Name: Pete Calvert
Shop: Mister C’s Selby, North Yorkshire
In the beginning
I joined Mister C’s in June 2012 as a Counter Assistant, after an accident in the Army resulted in me being medically discharged. I originally took the job as a chance to earn money and train to re-join the Army, however in the first few weeks of working there I discovered I really enjoyed working with the team and meeting the customers.
Having decided I liked the job I decided to expand my understanding and was given the opportunity to do some training, I achieved several qualifications in Customer Services which has helped me a great deal when working with the general public. I have also completed an Intermediate Apprenticeship in Fish & Shellfish, Level 2 Food Safety and a Customer Skills Assessment with the National Federation of Fish Fryers (NFFF).
After I had completed these training courses and began to understand how the business worked I was offered the opportunity to apply for the job of Assistant Manager which I couldn’t wait to do – I was really pleased when I was told I got the job. It gave me a chance to start seeing not only more of how the shop works but also I started to see the bigger picture of the industry which I found completely fascinating. This eventually led to me being promoted to Shift Manager.
My ambition to be a Fryer came true
Most recently, I was given to opportunity to train as a Fryer this had been my ambition since I first started working at Mister C’s. The training that Mark, Denise, Danny and Amy have given me is extensive and enjoyable, it was also extremely tough, I was pushed to the limit to make sure that I could produce the high-quality products required to uphold the shop’s reputation.
In February 2017, I attended an introduction to the Drywite Young Fish Fryer of The Year competition, which was a day workshop held at the NFFF Training Academy in Leeds, there I met Mark Drummond, Dan Harding, Nicky Lewis and George Papadamou. This was the day that I decided that I wanted to try and enter the Young Fish Frier competition more than anything. After learning fish cutting methods from Mark, and potato preparation from Dan, I started to see the various methods used throughout the industry which sparked a passion that I never thought I had and after George had given his presentation and speaking to him afterwards, I went back buzzing and told Mark that I had to give it a try.
Getting ready for the competition
The support I continue to receive is truly overwhelming from Mark, sharing his 37 years of experience in the industry, both Danny and Amy’s experience and ongoing training and Denise’s motherly push has been so important to me. This support and training has helped me to see problems and better my frying skills, but it also made me realise how tough it was going to be, but it did little to deter me from trying.
Round 1 – The Questionnaire
When the first round came out, I couldn’t wait to get stuck into the Questionnaire, I found this quite intense at first but after going through it at work I finally completed it, this took a few attempts, each one made better after spotting mistakes and making it look better each time. Overall, I spent around 3 weeks before sending it off to be judged.
Round 2 – The Skype Interview
When I found out that I had made it through to the next round I was relieved after all the effort I had put in – I was so glad that it had paid off. The next round was the Skype Interview, everyone I had spoken to told me that this was the most daunting round in the entire competition. This involved 5 questions being asked during the
Skype Interview about the industry and could include anything about fish, potatoes, preparation, operations of a shop and so much more. I decided to learn and write down as many notes as possible about as many aspects that could be thrown at me and asked some of my colleagues to quiz me to test my knowledge and help me to remember as many facts as I could.
When it came to the day of the Skype Interview I felt confident in my knowledge, but I was nervous as this was the first time I had ever had to give answers to questions in an interview situation, I knew I was determined to try my best. I set up my laptop in my kitchen away from any distractions and used my headphones, which helped as I could clearly hear the questions asked. After each question was asked, I took a moment to think and study my notes rather than just diving in and rushing into answering each question. After the interview was done I was unbelievably relieved and couldn’t wait to hear the results. When the results were announced, and Nicky told me I had made it through to the top 10, I was thrilled I couldn’t believe it at first since this was my first year trying for the Award. Once the news had sunk in I felt that anything further would be a bonus from here on, but I was looking forward to the next round.
Round 3 – Semi Final Skills Day
Round 3 was the Semi Final Skills Day at the NFFF Training Academy in Leeds, this was the round I had been looking forward to the most. This was my chance to show the skills I had spent the last year and half learning in front of the some the best in the industry. I would be tested on my preparation knowledge and skills with fish,
potatoes and batter, my frying skills and knowledge. I also had to give a presentation on my career at Mister C’s and a chance to show my passion for the industry as well as show my PR skills and how I had promoted myself since reaching the top 10.
When I arrived, I couldn’t wait to get started, I was nervous and excited at the same time, I had no idea what to expect but when I arrived the judges were incredibly nice and encouraging which calmed my nerves
and I felt more comfortable. It was a long day, but I gave my all in each part of it, I showed how passionate and proud I was to be part of such a large and important industry and I left feeling like I had given my best.
All I could do then was wait for the results – when they came, and I was told I had made it through to the top 5 I was completely overwhelmed I even had to ask Nicky if she was being serious!
When it was published on social media, the amount of congratulations I received from people in the industry, friends and family and my colleagues at Mister C’s made me feel incredibly proud of what I had achieved. I then decided now I had gotten this far I had to go for it and do my best to win it.
The Final Round – Mystery Shop & Inspection
The 4th and final round was a mystery shop and inspection of Mister C’s to show my skills in the shop. The fourth round could take place at any time over three days each week, for a 3-week period. Because we didn’t know when the judge would arrive, I had to be in the shop frying all day, it was the most nervous time I had felt during the entire competition, I had no idea when or who the mystery shopper would be, so every single customer was a suspect. When I looked over and saw Nicky with Kelvin and Fred Capel in the shop I felt relieved and nervous at the same time, me and the team had been w
orking tirelessly to have the shop gleaming and make it stand out we were all tremendou
sly proud of how the shop was looking. When I greeted them, I could feel myself shaking but once I had sat down and started talking with them I felt calm and gathered myself, I took them round the shop and show them all the areas from the storage areas, preparation rooms and the frying range, they seemed impressed with what they saw. After the judges left I sat down and let out the biggest sigh of relief ever, I had given 100% throughout the entire competition and all I could do was wait for the results!
The wait for the Award Ceremony day
The next few months felt like years, I continued to work in the shop as a Shift Manager and kept busy to take my mind off the wait, but it was still there, I was eager to find out the results but no matter what happened I was so happy to have gotten as far as I did.
It was until the last two weeks before the Award Ceremony that it began to sink in, suddenly it felt like the months had flown by. The day before the Awards I arrived in London with excitement and nerves, I had been given so much support from the staff at Mister C’s, my friends and customers as well as from so many people in the industry. I finally had the chance to speak to the other Finalists and had an amazing night with them, it was so nice to speak to them about how they had found the Competition, their own methods of how they operate their shops.
25th January 2018, 11am – Royal Lancaster Hotel, London
The day of the Awards came, and I couldn’t wait for the results I had my family with me and Mark & Denise waiting to hear on the other Awards Mister C’s had entered, which is where we won the ‘Field to fryer’. Finally, the time came for the announcement.
“The winner of the Drywite Young Fish Fryer of the Year Award 2018 is…. Peter Calvert, Mister C’s”
My heart was beating out of my chest and then I heard my name, my head went in my hands as I shook myself to make sure I was awake, my Dad was in more shock than I was and I could hear Denise screaming and the whole room applauding while I walked to the stage, everything was blurred as I stood on stage being presented with the trophy it was proudest moment of my life. I was being congratulated left, right and centre and I was expecting to wake up any minute I couldn’t believe it. I knew then that not only had I won one of the most prestigious Awards in the industry but I had been given an opportunity to use my story and experience to encourage more young Fish Friers to enter the competition and see that working in the fish & chip industry is a career and not a dead-end job.