Joining competition from around the UK in a bid to be crowned Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, Fochabers Fish Bar will now vie with nine other regional winners, as they compete to become the ‘best fish and chip shop’ in the UK.
The awards, which judge competitors from regions up and down the country, has announced their 10 finalists, with the nine other challengers coming from Wales, Northern Ireland and seven areas in England.
Having being crowned the top shop in each of their respective regions, the 10 hopefuls will now put their presentation skills to the test in one last judging round.
Facing a specialist judging panel - consisting of representatives from leading trade bodies, the fish and potato supply sectors and past awards champions - they’ll be quizzed on a diverse range of industry related topics and be required to demonstrate how they successfully run a profitable business and plan for future development.
Darren Boothroyd, owner of Fochabers Fish Bar, commented: “We’re completely over the moon to have made it to the top 10, it’s a real testament to all the hard work we’ve put into the business; all the staff are ecstatic!
“I grew up in a fish and chip shop but only decided to follow a career in the industry three years ago when I became the owner of Fochabers Fish Bar.
"I spent 12 months learning how to fry and my main aim was to produce fantastic fish and chips, as well as turning my staff into a highly trained and motivated team.
"To achieve this award in such a short time means more to me than I can say, to think where I was three years ago to where I am now is incredible. My staff are on cloud nine, much like myself!”
To get to this stage and secure a top spot, Fochabers Fish Bar has had to work at the top of their game, facing appraisal by industry experts across a variety of criteria including menu development and innovation, sustainable sourcing policies, staff training processes, and marketing and promotional activities.
They also received mystery shopping assessments to ascertain customer service levels and the quality of fish and chips, along with in-depth judging audits to appraise a wide range of criteria including ingredient storage and preparation processes, cleanliness and integrity of shop equipment and observation of cooking practices.
Held in London on 25 January 2016, this final judging stage will determine the overall national winner that will be announced at an awards ceremony on 26 January 2016.
Handing over the crown will be current champions, Simpsons Fish & Chips in Cheltenham, Gloucestershire, winners of the 2016 Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award. James and Bonny Ritchie of Simpsons Fish & Chips commented: “Winning the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards was a life changing experience and a moment we’ll treasure forever.
“From the minute we were crowned winners we saw a dramatic increase in business across both our takeaway and restaurant.
"The award has given us real recognition and respect, and opened doors we wouldn’t have dreamed were possible – we’re even travelling all the way to Japan next month to showcase our fish and chips!”
Marcus Coleman, Chief Executive at Seafish, added: “The Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award is one of the highest honours a fish and chip business can receive. The judging process is extremely challenging with shops thoroughly being put through their paces – these 10 finalists are a credit to the industry and I commend them for reaching this stage of the competition.”.
The National Fish & Chip Awards are recognised as one of the most prominent and respected seafood industry events in the UK. They celebrate the Great British tradition of fish and chips, showcasing the best talent, quality and choice offered by fish and chip businesses through 13 different award categories.
The 10 regional finalists are:
• For further information on The National Fish & Chip Awards or to view the full top 60 and 20 shortlist visit www.fishandchipawards.com.