Simpsons Fish & Chips, Cheltenham, Gloucestershire has been crowned the best fish and chip shop in the UK at the ‘Oscars’ of the fish-frying industry.
The shop scooped the ultimate title - Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year – at the 2016 National Fish & Chip Awards after ‘battering’ off stiff competition from nine other UK regional* winners, all vying to take home the top accolade.
The new UK champions were presented with their award at a prestigious ceremony today at the Lancaster London Hotel, London.
To earn the top spot, Simpsons went through a rigorous, multi-stage judging process over a seven month period; encompassing several mystery shopping assessments and in-depth audits by industry experts, reviewing everything from responsible sourcing policies to menu diversification – and off course, the quality of fish and chips on offer and levels of customer service provided by staff.
The final stage of judging put the shop’s presentation skills to the test as they faced a 12-strong specialist industry panel – ‘frying off’ against their fellow finalists in a ‘Dragon’s Den’ style pitch.
Commenting on their award win after receiving the distinguished trophy from awards host Nigel Barden, voice of food and drink on BBC Radio 2, shop co-owners Bonny and James Ritchie said: “After coming in second for this award twice over the last few years, we really are over the moon to have finally won – third time lucky!
“During the last year we’ve really upped our game; streamlining our marketing activities, expanding the shop to double the size of our restaurant facilities, and launching our very own children’s book to increase awareness of fish sourcing and species.
“We’ve really pushed the boundaries of that traditional, stereotypical ‘chippy’ image, developing a strong brand which can compete with some of the familiar big catering businesses. This is just the beginning for us, we’re determined to push fish and chips forward and keep growing our business.”
Chris Middleton, Head of Communications and Marketing at Seafish, and chair of the judging panel, commented: “Simpsons were without a doubt ready to be crowned champions – they represent a young, fresh face to the industry, backed up with tremendous experience and skill.
“They stood out for their robust sourcing policy, passionate work with local communities, innovative approach to branding and marketing, and continual business growth and expansion.
“With boundless energy and vibrant personalities, they are the modern face of fish and chips in the UK – as champions, I have no doubt they will go on to be supreme ambassadors for our industry.”
Mel Groundsell, Corporate Relations Director of Seafish, added: “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.
“Every year Seafish see new and more established talent vie for the top title, and the competition gets fiercer each time. I wish Simpsons all the best as they begin their journey as the UK’s top shop, upholding our country’s reputation as the home of the world’s best fish and chips.”
Now in their 28th year, the 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.
With 14 awards, they showcase a range of categories catering for every aspect of running a successful fish and chip business, recognising everything from traditional takeaways to mobile operators to excellence in training and responsible sourcing.
The Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award is one of the highest industry honours to receive as a fish and chip business and previous winners have gone on to great success, reporting sales increases of up to 100%.
*10 regional finalists, one from each judging region in the UK, made the final stage of judging. 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.