Leicester chip shop boss earns his salt with dry vinegar idea
Vinegar might have had its chips when it comes to Britain's favourite dish – thanks to a new salt developed in Leicester.
Lefteris Eleftheriou, owner of award-winning chip shop Grimsby Fisheries, in Welford Road, has been working with some of the country's top food scientists to find an answer to the age-old problem of soggy chips.
They have come up with a dry sprinkle that looks like salt – but tastes of both salt and vinegar. And, crucially, it does not make food wet.
It has been developed by experts in the food technology labs of Kerry Ingredients and Flavours, under the guidance of the 53-year-old chip shop owner and his customers.
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The idea came to Lefteris during a car journey three years ago to visit Kerry's flour mill in Lincolnshire, where the batter for his fish is made.
"I was in the car with my friend Alan Pearce, who is a salesman with Kerry, when it just struck me," he said.
"Kerry provide us with our bread crumbs, curry sauce and gravy, among other things, and I said to Alan wouldn't it be great if you could have a salt which also has the taste of vinegar. It would mean chips would be crispier and wouldn't go soggy.
"I asked him if it was possible, and he said he'd look into it."
Experts got to work and produced a sample.
Using feedback from Lefteris and customers at Grimsby Fisheries, they then developed three more, each giving a stronger or weaker vinegar flavour.
Lefteris said: "We were looking for the right blend and I think with this fourth sample we've found it.
"It can be sprinkled like salt, but is not too strong a taste.
"It also has a third less sodium than normal salt, so it is a healthy option too. It also has no allergens, so anyone can enjoy it."
Alan said: "It's a revolutionary concept which has become a reality. We did a few trials but were confident enough to try it out on the fish and chip eating public.
"Thanks to Lefteris and his customers, we feel we are really on to something, and this dry salt and vinegar sprinkle could soon become an industry-wide product."
Customers at the store yesterday said they liked the sprinkle, which is now available to all customers.
Seraphino Fernandez, 42, from Green Lane Road, Leicester, said: "Why didn't anybody think of this before? I think it's great. I can't tell the difference."
Ian MacFarlane, 77, a former Leicester City player, from Stoneygate, said: "I like to think of myself as a fish and chip connoisseur, and I think it's a very interesting idea and gives people a choice."
Kerry Foods, which includes Kerry Ingredients and Flavours, supplies ingredients for foods around the world.
It will be developing the packaging for the product in the next four weeks and consider how they are going to market it.
Lefteris, who will not make any money from his idea, added: "I hope I get a discount, but I would like to think of it as my gift to the trade and the great British fish and chip eating public."