Champion George Vows to Sign Up Young Friers
by Austen Dack and George Papadamou
Tell us a little bit about the history of Papas?
Papa’s is a family business which has been in operation since 1966. We have recently celebrated our 50th Anniversary in Fish and Chips and are proud to say we are as passionate today about fish and chips as we were back in 1966. We now operate 4 restaurants across Cleethorpes, Hull and Scarborough.
At what age did you first go into the family chippy?
Like most who have grown up in fish and chips, it’s hard to pin point the exact point at which I joined the family business. Helping out and ‘chipping in’ was common place in our family, and as we enjoy it so much, it genuinely has never really felt like work.
My earliest memory in the fish and chip shop was watching my dad with admiration on a busy Friday night behind the pans… I’ve been ‘hooked’ ever since.
Fish and chips wasn’t your only profession,what did you also train in?
I spent 5 years training to be a doctor. However, after growing up in Fish and Chips, it was only natural that id return to the family business. I really don’t feel like I’ve done a days work since leaving life as a doctor. Running restaurants is demanding, but we thoroughly enjoy what we do and wouldn’t change it for the world.
You use Nortech superior in your shops – how long have you been using it?
We have been using nortech for more than a decade. We had always had a great relationship with Derek from T Quality. We completely trusted him when he recommended with try Superior Beef Dripping. We are extremely grateful he did as we haven’t looked back since!
What are the reasons for using Nortech?
We were determined to capture that traditional ‘Fish and Chip Shop’ taste and nortech has helped us achieve that. It sets the bar for refined and deodorised beef dropping, with its clean yet traditional flavour.
It can also be enjoyed with a clear conscience – nortech superior beef dripping is naturally low in trans fats, non hydrogenated and delivers great performance when frying.
It’s also a great added benefit that all of the beef used is fully traceable back to British farms – our customers expect transparency across the board, and our frying medium is no different.
How do you ensure consistent quality between them?
Maintaining quality for us comes down to selecting the right ingredients, the right equipment and the right team. We don’t cut corners when it comes to our raw ingredients and put as much effort as we do into our frying medium as we do our other core ingredients.
We have always chosen Kiremko for our frying ranges, and believe this sets a high standard amongst all of our restaurants. We invest a lot of effort into staff training and development have an exceptionally competent team we are thoroughly proud of.
How many Papas do you think you will have in ten years?
We are passionate about great tasting fish and chips. Our expansion is completely dictated by our ability to ensure that we can serve a high quality product across all of our restaurants. We never want to compromise that as we expand. Because of that, we focus far more on working hard in the restaurants we have, as apposed to searching for new locations.
What is great about the industry?
We genuinely believe this is the ‘Golden Age’ for fish and chips. The industry has never been stronger and the product has never been better quality. The freshness of the quality of ingredients being delivered is sublime, the technology in the equipment is phenomenal and the resources we have to train and motivate our team are improving each year.
We have made some amazing friends in the industry, everyone keen to drive it forward in their own unique way. The combined strength of these like minded ‘independents’ makes our national dish a force to be reckoned with. The comradery displayed amongst these individuals is conducive to industry wide growth and success. We are extremely optimistic about the future of fish and chips.
What is it like owning a pier?
The pier is a beautiful and iconic landmark. I don’t really think you can ever have a sense of ownership over something so historic.
I would say it was more a sense of responsibility to the local community. The people of East Lincolnshire care very much about their Pier and we are determined to ensure that it is something that shall be enjoyed by all for many years to come. Making the Pier the world’s largest fish and chip shop seems the ideal opportunity to do that.
You won young fish Frier this year, best advice for other young friers?
The best advice I could offer young friers is to enter. You really have got to be in it to win it. I put off entering for so many years, and used so many different excuses in the process.
If you don’t make it as far as you hoped your first year, enter again! The competition is all about personal growth and development and the judging process realises and nurtures that. The great thing is, although this is a personal competition, ultimately the rewards are realised in the shop – we have seen an amazing response to me being crowned with the title this year! I will sign as many new young fish friers this year as I can.
What do you plan for 2017 PR wise following your amazing £1 day?
The pressures on since winning our Marketing and Innovation award at the National Fish and Chip awards!
We’ve spent the last couple of months coming up with some really exciting campaigns. We had just finished planning them and hope to be rolling them out very soon. We have always been consistent in our message – encapsulating our sustainable, locally sourced guilt free message – but delivered it in a fun, entertaining and unorthodox manner. We hope to continue that theme into 2017.
Papas are a main speaker at this year’s field to Frier day at Isle of Ely – why is the journey of the potato so important – as a field to Frier finalist how do you ensure quality?
We are honoured and excited to be joining the list of high profile names who have already presented at the isle of Ely open day. The day is tremendously useful and a must on any fish and chip enthusiasts calendar.
Like our Beef Dripping, potatoes are another core ingredient. Over looking anyone one of these core ingredients lets the whole dish down.
It’s essential to have a merchant or farmer you trust. However, you can’t become dependant on anyone person. If you’re serving it up, your sustainers will only hold you accountable for the quality of the meal, it’s no good blaming the potato merchant if a customer complains about their chips!
Having a sound knowledge on potatoes helps tremendously – learning about the seasonal variations is important to set realistic expectations to your supplier. However, I’d never be happy to accept a poor quality potato.
Learning about the sugar content and dry matter of your potatoes will be beneficial in treating them and making sure you get the best out of every sack delivered.
You have a real family business is it something you can see your little family doing too?
We are in our third generation now, and hope to see that trend continue. I’m always amazed to hear people say they don’t want their children to get into fish and chips. I thoroughly enjoy fish and chips and would love for my children to be as passionate about it as I am.