The National Fish and Chip Awards, sponsored by Seafish and widely considered the ‘Oscars’ of the fish-frying industry, attracted over 600 attendees this year to the Lancaster London Hotel on 20 January. Now in its 28th year, the prestigious ceremony recognises those in the industry who are providing the UK with the best fish and chips, both in terms of food and service, reports Katherine Weir.

Above: James and Bonny Ritchie, with family and staff of Simpsons Fish and Chips – Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year.

Simpsons Fish and Chips in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, scooped the ultimate title of ‘Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year’, beating nine other regional winners for the national trophy. Contestants had to progress through a rigorous, multi-stage judging process over a seven-month period, including a Dragon’s Den-style pitch to the 12-strong industry judging panel.

Owners Bonny and James Ritchie were presented with their award by host Nigel Barton, leading food expert and the voice of food and drink on BBC Radio 2’s popular Simon Mayo show, as their staff and family rushed onto the stage to join the celebrations.

National Fish and Chip Awards

The National Fish and Chip Awards 2016, at the Lancaster London Hotel.

Bonny said: “After coming in second for this award twice over the past few years, we really are over the moon to have finally won – third time lucky!”

She went on to explain how Simpsons had really upped its game over the past year, with exciting marketing activities, expanding the shop and even launching a children’s book, ‘Where Do Fish and Chips Come From?’ to increase awareness of fish-sourcing and species.

“We’ve really pushed the boundaries of that traditional, stereotypical ‘chippy’ image,” said James. “This is just the beginning for us; we’re determined to push fish and chips forward and keep growing our business.”

In second place was Kingfisher Fish and Chips in Plymouth, Devon and The Cod’s Scallops, from Nottingham, came third.

National Fish and Chip Awards

Ryan Hughes, from The Crispy Cod, wins the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year Award.

There were also 13 other award categories, catering for every aspect of running a successful fish and chip business, recognising everything from traditional takeaways and mobile operators, to excellence in training and responsible sourcing.

Youngsters in the fish-frying industry were celebrated in the Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year Competition, with Ryan Hughes of The Crispy Cod, Porth, Mid Glamorgan taking home the award. On the other end of scale, it was John Boutwood, Managing Director of Isle of Ely Produce who won the award for Outstanding Achievement, for his service to the industry over the years.

Mel Groundsell, Corporate Relations Director of Seafish, said: “The aim of the National Fish and 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.

“Every year Seafish sees new and more-established talent vie for the top title, and the competition gets fiercer and more competitive each time. I wish Simpsons all the best as they begin their journey as the UK’s top shop, but also thank them for upholding our high industry standards, helping us to reinforce the UK’s reputation as the home of the world’s best fish and chips.”

Regional winning shops

  • Scotland: Cromar’s, St Andrews, Fife
  • Wales: Hikary’s, Neath, Port Talbot
  • Northern Ireland: The Dolphin Takeaway, Dungannon, Co Tyrone
  • North East England: Mister C’s, Selby, North Yorkshire
  • North West England: Hodgson’s Chippy, Lancaster, Lancashire
  • Midland: Simpsons Fish and Chips, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire
  • Eastern England: The Cod’s Scallops, Nottingham, Nottinghamshire
  • London and South East England: Papa’s Barn, Ditton, Kent
  • Central and Southern England: Cox’s of Letchworth, Letchworth, Herts
  • South and West England: Kingfisher Fish & Chips, Plymouth, Devon

Award categories

  • Best Newcomer Award: Catch, East Looe, Cornwall
  • ‘Good Catch’ – The Sustainable Seafood Award: Kingfisher Fish & Chips, Plymouth, Devon
  • Healthy Eating ‘Fish and Chips’ Award: Harbourside Fish & Chips, Plymouth, Devon
  • From Field to Frier Award: The Fish Bar at Sunnybank Road, Crewe, Cheshire
  • Marketing Innovation Award: Burton Road Chippy, Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Independent Fish and Chip Restaurant of the Year Award: The Scallop Shell, Bath, Somerset
  • Staff Training and Development Award: The Frying Squad, Co Down, NI
  • Best Mobile Fish and Chip Operator Award: Starchip Enterprise, Evesham, Warwickshire
  • Best Foodservice Operator Award: Lussmanns Fish & Grill Restaurants, Hertfordshire
  • Best Multiple Fish and Chip Operator Award: FishnChickn, Berks/Bucks/Cambs/Essex/Hants/Herts
  • NFFF Fish and Chip Quality Award ‘Champion’ Award: Burton Road Chippy, Lincoln, Lincolnshire
  • Drywite Young Fish Frier of the Year Competition: Ryan Hughes, The Crispy Cod, Porth, Mid Glamorgan
  • The Award for Outstanding Achievement: John Boutwood, Managing Director, Isle of Ely Produce

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