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King and Queen of the Road!…

Kingfisher Fish and Chips

We asked the UK’s No 1 Fish and Chip shop to tell us about their year in the spotlight!

As we prepare to hand over the No 1 Fish & Chip Takeaway trophy, we feel nothing but excitement for our successor. We know if they grab all the opportunities that are about to come their way, they’re in for the time of their life. It’s certainly been an incredible year for us. In 2017, we crossed things off our bucket list that we didn’t even know were on there: appear on national and international television –travel on the bullet train in Japan – catch the attention of the Michelin Guide team and more.

Listing all the amazing experiences we’ve had in the past few months would take up the best part of this magazine. But there are some that top the list. For example, we’ve travelled more this year than any other in our lives. On National Fish & Chip Day we took our mobile unit, Kingfisher on the Go, to Trinity House in London and served fish and chips from 7.30am to 3.30pm – 1,200 portions, in fact. It was hard work but such a thrill to see the hoards of people all waiting to try our food.

Our trusty Kingfisher on the Go came into its own again when we were asked to tour the UK to promote the National Fish & Chip Awards. Over five days, we visited Glasgow, Newcastle, Manchester, Birmingham and London, covering 1,000 miles and serving 2,000 free portions. At every stop, we were blown away by the queues, which were sometimes up to an hour long. Again, it was a tiring week but the amazing feedback we received made it all worthwhile.

For a small shop in Plymouth, travelling to the capital and other major cities around the UK is quite a trek. But it was nothing compared to our next stop – Japan!

October saw us, our custom-made batter and crates of our preferred MSC certified fish, fly to Fukuoka to take part in the Hankyu department store’s annual British Fair which this year was themed “Best of the Best”.  “It’ll be busy,” they said, “Around half a million visitors a week”. They weren’t wrong! During our two-week stint, we worked 12 hour shifts and served 9,000 portions of fish and chips. In one day, we served 1,400 portions, smashing the fair’s previous record of 1,300. The crowds were unbelievable; frenzied swarms of people all jostling to talk to us and sample our fish and chips. We felt like celebrities!

The best part about all the miles we’ve clocked up is that it’s all been in the name of promoting the food we love. Sure, it’s been a busman’s holiday, but when you’re doing what you love, it doesn’t feel like work.

Back on home turf and we were very excited in December to take part in filming for an American cookery show named Simply Ming. Hosted by celebrity American-Chinese chef, Ming Tsai, the show aims to help home cooks to balance East-West cuisine. The Norwegian Seafood Council was sponsoring three episodes, one which would focus on Kingfisher and our love of seafood from Norway. It was surreal to be followed by a camera crew as we took Chef Ming on a field trip to Brixham Fish Market and then back to our shop to cook together. I prepared a good old traditional fish supper while he created a simple twist on fish and chips and we exchanged tricks and tips. Bizarre to think that we will soon be beaming into thousands of living rooms across the pond!

There have been so many amazing highlights, none of which would have been possible without the support of organisations such as Seafish and NFFF who have supported us at every step. Seafish’s National Fish & Chip Awards were the catalyst for everything. Likewise, the NFFF works continuously to help improve the industry we love. The best part about winning the award, however, was being given a platform to promote the industry that has treated us so well. We’ve been given further recognition along the way – the MSC Sustainable Chef of the Year Award, Gold at the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards, the SRA Source Fish Sustainably Award and in the autumn, I was appointed Vice President of the NFFF. But we’re not interested in simply stocking a glittering awards cabinet – we want to use our accolades and experiences to help our fellow chippies across the country become the best that they can be.

We are more enthusiastic than ever about promoting delicious, sustainable fish and chips and encouraging more people to treat themselves to the country’s favourite takeaway. Our year as the UK’s No 1 might be coming to an end but for us, it’s just the beginning.

Craig and Nikki x

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