Cheltenham fish and chip shop named best in Britain

Family-run Simpsons restaurant wins top award in the industry having come second twice in last few years

A Cheltenham fish and chip shop has been named the best in the UK, beating nine other regional finalists in the industry’s biggest awards.

After competing with more than 10,000 rivals across the country, and having come second twice in previous years, Simpsons Fish and Chips was named the best in the 2016 National Fish and Chip awards.

The family-run business, which opened in 2009, won plaudits from the judges for “pushing the boundaries” away from the stereotypical chippy. Its innovations include holding a gluten-free frying day once a month and publishing a children’s book to increase young diners’ understanding of fish species and sourcing.

Simpsons scooped the top title – independent takeaway fish and chip shop of the year – in the awards, which are organised by the trade body Seafish and now in their 28th year.

Thousands of entrants faced a rigorous judging process over several months, including unannounced visits from judges. Fourteen awards showcase a range of categories, from traditional takeaways to mobile operators to healthy eating and responsible sourcing.

Bonny Ritchie, who runs Simpsons with her husband, James, said: “After coming in second for this award twice over the last few years, we really are over the moon to have finally won – third time lucky.

“During the last year we’ve upped our game, streamlining our marketing activities, expanding the shop to double the size of our restaurant facilities, and launching our very own children’s book to increase awareness of fish sourcing and species.”

The Ritchies, who have just unveiled a dramatic union jflag-themed decor at the restaurant, said they had tried to develop “a strong brand which can compete with some of the familiar big catering businesses”.

They added: “This is just the beginning for us. We’re determined to push fish and chips forward and keep growing our business.”

Chris Middleton, head of communications and marketing at Seafish and chair of the judging panel, said: “Simpsons were without a doubt ready to be crowned champions – they represent a young, fresh face to the industry, backed up with tremendous experience and skill.”

In second place was Kingfisher Fish & Chips, in Plymouth, Devon, which boasts the record for the most sustainable seafood menu in the world – it has 12 MSC (Marine Stewardship Council) seafood species on the menu. This won it the separate “good catch” award for sustainable seafood.

The Cod’s Scallops in Nottingham came in third. The judges were wowed by its impressive selection, featuring many underused fish – herring, skate, gurnard, hake, and shellfish including crab, lobster, oysters and whelks – all served with chips fried in beef dripping or potato salad.

Powered by article was written by Rebecca Smithers Consumer affairs correspondent, for The Guardian on Wednesday 20th January 2016 17.41 Europe/London © Guardian News and Media Limited 2010