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On target

Stamping out single-use plastic, gaining the NFFF Quality Award and achieving MSC certification are just some of the issues 23-year-old Magda Ilioiu wants to tackle for The Real Food Cafe this year

Hi everyone, it’s been an exciting start to what has been a busy year already. At the National Fish & Chip Awards I had my two week old baby with me - many of you may have heard her crying, I think she was just cheering!

Coming second in the Drywite Young Fish Frier Competition was an amazing achievement for me. When my partner Adi and I came to Scotland two years ago, we didn’t expect to accomplish so much in such a short time. We now have a beautiful family, a lovely home and personal accomplishments: I’m the second best young frier in UK and Adi has successfully completed an SVQ. And we are not Scottish. So the point is, anyone can build a good life and successful career if they work hard in our industry.

With that in mind, I’m really keen to help make an effective contribution towards arresting the decline in young people entering our industry. I believe that by sharing my enthusiasm and experience I can help attract other young people to consider careers in hospitality. I want to promote the more attractive and satisfying aspects of our industry which include flexibility, working with great people and building valuable business skills.

This will help counter the perception that there is little more than working long, anti-social hours which has not been my experience. I have really enjoyed the start to my career in the industry and in particular working with loads of young people who enjoy their jobs.

That’s not all I’ve got planned for this year. As well as entering Drywite Young Fish Frier Competition again, my number one objective is to eradicate ‘one time use’ plastic at the Cafe by the end of 2018.

One of the ways we can achieve this is by encouraging purchase and use of our travel-mugs. This is a win-win for our customers since travel-mug holders receive free tea or coffee with food purchases at the Cafe and can use it instead of disposable cups elsewhere. We already use compostable plates and have introduced technology to prevent the release of starch into drains. I have been asked to do further research, to find new ways of making environmental improvements. This will include working with my industry contacts and sharing experiences. Potential benefits to our business include a substantial reduction of wastage and, hence, increased profit.

We’ve set ourselves the challenge of achieving the National Federation of Fish Friers Quality Award this year and I will have specific responsibilities for helping implement systems which ensure we consistently reach the highest standards of fish and chip preparation. We are confident that this commitment to consistency will spill over into all areas of our operation and we will become a continually improving organisation. In addition, we aim to attain MSC Certification for sustainability. This fits well with my other goals and objectives, and will help ensure that there are fish stocks for my young daughter to enjoy when she is my age!

As I said, it’s a busy year, so I am creating a monthly schedule of activities and events to ensure that I keep up with new ideas and developments as well as creating opportunities to inspire other young people to enter our wonderful industry with the intention of establishing rewarding and fulfilling careers.

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