Wife and husband duo crowned fish and chips champions

Husband and wife team Tim and Kelly Barnes, from Krispies Fish and Chips located in Exmouth, Devon, United Kingdom, joined an elite team in January, as they were announced winners of the National Fish & Chip Awards 2019.

Their new title makes them one of just 31 fish and chip shops to have been awarded the title since 1988, when the competition began.

Today, there are around 10,500 specialist fish and chip shops in the U.K. They dramatically outnumber popular international fast food outlets such as McDonalds, which has 1,200 outlets, and Kentucky Fried Chicken with 840 outlets. 

The Barnes' can expect a considerable increase in turnover over the next year, as people flock to eat at an award-winning chippie, as well as opportunities to travel and to promote their business as a benchmark for all fish and chip shops to aspire to. 

“What a journey this has been and what an incredible way to top it off by being crowned the U.K.’s Fish & Chip Shop of the Year. We can honestly say it is a dream come true to win this award." Tim Barnes told SeafoodSource as the pair collected the trophy at a glittery awards luncheon in London. “We love the awards and we’d recommend anyone in the industry to enter. It teaches you so much about your business, not just showing you areas where you could improve, but also highlighting how good you already are, which is something that people find hard to see when they run their own business."

Krispies opened 20 years ago, and the Barnes' have strived to improve their shop and their offering every year. Over the years, their shop has gained a reputation for outstanding food and customer service and have won both national and local awards. 

They use Marine Stewardship Council-certified fish from the Barents Sea, which is “frozen at sea within hours of being caught, to lock in flavour and freshness,” according to Tim Barnes. It also ensures that the fish is guaranteed to come from sustainable fish stocks.

“We didn’t do this alone, and we are so proud of our 20-strong team and what they have helped us to achieve. We want to thank them from the bottom of our hearts for their hard work and faith in us. We are so excited to be looking after this prestigious award for the next year and we will do everything we can to honor its reputation before passing it on to another worthy winner next year,” Kelly Barnes said.

The couple’s journey to stardom has been long and complex. The process started eight months before with the submission of an online entry form, in which they and other entrants had to describe the attributes of their business. These are judged on far more than fish and chips. Attention is also paid to efforts towards sustainability, menu innovation, catering for special dietary requirements, customer service and marketing. All of these are an integral part of an award-winning fish and chip shop, according to competition organizer Seafish. 

Through a series of mystery shop visits and assessments, the list is gradually reduced to a short-list of 13 regional winners each autumn. These businesses enjoy benefits including learning journeys to Norway and Scotland to take an in-depth look at their respective fishing industries, and undergo further in-depth investigation, before an overall winner is decided upon.

And while the national spotlight shines firmly on that winner, there are 12 other award categories to compete for, including best mobile and best multiple fish and chip operator, best newcomer, sustainable seafood, staff training, healthy eating and marketing innovation. 

Seafish CEO Marcus Coleman congratulated all the winners.

“The National Fish & Chip Awards has been raising the bar in the industry for 31 years now, and we know how much it means to operators to win what is a famously tough competition. Securing one of the 13 award titles can be transformative for a business and each of the winners should be incredibly excited for what’s in store for them in the weeks and months to come. Congratulations to them all, thoroughly deserved,” he said.

According to the Federation of Fish Fryers, the national body for the fish and chip trade, British consumers eat more than 382 million meals from fish and chip shops every year, just over half of which (167 million) are of fish and chips. This figure equates to six servings for every man, woman, and child in the country. The annual spend each year on fish and chips in the U.K. is around GBP 1.2 billion (USD 1.6 billion). 

The federation also noted that while 80 percent of people visit fish and chip shops at least once a year, 22 percent of the population visits fish and chip shops every week. Moe than half of people (56 percent) buy fish and chips to eat at home as a family meal.


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