A long line of humans and a few corgis recently waited in the Living Hope Church parking lot on a cold, blustery day for British fish and chips created by the former Buckingham Palace chef Darren McGrady.
The passion of Winston’s British Fish N Chips co-owner and visionary, Timothy Johnson, reeled McGrady into an unlikely food business for a chef who formerly catered banquets for heads of state.
Johnson, the recently retired CEO of Unions America in Battle Ground, fondly remembers a British fish-and-chip shop called Enry Beazley’s that he visited as a child. He convinced two of his friends with experience in the hospitality industry to join this dream endeavor, but Johnson needed a chef to develop British recipes.
Johnson emailed McGrady after discovering the chef’s YouTube channel, where a video about fish and chips drew 2 million views.
McGrady served as a chef for the royal family for 15 years, leaving Buckingham Palace in 1993 to become Princess Diana’s private chef at Kensington Palace. After her untimely death, McGrady got an offer to work for a family in Dallas, Texas. He moved there in 1998 and has since built up a global catering and consulting business.
Winston’s British Fish N Chips
Where: 2711 N.E. Andresen Road, Vancouver
Hours: 11 a.m. to 7 p.m. Sunday through Friday
Despite his glamorous resume, the chance to share a childhood favorite drew McGrady to Winston’s. McGrady lovingly remembers going on Fridays to the fish-and-chip shop with his grandfather. He initially signed on to Winston’s as a consultant to develop recipes and advise the team. As the project evolved, he decided to become a full partner with more control over the day-to-day operations. He won’t be on site regularly, but he will create all the recipes, train cooking staff, respond to any of the team’s food-related questions that arise, and make special appearances.
This fish-and-chips company is building more food trucks and plans on having 10 locations this year. McGrady will be at the grand opening of a Dallas location scheduled to open in celebration of the coronation of King Charles III on May 6.
At the Vancouver soft launch on March 3, a short menu featured battered cod, chips, wings and smoked chowder. Wild cod for the fish and chips and smoked chowder comes from Alaskan Leader Seafood, which filets and flash freezes its catch aboard its fishing fleet.
In the United Kingdom, chip shops source Maris Piper, Cabaret, Victoria and Markie potatoes for their chips. Stateside, McGrady likes Yukon Gold potatoes for his chips because of their meaty interior and ability to crisp up. He created a special recipe and designed a ventilated carryout box to keep chips crisp for 40 minutes.
After meeting McGrady at the soft launch on March 3, I drove home with my Kings Feast Sampler ($17). It includes a piece of battered cod, two wings in a sticky sweet-and-spicy sauce, chips, mushy peas, smoked fish chowder and curry sauce. When I opened the box about 20 minutes later, the large piece of hand-battered cod and chips remained warm and crisp. Both were even better dipped in the rich curry sauce.