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30 Minutes with…

…Elaine Williams, Genie Fish & Chips, Newton Powys

Where do you see fish and chips in 10 years?

It will still be around but the workforce will be better educated and standards much higher. I hope we will have returned to more traditional fish and chip shops where kebabs are not on the menu.

How did you get into the industry?

I got into the industry by accident. After being made redundant, I had planned to take on a small tea rooms but the deal fell through. The chap that held the lease on Genie Fish Bar wanted out and asked if I was interested. After a bit of thinking and chatting to my mom, I took it on. I had never worked in a chippy in my life! But here I am, three and a half years and a couple of awards later, and I love it. I have learnt so much, both about myself and the industry. The size of the fryers scared the living day lights out of me, and wrapping was a real challenge. The first thing I did was remove the kebab machines and start cooking all fish to order in a much lighter batter.

If you could change jobs with anyone else for the day who would it be?

Nobody. I have come into the fish and chip industry quite late, though I have worked in the hospitality industry in some way for 40 years, and I love it. But if I really had to, I would like to change jobs with a gardener and work outside all day.

What’s your favourite film?

Gremlins (the first one). I love the subtle humour in it. The pub scene has got to be one of the best things I have ever seen. The characters depicted could be seen in my local pub at the time on most Saturday nights!

What was the first music single you bought?

‘In the year 2525’ by Zager and Evans. I’m not sure why I bought it, I just liked it, I guess. It cost me seven shillings and six pence and I still have it and can still play it on my turn table.

Do you have a nickname?

Not so much a nickname but my CB call sign was ‘Crazy Lady’ and my staff think of me as Crazy Boss Lady. Don’t think I need to say more.

What did you want to be as a child?

I wanted to be a vet because I liked animals. I changed my mind when my dog died at the vets.

If you could have anyone join your team who would it be?

Mitch Tonks.  I love the Rockfish concept, which I only discovered recently. The idea of having a quality seafood restaurant with a fish and chip takeaway alongside is something I have tried to do here, but on a much lower budget. I also love how he is in partnership with his local college, helping to train future generations of foodies. I would like to make Genie Fish and Chips a training academy so that local teenagers could learn to do something that would give them an opportunity to have employment anywhere, at any time, and feel that he could help me do that. It would also help my business to have a great chef working here.

What’s your favourite food?

Good old liver and onions both griddled quickly with lashings of good gravy, creamy buttery mash and homemade mushy peas. Great comfort food that is cheap and healthy.

What sports team do you support?

I don’t follow any team sports. I am more into car and bike racing and I really admire people like Guy Martin and John McGuinness for their skills at the Isle of Man TT and their ‘down to earth’ attitude.

If you could meet anyone in the world, dead or alive, who would it be and what would you ask them?

Princess Diana and I would ask her why she married Charles and if all the stuff about her affairs was true.

If you were Prime Minister for a day what’s the first thing you would do?

Close all retail outlets on Christmas and Boxing Day. I cannot see for the life of me why they need to be open. Christmas should be the one time of the year when we can all give ourselves a present and spend time doing what we want to do, not what someone else tells us we have to do. Those with families should be able to spend the time with their kids if that’s what they want to do. Those that want to be alone should also be able to be alone. 

If you could go back in time what year would you choose?

May 8th 1945, VE Day and the end of the Second World War. The celebrations must have been great, but the best thing of all was how the communities pulled together to hold street parties and support each other.

Do you have any hobbies?

Yes when I have time I like to knit or go walking.

What question would you like to ask our next “30 minutes with”? 

What is your greatest achievement and why?

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