Mark Wixted, pictured on a recent visit home, has set up an Irish-style chippy in Australia Picture: Michael Cowhey
A LIMERICK man has set up a fish and chip shop inspired by Donkey Ford’s – over 14,000km away down under!
Mark Wixted, 36, originally of Southville Gurteen just off the Ballinacurra Road, has swapped Limerick for Darwin, in Australa’s Northern Territory.
There, he has established ‘the Chippy’, an Irish-style chip shop, in Dinah Beach, serving traditional local staples such as Taco fries, fish, chips, mushy peas – and Club orange to wash them down with.
“There is a massive Irish community out here. So many times, me and my friends have all sat in a restaurant or a pub and wondered what if we had a chippy. We needed a chippy here. It was one thing everyone said. There is an Irish association, Irish dancing, an Irish pub – but no chippy. People wanted a taste of home,” he said.
Mark, who runs the facility with his twin brother Andy has created six jobs – four workers are Irish, the other two Australian.
Of these, two are from Co Limerick, he added, while he is about to take on a former colleague from Shannon Town.
Mark, who used to work as head chef in Freddy’s Bistro, and the Absolute Hotel, said ‘fish and chip cuisine’ is different down under.
“In Australia, they use a beer batter and frozen chips. There is no hand-cut chips, there’s no curry sauces. there’s no garlic chips. We do all of these. Also, there is no cod here, just salmon. We have had to educate them in the fish as well as the chips,” he said.
He revealed that in their first few weeks, 1.2 tonnes of potatoes were used, exhausting the supply in the Darwin area.
On the rare occasions Mark is able to return to Ireland, he admits one of his first ports of call is Donkey Ford’s in John’s Street.
“Every Sunday when I was young, if we went away to Curraghchase or somewhere for the day, we would stop in Donkey Ford’s. That was out treat, our Sunday dinner,” he said.
Unsurprisingly, it is Irish fish and chips he misses most about home. Many people have compared his business to the famous Limerick chipper on Facebook, Mark adds.
”We have Irish pubs – now we have Irish chippers,” he concludes.