When Magdalena Placzek first came to Scotland from her native Poland a decade ago, she originally planned to stay for just a year.
A former secretary from a town two hours from Poland’s second largest city, Krakow, she took a job in a fish and chip shop in Peebles’ Northgate after arriving in the Borders.
Now, 10 years later and, as boss of the same chippy – Jim Jack’s – she has seen her business named best chip shop in the Borders for 2015 by readers of The Southern Reporter.
Like our Johnston Press sister papers across the rest of the country, we asked you, the readers, to vote for your favourite chippy.
We got a massive response and from the eventual short-list of 10, Magdalena and her nine-strong team at Jim Jack’s emerged as the outstanding winners after the final vote.
And the key to Jim Jack’s success is simple, according to Magdalena, a mother of two whose partner, Michael, also works at Jim Jack’s.
“It’s easy – get good staff who just love what they do. That comes through in everything, from your products to your customer service, and people like that,” Magdalena told us.
“When I first arrived in Scotland from Poland I wanted to find a job pretty quickly and working as a fryer in this chip shop was what I found.
“And I’ve been here ever since – I love my job and I love living in Peebles and Scotland.”
Magdalena took over the reins of Jim Jack’s two years ago and now employs nine staff. And while she offers the full traditional chip shop range of food, haddock and chips remains the clear favourite with Jim Jack’s customers.
“Haddock is definitely the most popular. We always cook it fresh. People have to wait a little bit, but they appreciate it is worthwhile.
“If you don’t cook from fresh to order, the batter goes soggy and the fish dries out, which isn’t that nice.”
Strangely, for someone who has embraced chip shop culture, Magdalena says it is not something you find in her native Poland.
She said: “People in Poland prefer a lot of meat and chicken meals, but the Polish people who come to Jim Jack’s and try what we offer, like haddock and chips, really love it and lots of them keep coming back, which is great to see.”
Asked if she ever thinks of returning to Poland, Magdalena told us: “I really love it here in Peebles. I love the Scottish people and I love my job.
“I was a secretary at a school back in Poland and I can’t ever imagine going back to a job with so much paperwork again.
“I’d spend 24 hours a day in this chippy if I could. I absolutely love it!”