With just days to go until Kingfisher hands over its title of UK's Best Independent Fish & Chip Takeaway, Craig & Nikki look back at their achievements over the past 12 months
Sitting down to write this final column, it’s hard to explain how we feel. There’s a certain pressure to try to write words that really mean something. Words that will inspire others in the industry hoping one day to be as lucky as us and all the other National Fish & Chip Award winners. Then there’s sadness because we’re not quite ready for the best year of our lives to end. But there’s also a huge amount of gratitude for the wonderful opportunities we’ve been given over the past twelve months.
As we prepare to hand over the trophy to the new Independent Fish & Chip Takeaway Award champions, we look back on 2017 with a great deal of pleasure and satisfaction. It’s certainly been a hectic year. We’ve met friers the length and breadth of the UK, travelled abroad, served thousands of portions of fish and chips and sampled one or two ourselves.
All this and we still had an increasingly busy shop and mobile unit to run, along with carrying out my NFFF duties, which are completely voluntary as is the case for all the directors in the organisation. Looking back we ask ourselves, “Where did we find the time?” We’re not sure, but we did.
There have certainly been challenges along the way but what’s great is how much we have learnt from them. For example, I’m sure many of you agree that your shop is where you feel most at home. It’s not easy to simply hand over responsibility for the business into which you’ve put every last drop of energy and passion. So spending days, sometimes weeks, away from your ‘baby’ is a wrench. It’s difficult to let go, to not be at the coalface, ensuring every portion is top drawer. But that really brought home the value of taking the time to invest in our fantastic team. Knowing Kingfisher was in safe hands while we were away was a huge comfort and allowed us to enjoy our many ‘tours of duty’.
Then there are the expectations that come with being named the UK’s No.1 Fish & Chip Shop. A pedestal is a scary seat to sit on. Being publicly named as the ‘best’ in any profession invites scrutiny, but we understand that not everyone's idea of the 'best fish and chips' is the same and that's okay. That’s not to say we’re not hugely proud of our award – we certainly are! However, as mentioned, fish and chips are different in every region. All we’ve ever aimed to do is serve the best portion of quality, sustainable fish and chips we can and keep our customers coming back for more. But we don’t cook in dripping, for example, or have a flat batter so our style doesn’t suit everyone. That’s as it should be. Everybody’s tastes are different and we’re fine with that. It’s what makes the industry unique and special. For us, the point of the awards is not to encourage identikit shops, churning out uniform ‘fish and chips by numbers’. It’s to celebrate excellence in all its different forms, to stimulate debate and get people talking about and enjoying the food we all love. Surely that makes us all winners?
So to the next champions of the 2018 National Fish & Chip Awards we want to wish you all the very best and encourage you to just keep on doing what you’re doing. You’ll reap the rewards of the inevitable increasing success of your business. But more than that, you’re also helping to publicise the industry we are all so passionate about and ensure the nation’s favourite takeaway continuously strives to be the best it can be.
To all our colleagues and friends in the fish and chips world, we salute you. To those who have followed our story, supported us and read these articles we would like to say a huge thank you too. In return, we’d like to offer our support back. We don’t claim to be the experts but we can all learn from each other’s experiences so feel free to contact us via @KingfisherDevon or firstname.lastname@example.org
So, as we said at the start of this column, during these final days as champions, we feel mixed emotions. But the prevailing one is optimism. Winning this award has given us a taste of what we can achieve when we all help and support each other. We’ll keep giving our all to our little shop in Plymouth, always adhering to our principle of never accepting second best and hoping that we can help and inspire fellow friers on the way.
This is just the beginning for us – and we are excited!
Craig & Nikki