Updated: Jul 31, 2019
Andy Hillier, area sales manager for the south, Florigo
How did you get into the industry?
I came into the industry by chance. I was working at a gastropub and the business closed unexpectedly. I was still young with no real clue what my career was going to be. I needed a job. And I needed one quick. Harbourside Fish & Chips in Plymouth offered me a role, with my first weekend one of the busiest - and hottest - on record. I was shattered, yet the adrenaline was going good and strong and, straight away, I knew I wasn't moving away from this industry anytime soon.
What's your favourite food?
Obvious, isn’t it? Fish and chips! Am I not allowed to be that obvious? In which case, I think my favourite food must be a very well-cooked roast dinner with plenty of vegetables, crispy potatoes and a delicious stock-based gravy poured over perfectly cooked meat. Perfection!
Is there a food you won’t eat?
Nuts. I have tried multiple times, but I just cannot get on with nuts, especially peanuts. Don’t understand it. Vile things! Peanut butter, walnuts on a carrot cake, even hazelnut-based chocolates, get in the bin!
Where have you had the best fish and chips?
Since I started my new career at Florigo, there have been two shops that have stood out. Pisces Fish and Chips in Yate, Bristol, was simply amazing. They use a blend of two frying mediums, which works brilliantly, and their homemade tartare sauce was so packed full of flavour that you had to only dab it slightly on a bite of fish.
The other is Merchants in Bewdley. The way they cook their food is spot on; the flavour from the fish and potatoes is amazing.
What side is a must with your fish and chips?
The one side I always ask for is a good wedge of lemon and then plenty of tartare sauce.
If you could open a fish and chip shop anywhere, where would it be?
A seaside location that is not too far away to dissuade winter customers, but far enough so that I feel like I am on holiday most of the time whilst working as well. I strongly recommend people pay a visit to New Quay in Wales. It’s a little cut-off, but the Welsh roads are fantastic, and you can get there from Bridgend within 90 minutes.
Do you have a favourite restaurant?
Blackhouse - The Grill on the Square in Leeds. To this day it is still one of the best steak meals I have experienced.
What is your go-to drink?
I think it’s the go-to drink for the industry - gin! The only difference with me is that I cannot stand tonic water.
What dish reminds you most of your childhood?
Seafood was always enjoyed in our household so, if we ate out, fish and chips was a very regular dish.
What is your guilty food pleasure?
Lately, I have found myself becoming addicted to chicken-based dishes and establishments. TGI Fridays do an amazing firecracker chicken, Nando’s Fino Pitta is delicious and filling, and who doesn’t like the odd KFC?
What’s been your weirdest food combination?
One day, about four years ago, one of the front staff had some chips fresh from the pan, but they got distracted and left a bar of chocolate on top of the chips which then melted. Don’t knock it until you try it; fresh chips with melted chocolate actually works very well.
What one piece of equipment would you recommend friers purchase for their shop?
A Florigo range of course! Not allowed to be biased? OK then, if you are installing deep sinks invest a little more and be sure to have an aqua-jet hose fitted to the taps. They aren't cheap but they make life a lot easier when cleaning equipment.