Mystery judges' tour secrets revealed –

Mystery judges’ tour secrets revealed Published:  10 January, 2012

Fish & Chip Awards Judges l-r David Linton; Fred Capel

udging for the Independent Fish & Chip Takeaway of the Year, the headline category of next week’s National Fish & Chip Awards, has now come to an end after industry experts completed their mystery judging tour.

Their top secret findings will be presented to the judging panel at the Grand Final in London when the overall winner is announced on January 17 2012.

Ten UK regional finalists are currently in the running for the top award, including:

Scotland: The Bay, Stonehaven

Wales: Crispy Cod, Mid Glamorgan

Northern Ireland: Pit Stop, Kilkeel

North East: Quayside, Whitby, North Yorkshire

North West: Seniors, Thornton, Lancashire

Midlands: The Big Fish, Stratford Upon Avon

Eastern: Linfords, Market Deeping

London & South East: Seafare, Worplesdon Rd, Guildford

Central & South: Wigmore Fish & Chips, Luton

South West: Hanbury’s, Babbacombe

Organised by Seafish, the authority on seafood, the Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award recognises the wealth of quality, value and choice offered by the nation’s much loved independent fish & chip shops. The title has in the past resulted in a sales increase of up to 100 per cent for the winning shop.

These shops earned their regional titles after successfully progressing through rounds of interviews and even an unannounced visit from industry judges and assessed on a wide variety of criteria from product quality and customer service, to food preparation procedures and approaches to sustainable sourcing.

However, to separate the very best from the rest industry experts David Linton from Triple F Chips in Lancashire and Fred Capel from past winners Chez Fred in Bournemouth, embarked on a month long judging tour posing as everyday customers to see if the shops walked the walk as well as they talked the talk.

Noting everything from the shops’ signage and cleanliness, to the staff’s friendliness and food’s taste, the fish and chip connoisseurs were surprised with the results they found.

David Linton said: “In this category we’re highlighting the very best fish and chip takeaway that the UK has to offer so it’s important that we know the shops inside out to make that judgement confidently.

“My experience on tour with Fred highlighted the importance of customer service more than ever before. Each of the 10 finalists got to where they are by using the best ingredients and training their staff, but what separates them in my eyes is the level of customer service on offer.

“We’re looking forward to sharing our judgements with the wider panel and to naming the UK’s best fish and chip takeaway at the grand final on January 17.”

With over 250 million fish and chip meals sold each year from over 10,500 shops across the UK, fish and chips remains the nation’s favourite takeaway.  Devotees can tuck into their fish and chips knowing that they contain 36 per cent less calories than a chicken korma and pilau rice, and 42 per cent less fat than a doner kebab with pita and salad.  Recent studies also showed that fish and chips had the lowest salt content of all the takeaways tested.