Two fish and chip shops shared the title of Britain’s Top Takeaway in last night’s new BBC Two TV show.
Simpsons in Cheltenham and Hird’s Family Fisheries in Huddersfield were crowned joint winners during the hour-long programme presented by Sarah Cox and comedian Darren Harriot.
The episode, the first of an eight-part series, also featured Tony’s Chippy in Glasgow, Chris’s Fish and Chips in Leicestershire, and Posh Fish and Chips in Cardiff. All five chippies were tasked with cooking a range of fish and chip shop staples which were then delivered to local families to eat, rate and score from the comfort of their dining table or sofa.
Simpsons and Hird’s Family Fisheries scored the highest, tying on 23 points.
Bonny Ritchie, who worked alongside senior manager Vic Pockett, created a menu of traditional fish and chips, tofish and chips, frickles and halloumi.
She comments: ”I’m over the moon at the result because we were up against some great fish and chip shops, some of them we had heard of and some of them we hadn’t. We went into it as the only Fish & Chip Shop of the Year winners so it felt like there was a lot of pressure on us to perform.”
With no rumblers to peel potatoes, only tabletop fryers and no hot holding, the contestants were put through their paces, with Bonny adding: “We had a great time filming it, but my it was hard! Watching me and Vic hand peel potatoes with nothing but a bucket and a funnel was utterly hilarious!
“We had an order for a boxing club of about 10 portions, which obviously when you’re at a chip shop is nothing. But when you have tiny little fryers and no hot holding, it was tough!”
Having the opportunity to highlight fish and chips through the BBC was rewarding said Bonny, adding: “Hopefully it highlights that fish and chips is a great industry to be in and that we are not all against each other. We all got on so well and got to try each other’s food at the end, which was really nice because fish and chips is so variable. Tony’s in Scotland did breadcrumbed fish, and the guys from Posh Fish & Chips did lobster. It was so different to what we would normally do so it was nice for us to see that.
“I hope the show has a really positive impact.”
Adam Hird, owner of Hird’s Family Fisheries, worked with daughter Amber to cook up a menu that included a haddock goujon butty, halloumi fries, dirty chips and a vegan pie.
Equally pleased with the result, he said: “To be joint winners is outstanding, I couldn’t be happier because we’ve always done things slightly differently to your regular fish and chip shop so to be recognised for that is an amazing feeling. It was even better doing the show with my daughter, it’s a lifetime memory. She is just a star, she’s such a lovely girl and she works so hard.
“It was great meeting everyone else too, Strad and Gina from Chris’s, and we made really good friends with Hugh and William from Scotland, they were absolute stars. I think we’re all winners to be able to work in that environment.”
During the 13 hours of filming, Adam and Amber could be seen making a pie from scratch in 30 minutes, mixing up their secret recipe batter and hand peeling potatoes.
Adam adds: “It’s still a bit surreal because we filmed it in July last year so it’s been a long wait for it to be shown. I’m looking forward to seeing what impact it will have on trade. It’s difficult times for the industry at the moment, it’s certainly something I’ve never experienced in the ten years I’ve owned the shop. I think this will be really good for the industry and, hopefully, we’ll have a few busy weeks.”