Cod or haddock? Salt? Vinegar? However you like it, fish and chips fans everywhere take note: one British chippie is soon to be crowned the king of the nation’s proudest culinary combo.
Spanning entrants nationwide, 60 of the UK’s top fish and chip shops are ‘battering’ it out to claim the title of Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, part of the 2015 National Fish & Chips Awards organised by Seafish.
On the golden question of quality, judges are looking for fish that is “firm and flaky, succulent, free of bones, not too oily and white in colour”, whilst chips are to be “crispy on the outside, fluffy on the inside and cooked right through”. The best batter is “crispy, even-coloured, covering the whole fish, not too greasy and free of any carbon particles”.
Mystery diners for the preliminary rounds also rated many other aspects of the chippies, ranging from the quality of the customer service to courtesy over the phone. Judges rewarded shops that were welcoming, clean and promoted sustainable fish, and they were also asked if they’d recommend the takeaway to someone else.
The top 60 will be whittled down to 20 in September, when head-to-heads will determine the champions of each region. The regional winners will then compete for the top prize, announced at a ceremony in January 2015.
To see if your local chippie made the cut, check out the shortlist of the nominees at www.fishandchipawards.com.
Nikki Hawkins, Events Manager at Seafish and a former judge of the competition, says that the secret to great fish and chips is simple: “Pride in the product and chefs who know what they’re doing. Getting it right requires care and obviously you need good quality fish.”
Paul Williams, Chief Executive of Seafish, said: “These awards have not only improved the industry standards by consistently rewarding and testing businesses, they have also raised positive awareness of the issues surrounding sustainable fishing practices and encouraged shops to implement sustainable sourcing.
“Last year we witnessed some of the highest calibre of entrants ever. The bar is constantly rising and we can’t wait to see the top fryers battle it out this year.”
Quayside, last year’s champions, is owned by Stuart Fusco, and he described winning the award as “a dream come true”.
“Our family business has worked hard towards achieving this award for many years and after winning sales increased significantly,” he said.
“The judging process is very rigorous and challenging but ultimately it comes down to your enthusiasm and love for the industry. Fish and chips are our family’s passion, and it’s an honour to be recognised for all our hard work.”
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