When Malia Klinge moved from Germany to New Zealand in 2012, she never imagined she would be running a fish and chip shop in Nelson.
But exactly six years later, she has managed to uphold the award-winning standards of Victory Square Fish and Chips, and always with a smile on her face.
The St Vincent St eatery placed fifth in last month’s nationwide ‘best chip’ competition, among 500 entries. It was also the top-placed Nelson shop.
It’s not the first time the shop has claimed honours, in both 2011 and 2013 the shop took out first place in the regional competition.
Straight, crinkle-cut or chunky varieties leave their customers spoilt for choice, and Malia says the secret to a good chip is all in the spud.
“They company we get potatoes from is consistently good. Also, paying attention to detail and having well-trained staff helps.”
Malia says the business has been a family affair. All four of her children have worked in the shop, and up until three years ago her German husband Ekkehardt worked alongside her.
Auckland-raised Malia lived in Germany for 23 years, where she and Ekkehardt ran a farm.
“I left home in 1986 on my OE and I never went back,” she laughs.
But when Ekkehardt developed back problems and could no longer drive a tractor, they decided to move to New Zealand.
“Basically, it was our last chance for an adventure,” she says.
They settled on Nelson due it being “similar” to where they lived in Germany and kept their eyes peeled for a business opportunity with a lifestyle.
“We didn’t even think of a place like this until it came up. I said, ‘oh, do you think we could do that?’
“Being away from New Zealand for so long, I didn’t realise how iconic fish and chips still were.”
Even though people come from all over town for their fried goods, Malia says the best thing about being in Victory is the people.
“The customers are a highlight – the familiar faces make working here a delight. They come into the shop and you welcome them like old friends, because that’s what they really are.”
And their most popular menu item among the burgers, hotdogs and squid rings?
“Just fish and chips,” she says. “They are our mainstay.”