It’s been a week since our friend Charlie Collins took the Drywite Young Fish Frier trophy back to Frydales in Leicester. We caught up with the 24-year-old to find out what impact the competition has had on him and his business.
From being on the radio the day after the 2020 National Fish & Chip Awards to appearing in the local newspaper on the Saturday, news of Charlie’s win has quickly spread and business has increased 25%, with Sunday being double a normal a Sunday.
“I didn’t think it would make a difference but it seemed to have an effect, whether it’s sustained or not we’ll see,” says Charlie.
Entering the competition has had a huge effect on Charlie, who won this year after his third time of entering. “It’s really improved my skills as a frier and showed me that there are several different ways to do things.” he explains. “It showed me absolute best practice and then how to adapt that to suit my own business depending on my menu.
“It’s also helped me train my staff better. You see the other trainers training you and you take that back to the shop and replicate it.”
The business has also benefited from a notable improvement in food quality. Charlie explains: “Before I entered the competition we had big portions, we were trying to bring people in on price and size whereas now we’ve moved to the side where it’s quality over quantity.
“The competition helped me learn about profit margins and things like that, not just trying to tick all the boxes for the customers. Over the last couple of years, with commodity prices going through the roof, it has helped so much having that training so I know what my margins are and how to adapt.”
The competition has also taught Charlie that it’s not about getting as many people through the door as quickly as possible, but creating the right customers that are going to keep the business going.
“It’s no good having customers that buy on price because when someone cheaper comes along you are going to lose them.”
With little else support specifically for youngsters coming into the industry, Charlie believes the opportunities and the people he’s met through Drywite Young Fish Frier have helped enormously.
“There are a few business courses and there are a few chef-related courses you can do, but fish and chips-wise there isn’t really anything else available.
“I got to visit Millers Fish & Chips, Fred Capel invited me down to his shop to see how he does things, Mark Petrou has been really helpful, Mark Drummond as well,” he explains. “They are all at the end of the phone. When you’ve got a problem and you need an opinion, to have that list of names to ring or drop a text to is just invaluable.”
With the focus now on him, Charlie is keen to invite fellow young friers to his two shops as well as get out there and visit many more himself. “I want to soak up as much information as I can while everyone knows who I am!” he says.
If you’re under 25 years of age and are thinking of entering Drywite Young Fish Frier next year, find out more by clicking here