, a Past Grand Knight who helped start the fish fry tradition. “We have a hard core following.”

This year’s first fish fry, on Feb. 24, also marked the return of in-person dining. During 2021 and 2022, the dinners were offered for drive-up service only. That’s when Stan Potter, who co-chairs the fish fries with Walker, became involved.

“Before that, I was a customer,” said Potter, as he welcomed people to the fish fry and took their orders. “A lot of these people we picked up during COVID[-19]. They like Chris’ cooking.”

Stan Potter takes orders for the Knights of Columbus’ first fish fry on Feb. 24.
Photo credit: Katie V. Jones

Like Potter, Walker started helping with the fish fries during the pandemic and was soon tweaking the menu.

“You have to change it and offer new options,” Walker said.  He plans to add steamed shrimp with Old Bay to this year’s menu in the upcoming weeks. “We think the food is pretty good. We try to elevate it.”

While there were no signs outside of St. Mary of Mills directing people where to go, the enticing smell of food easily led the crowd downstairs, where they found a room filled with people and smoke.

“Oven issues,” Walker said. “Once we get past the first and second fish fries, we’re OK. It’s a lot of work.”

Volunteers fill orders at the Feb. 24 fish fry
Photo credit: Katie V. Jones

Potter said they planned for about 80 people at the Feb. 24 fish fry. Around 6:30 p.m., an announcement was made that all the cooked fish was gone but more was being prepared.

“We are short staffed, but they do the best they can,” Potter said. “This is a lot of people.”

Profits from the fish fry benefit the Knights’ programs and help fund the church’s Catholic ministry in Africa by supporting seminarians and covering costs of construction projects.

“We had great support before COVID[-19] and didn’t know what to expect,” said Steve Hubbard, a Knights volunteer, as he gestured to the full room. “We are so appreciative of the support of the community.”

Steve Hubbard shows off a fish dinner.
Photo credit: Katie V. Jones

The Knights of Columbus Patuxent Council 2203 fish fries will be held every Friday through March 31 from 5 to 7:30 p.m. in the Breen room at St. Mary of the Mills, 114 St. Mary’s Place. 

The Knights of Columbus Council 14099 also hosts two fish fries on March 17 and 31, from 6 to 8 p.m., in  Kitko Hall at Resurrection of Our Lord Catholic Church at 8402 Brock Bridge Road.

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