In this week’s blog we got the chance to talk to Rafael from Hillycroft Fisheries! Rafael talks us through how he first got into the Fish & Chip industry and well as telling us what the thinks are the most important factors when running a Fish & Chip shop!
Hillycroft Fisheries have a 4 pan High Efficiency Counter Range featuring Active Triple Filtration, Mirror Doors and Halo Lighting.
How did you first get into the Fish & Chip industry?
By accident! I was looking for a part time job when I was 15 and started working as a waiter in a fish and chip restaurant. The owner is actually a Florigo customer and I believe they were one of the first Fish & Chip shops to hold the Seafish Quality Award when it was launched, so I had a very good mentor. I started working part time but when I finished my A-levels I continued to work there full time and learnt a lot more about the industry including how to fry and do potato prep etc.
What’s favourite memory of Hillycroft Fisheries?
It has to be the day I took over and finally getting the keys. It was a shop I was interested in for many years and the previous owner was probably sick of me asking him if he was ready to sell. The sale was part of a chain because I was selling my previous shop to purchase Hillycroft, so making sure everything lined up and went through as it should was quite stressful. Also gaining the NFFF Quality Award within 2 months was a fantastic achievement and superb effort by my team. Having only been at Hillycroft for just over a year I hope there will be lots more memories to look back on in the future.
What are the 3 most important factors you believe are essential in running a successful fish and chip shop?
Consistency, consistency and consistency. Using natural ingredients such as potatoes, fish and flour to create our product presents a lot of challenges. I believe the big fast food chains are so successful because they are consistent, and customers know what to expect. Achieving this with our product is very challenging, which is why you need to invest in the best equipment, staff training and have procedures for everything you do.
Why did you choose a Florigo range?
I wanted the best frying range for my shop and I truly believe that Florgio build the best range! The build quality is unrivalled and the back up and support from the engineering department is excellent. I needed a range that would not only allow me to keep up during busy shifts, but also produce the same top-quality product during a quieter shift. The basket frying system on the Florigo allows me to do this with ease. I love the attention to detail too with the mirrored glass doors and halo lighting. When you buy a Florigo you’re not just buying a piece of equipment, you are buying a solution and Florigo are great at coming up with the best bespoke design to suits your needs. I don’t just feel like a customer either, I feel part of the ‘Florigo family’.
How does frying Florigo benefit your business?
Frying with our Florigo massively helps us to produce a top-quality consistent product no matter who is frying. The temperature controls and timers help in taking the guess work out of frying leaving the fryer to concentrate on getting the batter just right. The in-built triple filtration is outstanding and truly the best on the market. It helps us to manage our oil and coupled with good oil management means we barely every have to throw any oil away. As I said above for me consistency is essential, a lot of shops will throw oil meaning that one day you are frying in fresh oil and the next in older oil which affects consistency. This system allows us to manage this safely, quickly and easily and keep our oil in the optimum condition.
What’s your favourite dish from a Fish & Chip shop?
Being in Leeds customers expect Haddock in my shop, however if I visit another Fish & Chip shop with Cod on the menu I always opt for Cod & Chips, and it has to be served with proper homemade mushy peas and some tartare sauce.
What’s your greatest achievement so far?
This is easy, it has to be becoming a father to my two daughters.
In my career though I think the greatest achievement was when I finally achieved the Quality Award from the NFFF. I had wanted to achieve this for a lot of years, but I waited until I had the right shop and I could afford to invest the money into getting it to the standard required. There had been a lot of blood, sweat, tears and arguments to get to that stage but I had a vision and when I finally achieved it, it was a great feeling.
What does the future hold of Hillycroft Fisheries?
It is still very much early days. Hillycroft is a long-term plan for me and at the moment we are busy tweaking a few things to get our product and practices perfectly tuned. I think over the next 5 years it would be great to get to a level where I feel we can compete in the National Fish & Chip shop of the year and be in the top 10.
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