FE Limousin meet Derek & Jackie Payne from Fish et Frites
When FrenchEntrée-Limousin discovered there was a new mobile fish and chip shop opening in the Limousin, we didn’t need asking twice to go and find out for ourselves what all the fuss was about.
With your correspondent having spent his formative years living by the sea he could almost smell the salt and vinegar and hear the seagulls. So off we went to the decidedly land locked Le Dorat to sample the wares. The fish and chips were everything we’d hoped for. Crispy batter encasing pure white cod with thick cut and very tasty chips. Yes, chips. Not French Fries, frites or even freedom fries. These were the real Mccoy. We washed them down with a draught Guinness a piece at La Petite Fontaine bar where we were welcome to sit and eat our supper and enjoy a drink. They even provided us with real knives and forks and extra salt and vinegar. How very civilised.
After we’d finished our fishy feast we caught up with Jackie and Derek Payne whose brainchild the mobile chippy was, for a quick chat:
FEL: Hi Jackie and Del. How long have you been up and running?
FF: We started on Friday 25th April making this our sixth week. We wanted to get started before May so that we would have the chance to iron out any teething problems before the summer holidays.
FEL: What made you decide on a fish and chip business?
FF: We saw the possibilities in 2004 when a local bar-tabac had a fish and chip night; the place was packed, so the idea has been on a back burner since then. It’s also something completely different to what anyone else is doing. The business is unique to this area. Yes, restaurants have the odd fish and chip night, but we are mobile so we choose where we go and the trailer is fitted out with the frying range. Our trailer has been purpose built to cater for fish and chips fitted with a three pan frying range
FEL: Did you do something similar in the UK?
FF: No, but we did help out friends at our local chippy as and when they required help. You can learn a lot from hands on experience but we have also taken additional training in an effort to get things right from the start.
FEL: What research did you do before hand?
FF: We contacted a couple of other mobile chippies in France to see what demand they had and how the fared with French bureaucracy. We also spoke to the locals, French and English, to gauge their response and to see if it was a viable project.
FEL: Do you source your ingredients from here or the UK?
FF: Some of our ingredients/supplies inevitably come from the UK but we have tried to source from local suppliers as much as possible and we will be adding a locally produced organic sausage in the near future.
The fish is North Atlantic cod from a sustainable source and is filleted by us and we’ve invested in the equipment which enables us to produce proper traditional English thick cut chips so we don’t have to rely on frozen.
FEL: How was the first night in your new venture?
FF: Totally overwhelming! We were so shocked and grateful for everyone who turned out to support us. We had an idea it would busy but never in our dreams did we think we would sell out after only 2 hours frying. The hardest part is keeping the queues down to a reasonable level.
French bureaucracy is legendary. How you have found it?
FF: Every country has its downside and the French bureaucracy is world renowned. Fortunately we have had a business advisor (Lindsey Queriaud from Cast) with us all the way. Her services have been invaluable, helping us with things from translating a 30 page business plan right through to meeting with the Chambre de Metier and hygiene services.
FEL: What do you wish you had known before you started?
FF: A dishwasher the size of a trailer does not exist. People see us selling fish and chips for two to three hours a night and sometimes think we have it made. What they don’t see is all of the preparation and most of all the two and a half hours of cleaning we do when we return home. Most nights that we’re out selling we collapse into bed at around 1:00 am. So it is really hard work and which we have had to adjust to. We are however getting into a routine now and everything is getting a little easier and much better organised.
FEL: What plans do you have for the future?
FF: Plenty, but for the moment we are working on an online shopping page as an addition to our web site. We have to return to England for various stock products every six weeks or so. The idea is simple; to use that trip to fill peoples needs for English food. The prices will be lower than the supermarkets (not difficult) and will be further reduced for the customer when they are buying in larger quantities. We aim to have a chiller van so frozen goods will be added to the product list available. The service is aimed at people who are happy to plan ahead and buy bulk orders to last them a couple of months.
For more information on Fish et Frites, opening times and venues visit:
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