Fish and Chips is the UK’s most recognisable culinary tradition and is loved the world over. With so many expats living around the globe the demand for authentic fish and chip shops is on the up with more and more people looking for a taste of home.
With this comes the responsibility of maintaining the tradition and quality standards set by the UK industry while dealing with a very different environment, local customer base and supply chain.
Last month Carlyn Kearney, 2013’s National Fish & Chip Awards ‘Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year’ and the 2014 champion, Leigh Foster from Whitley Bay, Tyne and Wear were given the opportunity to travel to Singapore and work with Smiths Fish and Chips in its two businesses. The trip, sponsored by Drywite, was to give the two girls first-hand experience into how a traditional fish and chip shop operates in Asia, as well as to pass on their knowledge and expertise.
Carlyn, who works at Frankie’s Fish and Chips in Brae, Shetland, the current Scottish winner of Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, explained: “Frankie’s is a family business which I’ve been part of since it opened in 2008. So, having never worked anywhere else, I was really looking forward to seeing how another business operates, especially one on the other side of the world. The opportunity to travel to Singapore was a once in a lifetime chance to experience the country’s unique culture while getting a different outlook from a business perspective.
“The biggest difference in Singapore was temperature. I acknowledge that, as I live on an island in the middle of the North Sea it is colder than most places, but this was extremely hot and humid. After we had worked a few shifts we quickly realised how much of an effect it has on everything.
“With a temperature of 32 degrees, air con was essential, not just for us melting away behind the fryer but more importantly for all of the raw ingredients required to make great fish and chips. All ordinary procedures became much more complicated from defrosting fish to storing whole and chipped potatoes.
“The trip as a whole was an amazing learning experience. Being given the opportunity by Smiths owner Paul Lawless to identify areas which we felt could be refined and improved was one of the best parts of the trip for myself and Leigh. We demonstrated how we would prepare and cook fish and chips, then compared our finished product to what Smiths served to its customers. Thankfully our fish and chips came out on top and we were given permission to implement our alterations to the cooking process in the two shops.
“Training the staff to change the way they prepared for service and more importantly helping them to understand why was a big but exciting challenge. I think we take for granted the two fantastic training schools we have in the UK dedicated to driving standards in the fish and chip trade.
“The entire trip was mind blowing and huge for my career development. I would urge any young person involved in the industry to enter the National Fish & Chip Awards’ Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year category. The support and access I’ve had to help enhance my skills and knowledge has been just second to none.”