As the National Fish & Chip Awards 2016 draw nearer, Frankie’s Carlyn Kearney looks back to where she was this time 12 months ago
This time last year I had just returned from a visit to Norway along with the other nine regional winners shortlisted for the Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award, where we saw first hand how the Norwegians catch and freeze fish for delivery to the UK.
Once back, while most people in the country were thinking about their Christmas shopping and looking forward to a break over the festive season, we and our friends and colleagues at the other shops around the country were running through long checklists.
In our case, it was: staff rota for awards week — check; new video about Frankie’s – check; presentation text and slides — check; booklets on the Frankie’s story — check; 101 other small details — check.
We had been working really hard all year at Frankie’s to raise our game after having gained second place in the top award in 2014.
From increasing the proportion of sustainably caught and harvested seafood we sell in the shop to 98%, to educating young children about fish with our Frankie’s Fish Course and constantly promoting ourselves and the trade, we strained every sinew to try to take the big leap to the top spot.
Having done all that, we knew we had to focus relentlessly on presenting the Frankie’s story as best we could.
As with 2014, we had decided to produce a video because it is difficult to provide a group of judges with a strong insight into your shop by telling them about it.
We hoped that by using the film to take them inside the shop and letting them see first hand some of the educational, charity and community work that we had been doing, they might get a stronger sense of what we were about.
The video was part of our presentation — the remainder was a verbal account, accompanied by slides, giving much more detail.
Right up until the day we left Shetland – and even in the hotel room the night before the presentation and on the morning of the presentation — we were rehearsing.
The final piece of the presentational jigsaw was a 28-page booklet that we produced to give to the judges covering everything we do at Frankie’s, from who we are to where we are located to the fantastic produce that we take great delight in serving, in great detail. Incidentally, we are in the process of updating this for our website (www.frankiesfishandchips.com) to tell the story of our year as champions.
As we saw it, all of these things were necessary conditions for potentially winning the No.1 title.
And as luck would have it, we were able to convince the judges that we were worthy winners.
So, from the 2015 winners, good luck to all the shortlisted fish and chip shops in the 2016 National Fish and Chip Awards. We will be at the awards in January to cheer you all on and wish you well. Enjoy!