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Why family is important in the Yorkshire food industry

PUBLISHED: 00:00 30 May 2018 | UPDATED: 09:47 31 May 2018

Stuart Fusco one of the Fusco family now celebrating 50 years of supplying fish and chips in Whitby

Stuart Fusco one of the Fusco family now celebrating 50 years of supplying fish and chips in Whitby

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Could success in the hospitality industry be as simple as staying close to home?

Philip Dodd with his mother and founder of Herbs Unlimited Alison Dodd Philip Dodd with his mother and founder of Herbs Unlimited Alison Dodd

It’s worth remembering in these uncertain times the businesses that celebrate their longevity. There‘s room here for just a few to mention but they ought to be an inspiration to those brave new independents who are struggling to make their mark in the food, drink and hospitality industries.

More often than not it’s a family business that manages to chalk up the years and perhaps family is the glue that holds a company together in difficult times. And we will be thinking of them as we celebrate the Yorkshire Life Food & Drink Awards 2018 launched last month. Our panel of independent judges Claire Gallagher, head of Bettys Food & Drink Innovation; Claire Sawkins, founder of the Cookery School Awards; Mitch Mitchell, TRUEfoods’ innovative food producer and wine expert Gary Smulders from Hallgarten Druitt are already out and about looking for exceptional award-winning talent. All the finalists will be invited to the awards ceremony on September 17th at Rudding Park, Harrogate where the winners will be revealed.

Meanwhile we tip our hats to:

John Dammone co-owner of Salvo's, Headingley, Leeds John Dammone co-owner of Salvo's, Headingley, Leeds

Salvo’s, Headlingley, Leeds

Salvo’s, in the city’s main student district, Headingley, is recognised as an institution. Now in its 42nd year, the Italian restaurant has more than stood the test of time since it was opened in 1976 by Salvatore Dammone. His sons, John and Gip, have since taken over and overseen the restaurant’s £250,000 redevelopment.

The restaurant has been a mainstay of the Good Food Guide since its first mention in 1984. Co-owner John says his collection of Good Food Guides acts as a constant reminder of not only the success of Salvo’s over its four decades but the constant need for development and renewal in a business where the customer is always looking for something new and different.

‘It’s clear that today’s diner is ever more knowledgeable and discerning,’ said John. ‘They demand more than meals produced from a central production kitchen producing food that allows consistency yet do not offer the opportunity for a chef’s creativity to shine through.

‘Leeds’ independent restaurants are ideally placed to provide that spark and innovation that today’s discerning diner requires. Yorkshire folk are canny too and are less likely to be bamboozled by shiny restaurants that provide glitz but little creative flair.’

Fusco’s 50 years, Whitby

This year the Fusco family marks 50 years of serving fish and chips in Whitby. Fish and chips are, for many in Yorkshire at least, the finest fast food of all – especially if it is served by the multi-award winning Fusco family. ‘It takes just five minutes to cook fish and chips – all the work and time is spent in the preparation,’ Stuart Fusco director and head chef at the Quayside restaurant and takeaway said in an earlier interview.

It is still a family business founded by his grandmother five decades ago and is this year’s number one independent fish and chip takeaway in the UK. He, together with his mother Carol Fusco, took time away from the fryer to talk about the importance of being able to trace all the ingredients they use back to their origins, even down to the beef dripping.

‘Fish and chips are a treat, they are not meant to be eaten every day,’ says Stuart. ‘And when they are eaten as a treat they are among the most wholesome fast foods you can have. So what is the future for fish and chips? The traditional takeaway meal is not disappearing any time soon. ‘For many it’s all about nostalgia,’ says Stuart. ‘People love them because they remind them of their childhood, the fun they had at the seaside, the smell of the sea and the call of the seagulls. And Whitby is the fish and chip capital of the world.’

Herbs Unlimited, Thirsk

Speciality grower Herbs Unlimited has celebrated 25 years of successfully producing herbs, salads and edible flowers last year. The company grows traditional and speciality herbs alongside salads and edible flowers on its 92-acre farm at Sand Hutton, near Thirsk, supplying the catering, hospitality, food processing and retail sectors.

It was founded by chef Alison Dodd in 1992. Herbs Unlimited employs 49 permanent staff and has a £4million turnover. ‘I started the company back in 1992 because the fresh herbs I wanted for my dishes were hard to come by at that time. A business like ours can never stand still and we’re constantly innovating and investing in both equipment and staff to maximise market opportunities.

‘While Brexit has brought uncertainty to the market, it has also brought a renewed interest in sourcing from the UK and supporting British and Yorkshire farming and we are well placed to make the most of that.’

Earlier this year Alison handed over the running of the business to her son Philip, formerly operations director, who is now managing director. He said at the time: ‘Mum has left some big footsteps to fill but I am delighted to have this opportunity to make my own mark on the company after working alongside her for so long.’ Alison will continue in a part-time business development role. u

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