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30 Minutes With...

Updated: Jun 16, 2019

...Mark Hendren, owner, The Fryery, Carlisle

How did you get into the industry?

I was born into it. Mam and dad started with a shop in 1980, a year after I arrived. I have nothing but fond memories of growing up in our little shop when drinks came in glass bottles, menu boards were made up of individual plastic letters forced into a blackboard full of holes, and everything was wrapped up in newspaper. I couldn’t wait to help and my big brother couldn’t wait to teach me all the things he knew that I didn’t.

What’s your favourite food?

I don’t really have one but the Mrs says anything spicy. In fact, she’s totally right, the hotter the better!

Is there a food you won’t eat?

Meringue because it’s scary. Why would anyone put that spongy sometimes crunchy stuff in their mouth? It’s wrong!

Where have you had the best fish and chips?

Bizzie Lizzies in Skipton. I had cod, chips and mushy peas and they were awesome. In 2005, me and my brother, Chris, had the pleasure of meeting Jean Ritson, the original founder, and her son Alan. They were kind enough to show us around their shops and give us some advice before opening our first restaurant in Carlisle. A real family business and true ambassadors of the trade.

What side do you have with your fish and chips?

Probably a 50/50 split between mushy peas and curry sauce.

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

Centre Parcs. We can’t get enough of the place. It’s proper family time, however, we feel it’s missing a trick. Traditional fish and chips would be the icing on the cake.

What is your go-to drink?

Good old Yorkshire tea. I love a cup of tea it just makes everything alright. My nanna used to say: “Many a problem solved over a good brew.”

What dish reminds you most of your childhood?

Tattie Pot. Dad had a thing of making this Cumbrian delicacy every chance he got. It consists of diced beef, black pudding and any veg that was lying around, thrown in a pot, covered in water and cooked all day long. I hated it then but have learned to love it over the years and now when we have it, it reminds me of him.

What is your guilty food pleasure?

Sweets. Anything chewy. I have been known to put wine gums in the fridge because they last longer and taste better when cold!

What’s been your weirdest food combination?

It’s not a combination but it’s got to be octopus in a can. I was on a ski trip in Austria and we thought it would be a good idea to have a game of cards and the loser had to eat the thing in the can. Who knows how long it had been in there, but the smell alone was not pleasant. It was not good and it tasted even worse on the way back up.

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

Probably digital menu boards. When creating a look for the shop we thought at the time that a traditional board would be better for a traditional menu because it’s very unlikely to change. But because of the ever-changing prices and uncertainty with raw materials, it would have been far easier to go digital.

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

My old man. Don’t get me wrong, dad could do his fair share of whining, but god did he know his stuff, especially when it came to customer service. He just seemed to know how to speak to people, to make them feel welcome and it was always about getting it right, believing in the product and never cutting corners. Sometimes it’s just nice knowing that there’s someone there to ask for advice or that little bit of reassurance from someone who has been through it, who took the risks and came out smelling of fish and chips.

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