Expert Eye: Geoff Whitehead, Whiteheads Fish & Chips, Hornsea, East Yorkshire

Home » Interviews » Expert Eye: Geoff Whitehead, Whiteheads Fish & Chips, Hornsea, East Yorkshire

Three-quarters of the way through his reign as winner of Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year, Geoff Whitehead is planning a £210,000 equipment overhaul to ensure standards remain high

Since winning Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year in February, the shop is 30% up so I’m reinvesting all the profit we’ve made from this year into two new frying ranges, new cooking facilities for my condiments and my pies, as well as new stainless steel units, sides and tables. I’m also re-doing my storeroom with all-new food-grade stainless steel shelving, plus putting in new ceilings and floors and upgrading the restaurant and the toilets again.

I’m constantly upgrading and it’s for two reasons: to maintain and improve our high standards and to make everything run more efficiently all round. 

I’m bringing in a new two pan frying range specifically for gluten free because, where we have been so busy, gluten free sales have gone through the roof and we only have a single pan to do gluten free chips and fish right now. When you are getting 10-15 gluten free orders in one go, it’s too much. 

I’m also coming away from a gas cooker to a fan-assisted electric oven with an induction hob so we can now cook our pies and mushy peas while also doing our little bit for the environment. 

And then front-of-house we are upgrading our current island range to a brand new five pan range which will be coming in January. Again, it is all about ensuring standards are kept high – and making sure the equipment is reliable and efficient is all part of that. I honestly cannot emphasise it enough, if you don’t keep your equipment up-to-date, standards will fall.

It’s also a worthwhile investment because you can claim tax relief, which helps reduce the cost of any new equipment. For example, you can claim your VAT back and you’ve got a 25% tax deduction for depreciation as well. On top of that, with the efficiency of today’s new frying ranges, if you’ve got an old range and you buy a new one, the gas benefit will more than cover what you’re paying for a new range. 

As well as the shop being busier, winning Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year has given my staff some amazing opportunities. 

I’ve had two members just come back from Japan where they cooked our fish and chips at the Hankyu British Fair. They absolutely loved it and as well as frying fish and chips non-stop for two weeks to a queue of people out the door, they also enjoyed some free time. How many friers can say they have been on the bullet train? 

And this month, I’ve got another member of staff coming to Iceland with me to fry fish and chips for a three-day festival. It’s just been an amazing experience so far for us all and I’m not ready for it to end!

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