The Fish Friers Review in conversation with Marc Thiart, Fish Bank Fish & Chips
When it comes to Namibia, the first thing you probably think of is an African country made famous for Jeremy Clarkson, James May and Richard Hammond driving across the Etosha National Park in three beaten up cars looking out for honey badgers. Namibia is now famous for its own fish and chip takeaway and restaurant!
What made you decide to open a fish and chip shop in Namibia?
The idea to open a fish and chip shop has been a while in the making, probably going back about 2 to 3 years. We thought it would be great to have a platform where we were able to be involved all the way from catching to serving – a way to showcase our truly Namibian resource.
Our parent company, Hangana Seafood, is committed to responsible and sustainable fishing in Namibian waters. Our vessels use the newest technology on its fishing gear, namely Fondo bottom trawls/Uruque trawls and also EL Cazador trawl doors/Thyboron trawl doors, as well as end mesh size of 110mm to prevent young fish from being caught.
The fishing industry in Namibia is thriving, the Windhoek, Namibia – the Namibia hake trawl and longline fishery has become the first fishery in Namibia, and the second in Africa, to meet the globally recognised standard for sustainable fishing set by the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC).
We had not heard of the NFFF until a UK colleague – Jim Bennett of Irvin and Johnson told us about the training courses on offer, and once we learnt that we decided learning the British way to fish and chips was the only way to go!
What challenges did you face setting up the shop?
COVID has been a major challenge for all and it’s no different for us. It has been mostly responsible for us only opening in February. Our management team has shown a great deal of trust in the concept to still go ahead with such an investment in these uncertain times. I also have an amazing team/committee that ensured that we remained on course.
How has trade been since you have opened?
Opening day saw more than 600 portions being served! It surpassed even our wildest expectations and since that day we have had constant trade daily. We are grateful for our community supporting us.
Do you have any difficulties in gaining supplies such as potatoes?
Not really, what we have found more of a challenge is getting into an ordering routine as we learn about daily portion quantities – fresh produce needs careful planning.
What are your future plans?
Our immediate plans are to introduce a Saturday menu with a larger choice of products including products like beer batter for instance. After that, we would like to open a second outlet in our capital of Windhoek as soon as possible. We have a wonderful opportunity, and we want to grow!
You travelled over to the UK to undertake training with the NFFF, how did the training benefit you?
I was amazed at the level of detail that went into every single portion. David Miller is a fish frying wizard – his knowledge is incredible. I would go as far as saying that not having gone on this training would have meant difficult opening – you don’t know what you don’t know!
Would you recommend training to others?
I would recommend that any person considering a similar venture attend the NFFF training course. Also being a member, I have had a lot of useful advice since the course. This has proven very helpful.