The National Fish and Chip Awards honours industry leaders at The Lancaster Hotel
In the glitzy hall of the Lancaster Hotel, if there is a word to be said for the country’s fish and chippers, or fryers as they are known, it is community. The evening was presided over by BBC2 food and drink connoisseur Nigel Barden – an enthusiastic returning host who was clearly familiar with all present. There was a genuine sense of excitement for each winner and the feeling that they all knew and supported one another. Many past winners were present even if they were not this year nominated.
John Boutwood was recognised for his outstanding contribution to the industry after 40 years and suffering a horrific car crash that left him wheelchair bound. Not letting that hinder him, he proceeded to grow his business and now distributes chips to a vast number of chippies as well as owning Chippy Chat – the leading magazine reporting on the trade.
The largest prize was for the Independent Fish and Chip Shop of the Year, where each regional winner got a chance to step on stage and shine. The winners were visited by a panel of judges, and not only were the products evaluated, but also the venue, hygiene and their marketing. After all this, the overall winner was Simpson’s Fish and Chips from Cheltenham, Gloucestershire.
For an industry so steeped in tradition, they also have a keen eye on the future. With awards for Good Catch Sustainability (won by Kingfisher Fish and Chips, Plymouth), Best Newcomer (Catch, Cornwall), Healthy Eating (Harbourside Fish and Chips, Plymouth), Marketing Innovation (Burton Road, Lincolnshire) and Young Fish Fryer of the Year (Ryan Hughes from The Crispy Cod, Porth) they clearly intend to ensure that their heritage is not only upheld, but always adapting and evolving. This was reflected in the attendees, with many older faces in the audience and an equal number of fresh young faces for whom these awards held equal value. It was a vital part of welcoming them into a community that they would soon be driving and that support one another even in the worst of times.
Next time you pick up a casual takeaway after a night out or venture to the seaside for a chippy on the beach, just remember how much work, innovation and resilience has gone into maintaining a tradition that has become inherently associated with British culture.
Support your local!
Photos: Sophie Bluestone
For further information about the National Fish and Chip Awards 2016 and full details of the winners and runners up visit here