The fish and chip van taking West Berkshire by storm
PUBLISHED: 14:31 09 July 2019
We catch up with Chris Harris, one of the men behind the fish and chip van that's taking West Berkshire by storm
There is little else that's as quintessentially British as a good old portion of fish and chips. For many of us, it is synonymous with holidays and time spent at the beach, and the age-old debate about which is the best out of ketchup, curry sauce, mushy peas or gravy will always rumble on (it's curry sauce though, right?).
The nation's love of this dish is something that Chris Harris and business partner Paul Brandon know all too well: back in 2013 they created Go Fish & Chips, which serves proper, freshly cooked food, but where they stand out from the crowd is that there is no shop, and instead they do it all from a mobile van that tours around Berkshire villages.
This van was recently named as one of the UK's top 10 by Fry Magazine after impressing a mystery diner, an accolade which means a huge amount to the duo.
"They said that the service was really attentive and we got full marks for the food. The diner also said the fish was really flakey, that the batter was light and that the chips were crunchy," Chris says proudly.
Chris and Paul first met whilst working in the restaurant industry, and the rapidly increasing popularity of street food at the time gave them an idea: to transform the somewhat negative image of the catering van, and to bring fish and chips fresh to people's doors around the county.
"A lot of people think of a mobile van as being big and dirty and greasy, but that's what they were like 30 years ago," Chris says.
They did their research and found that there was a huge gap in the market for fish and chips done well, and they also realised that mobile fish and chip vans were already a common sight in the north, but almost non-existent in our local area. The business was born, and it was only up from there.
"Once we'd set it up, Paul found out that his grandparents used to have a fish and chip shop van too," Chris adds - it seems that fate also had a part to play, then.
They now bring their fish and chips to Yattendon, Upper Basildon and Bradfield Southend three nights a week, parking up at either the village hall or the church. Although the van is now a roaring success, Chris explains that the locals needed some convincing to begin with: "When we first started, I got in contact with parish councils and I think people has the stigma that it was going to be like a kebab van and they weren't keen. Once we got started, we were asked to go to loads more villages, but now the struggle is finding the time!"
They also do private hire, catering for everything from corporate events to festivals to weddings. The food is always freshly made to order and sourced from local suppliers, and the condiments and sauces are all homemade. It's not just fish and chips, either: "We do all sorts of things, so zucchini fries, battered halloumi, battered mushrooms; lots of vegetarian options," Chris explains.
They are able to cater for all dietary requirements, with an alternative batter that is gluten-free and suitable for vegans to ensure that no-one goes hungry.
The future looks bright for Chris and Paul, with big plans in the pipeline for the coming years. "The thing we keep coming back to is the possibility of opening up a shop," Chris says.
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