MasterChef: The Professionals finalist realises his dream of opening a high-end chippy in the town centre, called Haarbour.
Fife chef Dean Banks will open his new modern fish and chip shop and restaurant in St Andrews to the public from noon today.
An idea he dreamed up years ago, the chef and entrepreneur has generated 20 new jobs as a result of the new eatery, Haarbour.
Located on Alexandra Place, the concept sees a traditional chippy meet Dean’s modern take on cooking and explores fish and chip offerings from across the world.
Diversifying continuously throughout the coronavirus pandemic, Haarbour is the second business Dean has started up since lockdown in March, launching delivery food box firm Haar at Home a few months back.
Taking five months to renovate and bring the idea to life, Dean and his team have been working on the project since May.
Haarbour is born
He said: “It has been a dream of mine for around four years, maybe a bit more. I was thinking about it before I did MasterChef: The Professionals and I remember when I first walked in to do the skills test, Marcus Wareing had asked about my background and what I had achieved. I spoke about Haarbour, and how I wanted to have this fish and chip shop that was more than just that and fused different styles.
“It evolved since Haar more and more and this image I had in my head is now real. Myself and my operations manager have just been walking around with tradesmen telling them what we want and it is so great to see it all come together the way it has.”
Innovative ordering system
Putting a spin on the way a traditional fish and chip shop is run, Dean has invested in new equipment which he says will improve the ordering process and wait times for food.
“We’ve got the front entrance of the shop which is our takeaway area and it’s your classic chippy front. We have a new system in place which will sort this old way of queueing for half an hour after placing your order,” said Dean.
“Our system will allow you to get your order in really quickly and means there’s a shorter waiting time. I’m using a style which is popular in the ski resorts in the Alps. You place your order, are given you buzzer and can go off to the pub or wait in your car, and then you can just come back when the buzzer goes off. We set it up to help with social distancing, but we’ll keep it in place as it is a really good system.”
Open seven days a week, Dean has added 20 new members of staff to his books and plans to operate from noon to 10pm daily. However, the indoor area will close from 6pm until current Scottish Government restrictions on hospitality are lifted.
He said: “We have added 20 new staff to the business. The restaurant will be serving from noon until 10pm, but for now with the restrictions we’ll be running it until 6pm. It is an all day service, no booking, just walk-in only and somewhere you can grab a quick bite to eat.
“It is a two-metre zone in the restaurant so we can seat around 28 covers. We could normally seat 45-50 covers and we have an area outside that seats another 16. In full swing it is a 70-cover restaurant. We’ll play with the opening hours of outside to see if people want to brave the cold or not.”
An ambassador of using high quality, local produce in his restaurant Haar, Dean will transfer the same ethos to Haarbour, utilising the best products and produce local businesses have to offer.
From developing his own sausage for their sausage supper, to making his own batter, not to mention sourcing most ingredients from St Andrews itself, Dean is looking forward to welcoming guests for the first time today.
He said: “We’re taking away that traditional feel of fish and chips and modernising it really. It will feature my fusion style of food, taking lots of inspiration from my travels across the world. What I noticed when I was traveling is that there’s so many countries that have their own variations of fish and chips, so I’m going to put those dishes on the menu. I’ve got a Korean style haddock which is made using sesame tempura with gochujang, and proper fish and chips with my own curry sauce which everyone seems to love at Haar.
“We’ll also have some meat products too because in a chippy I love a sausage supper, however, I’ve not had one yet where it’s not that processed rubbish used to make it. We’ve gone straight to our butcher Henderson’s and they have created a fresh butcher’s sausage with pancetta. We’re lucky enough to have the number one haggis based here and made by Minick of St Andrews – they were voted number one in Scotland and the world so whoever wins the gold medal of the year will have their haggis on our menu.
“We have a dirty burger on the menu in the restaurant and the beef itself is from Balgrove Larder. Our pancetta is from Henderson’s who makes it on-site from an old German recipe so we’ve developed everything for a reason. All of our shellfish will still come locally and our fish will be from the North Sea.
“Our batter has taken us around a month to develop and it will be a sourdough version which gives a really good crunch, and, we’ve even sourced a whole heap of local soft drinks – and we’ve of course got Irn-Bru, too.
“We’re basing ourselves around the fish and chips in the restaurant, but we have little snacks like crab and lobster brioches, Scottish oysters and things like that. We’ll also be using seasonal fish that comes in and our daily board will change to accommodate what comes off the boats. ”
Signing a new lease for his Haar at Home operation and managing to survive throughout the pandemic, Dean is grateful for the outstanding support he and his team have received from loyal customers.
He added: “Haar at Home has continued to grow since its launch. We’ve signed a new lease for a unit in Perth and it has continued to just go crazy which is just amazing.
“Haar in general has such a good customer base and they really appreciate what we do. We’ve been busy enough to keep the doors open and employ more staff. Since we opened after lockdown we employed eight more staff at Haar. We have been very, very lucky. We’ve got a small seating area outside the restaurant too and people have really been utilising it so we are feeling very lucky and can’t thank everyone enough for all of their support in keeping the business open and going.”