UK - The voice of ‘food and drink’ reason on the hit BBC Radio 2 show, Drive Time with Simon Mayo, is bringing his signature charm to the 2015 National Fish & Chip Awards.
Household favourite Nigel Barden will take to the stage at a packed awards ceremony in The Lancaster London Hotel on 20 January 2015, where he will make or break the dreams of fish and chip business owners from across the UK, as they vie to be named the best at making the nation’s favourite dish - fish and chips.
On signing on the dotted line, Nigel said that he couldn’t wait to get stuck in to all that comes with the responsibility of hosting the awards, including eating lots of fish and chips!
Nigel added: “I’m a huge fan of seafood and one of my earliest memories is eating fish and chips out of a newspaper on the pier with my grandparents. I now love munching on them with my three young sons.
“It’s an iconic national dish and having previously sat in the audience watching the awards being handed out, I thought I’d like to be doing that. Now I have the opportunity to do so, and so Christmas has come early for me!
Organised by Seafish, the UK’s official authority on seafood, The National Fish & Chip Awards recognise outstanding people and businesses performing at the top of their game. Now in their 27th year, the awards are the most popular seafood industry event in the UK.
To reach the finals, fish and chip businesses up and down the country have undergone several judging stages including being appraised by mystery shopper judges. The awards ceremony in January marks the end of a seven month long judging process.
Paul Williams, Chief Executive of Seafish, said: “At last, we can announce that Nigel is coming to town with us. He’s always been a favourite of mine, so it’s a real treat that he is hosting the awards.
“Nigel is a pedigree foodie having been extolling the virtues of British food on the BBC since 1990 and as chairman of the tasting panel for the Great Taste Awards, championing British artisan food producers. What’s more he has the charisma of a showman so we’ve got the whole package with him.
“With the countdown to the awards well and truly under way, finalists in the flagship Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award, will be starting to put together their final presentations for the industry judging panel. Yes it’s a nerve wracking process but at least they can get excited about the ceremony ahead of them, with Nigel as a fantastic host.
“There’s a lot to be gained from taking part in the awards which is why the entrants undergo this level of pressure to win – something Nigel can empathise with because to serve up beautifully cooked fish and chips night after night, is indicative of a well run business and a fully motivated team.”
Over the years, entrants have reported rapid sales increases and celebrity status in the wake of success in the awards. One of last year’s winners – Quayside in Whitby, North Yorkshire – reported a 100% increase in turnover only eight months after winning the coveted Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award in January 2014.
Describing the takeaway and restaurant’s meteoric rise to success, owner of Quayside Stuart Fusco, said: “It’s been a whirlwind. Just the other month the shop was on the BBC television programme Countryfile and a few days later I was asked to oversee the preparation of the fish and chip portions that were being introduced on British Airways flights. It’s bizarre to think that people will see my face when they open their inflight magazine. But I’m not complaining.”
Since scooping the top prize in January, Stuart has employed 10 more staff to help keep up with demand. They have gone from 40 full and part time staff to 50 full time staff, who now include posing for shop selfies with visiting customers as part of their main duties.
For further information on The National Fish & Chip Awards please visit www.fishandchipawards.com or follow @FishnChipAwards.
TheFishSite News Desk