AN AWARD-WINNING Gloucestershire chip shop has today publicly revealed for the first time in its history the extreme measures it employs on a daily basis to deliver the perfect chip to its customers.
Simpsons Fish and Chips, in Cheltenham, uses diabetic technology to sugar test its potatoes, contracts potato nannies to babysit its prized spuds and ensures the potatoes have airbeds to rest on immediately after harvest.
Co-founder James Ritchie admitted Simpsons Fish and Chips is going over and above the realms of normality in its quest for perfection.
He said: “When people tuck into a portion of our chips, they probably have very little idea of the science we have employed and the steps we have taken to ensure our product is among the very best in the UK. The perfect chip in our eyes has a perfect crunch on the outside, a lightly fluffy middle and a rich potato flavour. We take our chips exceedingly seriously which is why we are so rigorous in the methods we use.”
From sourcing the potatoes through to preparation and cooking, the team at Simpsons Fish and Chips invest a vast amount of money and man-hours into chip production.
James, together with his business partner and wife Bonny, sometimes travel to Cambridgeshire to meet the potato growers who supply them. One such supplier is farmer Tony Lee, who has been supplying the Simpson family’s fish and chip shops since 1976.
“We have incredibly high standards when it comes to sourcing our potatoes,” said James. “We have travelled the UK in search of the best potatoes and there is no doubt that the best ones do come from Cambridgeshire. They have the best soil for producing the spuds. Over the years we have developed robust relationships with our farmers and they know the exact standard of potato we are looking for.
“We only work with farmers who have invested in their land and machinery to ensure we receive the best potatoes. For example, our one supplier Tony has a tractor that he uses to harvest the potatoes which has an airbed in the trailer that the harvested potatoes are stored on. We love this and we want our potatoes to be treated as if they were as delicate as eggs. There is one thing for sure, we don’t want potatoes arriving with us all bruised and scarred.”
Simpsons then use a specialist company, Isle of Ely Produce, who act as ‘potatoes nannies’ and guard their spuds through their journey from field to fryer. They transport the potatoes across the country and babysit them until such a time they are required in the chip shop. The potatoes are stored in high-grade air-sealed units and are tested regularly in a laboratory to pinpoint exactly the best time for consumption.
Simpsons Fish and Chips takes delivery of approximately 2.5 tonnes of potatoes every week. Arriving in three batches, each batch is then tested meticulously. Simpsons’ Head Fryer will cut a sample of potatoes in half and, using a diabetic glucose testing stick, will test the sugar levels in each potato. Only potatoes with a glucose reading of less than 0.25% will be used.
James said: “Potatoes with too high a sugar reading will result in sugars caramelising and turning the chip brown and wrinkly. If the sugar content is too high, we say the chip will do a Benidorm. IE It comes out looking like it has spent too much time in the sun in Benidorm - brown, wrinkly and a bit leathery.”
All Simpsons Fish and Chips are then fried in groundnut oil, as recommended by Heston Blumenthal. This pure and odour-free oil can be heated to an incredibly high temperature ensuring that chips are crunchy on the outside then almost steamed within.
Simpsons Fish and Chips, in Priors Road, is a renowned pioneer in the fish and chip shop industry. In 2013, they were named as the Best Fish and Chip Shop in England.
For more information about Simpsons Fish and Chips, visit www.simpsonsfishandchips.com