30 Minutes With: Nigel Derrett, Newington Fish Bar, Ramsgate, Kent

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Newington Fish Bar

How did you get into the industry?

My brother and I were working as chefs in different restaurants and we had both just started families. With that type of work we never seemed to be home to see the children. The opportunity came up to buy Newington Fish Bar, a small run-down chip shop, and we decided to split the working hours – 9am to 4pm morning shift and 4pm to 12pm evening shift – then alternate each week, giving us time at home. That was the start of a long venture.

What’s your favourite food? 

It’s either a Sunday roast lamb, BBQ ribs or chicken, but if I’m having a Chinese takeaway it’s chow mein and ribs and it won’t matter if I spill the sauce down my front!

Is there a food you won’t eat?

I just can’t stand peas or baked beans, they make me gag.

Where have you had the best fish and chips?

I don’t often have fish and chips when I’m away, but I did enjoy some from Henley’s of Wivenhoe and the mobile Pimp My Fish.

What side is a must with your fish and chips?

Well, not liking peas or beans, I’m quite happy with a little salad and mayo or I’ll slum it with ketchup.

If you could open a fish and chip shop anywhere, where would it be?

I’ve always loved the southwest of England but there’s already some stiff competition down there. I think my wife would say Florida, but she would leave me working while she enjoyed the shopping malls! 

Do you have a favourite restaurant?

We really only use restaurants when we are away from home and usually end up in larger chains. If we’re talking Florida then there’s a long list of favourites.

What is your go-to drink?

I always say I drank enough as a teenager to last me a lifetime so quite often I’ll just have orange juice, but I still enjoy a lager with a meal.

What dish reminds you most of your childhood?

The meal I remember the most as a child is my mum’s braised minced beef with boiled potatoes and pastry cooked as a flat sheet.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Anything sweet: ice cream, cheesecake, cream cakes, need I go on?

What’s been your weirdest food combination? 

Back when we first started in the early eighties, we did things like battered frogs legs and shark steaks (this was before we became more aware of animal welfare). Everyone said they tasted like chicken!

What one piece of equipment would you love to purchase for your business?

Equipment to cook BBQ chicken and ribs properly. I’ve also got my eye on the OilChef to make the oil last longer.

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