Starting with a Saturday job working for his local chippy when he was just 14, Matt Bedford now owns two thriving fish and chip takeaways in Peterborough called Fishtastic. While both boast traditional fish and chip shop fare, they’ve also moved with the times by introducing gluten free days, a healthier grilled menu and offering home delivery for the past seven years.
While both Fishtastics look the same and serve a similar mix of customers – mainly regular locals – each shop has its focus: Orton has the added advantage of offering a fish and chips delivery service while Cardea, just five miles away, pushes gluten free fish and chips as well as a grilled fish menu. It’s a combination which is seeing the business go from strength to strength.
In the 12 years since he opened the original shop in Orton, Matt has been using Ceres Natural Batter Mix for the last eight to nine.
Matt comments: “When I set up our first shop, I did everything the way I was taught but gradually you learn your own ways and so I began to do things differently. One of the things I switched was the way I cascade the oils across, but the batter then wasn’t right. I spoke to a friend and he put me in touch with Stelios at Ceres who sent me a sample of his Natural Batter Mix and I’ve been using it ever since.
“To be honest, every time Ceres has brought out a new product I’ve said “send me a sample, I would love to give it a go,” and generally I’ve switched over. And it was more through the confidence in Stelios as a person rather than anything else.
“He’s been very helpful and even if he’s not had the answer, he’s put me in touch with others that are using the same product or who perhaps have more experience. And that’s not just in terms of his products but others too. He’s always at the end of the phone to bounce ideas off of and he’s become a really good friend.”
Now using the whole Ceres range, including its Mushy Pea Seasoning, Gravy Mix, Curry Mix, plus its gluten free versions, one product Fishtastic has come to rely on is Ceres Fishcake Mix.
Matt adds: “We originally started using the Fishcake Mix just to make our fishcakes, but now we use it to make our cheese and onion patties, too.
“Over the years we’ve done various fishcakes. We started with the Thai fishcake that everyone was doing and then that tailed off so we did a salmon one and then a smoked haddock one.
Consistency is important to Matt, especially since opening his second shop. He adds: “You get the same product day in day out with Ceres and that’s what we want.
“But it’s not just the product, it’s the development sheets that come with the Ceres products as well. So, for example, with the Fishcake Mix, there’s a basic guide to making fishcakes, so now it’s not even me that makes them, generally my staff make them. They cook the peas, they make the curry sauce.
“Ceres takes a massive pressure off of me and the business. The big companies like McDonald’s, they are all automated and that’s all we’re doing, making it a bit more automated for the staff but we’ve still got that personal touch in each shop.