The shops, one from each judging region in the UK*, will now ‘batter’ it out as they vie for the ultimate title - Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year – and aim to claim the title of the ‘best fish and chip shop’ in the UK.
Covering the length and breadth of the country, the 10 finalists are: Cromars in St Andrews, Fife (Scotland); Hikary’s Fish Bar in Neath, Port Talbot (Wales); The Dolphin Takeaway in Dungannon, County Tyrone (Northern Ireland); Mister C’s in Selby, North Yorkshire (North East England); Hodgson’s Chippy in Lancaster, Lancashire (North West England); Simpsons Fish & Chips in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire (Midlands); The Cod’s Scallops in Nottingham, Nottinghamshire (Eastern England); Papa’s Barn in Ditton, Kent (London & South East England); Cox’s of Letchworth in Letchworth, Hertfordshire (Central & Southern England) and Kingfisher Fish & Chips in Plympton, Plymouth (South & West England).
To get to this stage and secure a place in the coveted shortlist, shops have been appraised across an extensive variety of judging criteria including responsible sourcing policies, shop appearance and facilities, staff training and development policies, marketing and promotional activity and local community involvement. They also received several mystery shopping assessments and in-depth audits by industry experts, to ascertain the quality of the fish and chips and the levels of customer service provided by staff.
Having being crowned the top shop in each of their respective regions, the hopefuls will now put their presentation skills to the test as they are put through their paces in one last judging round. Facing a specialist industry judging panel, consisting of representatives from leading trade bodies and past awards champions, they’ll be quizzed on a diverse range of industry related topics and have to showcase how they successfully run a profitable business.
Held in London on 19 January 2016, this final judging round will determine the overall national winner that will be announced at an awards ceremony taking place at The Lancaster London Hotel on 20 January 2016.
Handing over the crown will be current champions, Frankie’s Fish & Chips in Brae, Shetland, winners of the 2015 Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award. Carolyn Kearney of Frankie’s Fish & Chips commented: “Being crowned champion was a huge honour for everyone here at Frankie’s. It was a goal for us since the moment we opened our doors in 2008 and since winning we’ve experienced so many benefits – including having customers travel over 700 miles just to get a taste of our fish and chips!
“The judging process is very rigorous and challenging, but it’s worth every second of the hard work and effort involved. It’s a roller coaster experience and we would urge anyone with a passion for producing high quality, great tasting fish and chips to join the ride.”
Paul Williams, Chief Executive of Seafish, said: “The aim of the National Fish & Chip Awards has always been to showcase the very best fish and chip businesses and individuals in the UK while setting incredibly high standards for the industry.
“The Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award is one of the highest honours to receive as a fish and chip business. Many of our past winners and finalists have gone on to reap substantial benefits, including international fame through industry trips overseas, increased shop footfall and turnover and even launching their own products.
“We’ve had so many excellent shops come through for each stage of the competition this year and the final 10 really do excel in upholding the high standards we set. I’d like to offer up my congratulations and wish them the best as they prepare to continue their quest towards becoming the new champion, but also thank them for consistently helping us to reinforce the UK’s reputation as the home of the world’s best fish and chips.”
Culminating in an awards ceremony at The Lancaster London Hotel on 20 January 2016, The National Fish & Chip Awards are recognised as one of the most prominent and respected seafood industry events in the UK. Widely considered as the ‘Oscars’ of the fish frying industry, they celebrate the great British tradition of fish and chips, recognising the best talent, quality and choice offered by fish and chip businesses.
As the top 10 finalists, Seafish will now invite the shops on an all-expense paid study trip later in October to Ålesund, Norway, organised by award sponsor the Norwegian Seafood Council, to witness first-hand why the country is regarded as one of the world’s most sustainable fishing nations.
*Regions include: Scotland, Wales, Northern Ireland, North East England, North West England, Midlands, Eastern England, London & South East England, Central & Southern England and South West England.