A Scottish fish and chip shop with the royal seal of approval has won the 2008 national Fish & Chip Shop of the Year competition. The Anstruther Fish Bar in Fife received the award at a London ceremony on 22 January.
The Fife shop is as famous for its customers as its renowned fish and chips. Prince William was a regular visitor during his university days at St Andrews, and Oscar-winning actors Robert De Niro, Robert Duvall and Tom Hanks have all sampled its wares.
Shop owners, Robert and Alison Smith were crowned as champions after a rigorous judging process which included a customer vote, taste tests, two intense rounds of shop inspections and a presentation to a panel of industry experts.
Shops are strictly judged, not only on the quality of their fish and chips, but on all areas of the business including responsible seafood sourcing, customer service, food hygiene, staff training and community spirit.
Alison said: "Being named best in Scotland for the fourth time was fantastic for us, but claiming the national title has always been our ambition, it's the ultimate goal in our industry. The title is just reward for our hard-working staff and a great way of reminding our customers, and fans throughout the UK, where to buy the best fish and chips."
Simon said: "The high standards of our fish and chip shops rival the top restaurants in the country. The best shop owners work hard to deliver outstanding quality by using the finest ingredients and a responsible attitude to the sourcing of fish."
The announcement comes as competition organiser Seafish, the authority on seafood, reveals that fish and chip shops are profiting from the credit crunch as the UK public is buying more takeaway food.
New figures from Seafish and NPD Crest show total sales at the UK's 9,500 fish and chip shops have risen by two per cent as shops recorded sales of £717 million from March - October 2008, as more people visit the nation's favourite takeaways.
And in the eight months up to November 2008, there were more than 548 million visits to fish and chip shops - up five per cent from 523 million in 2007.
The research suggests that the UK public is opting for value for money takeaways rather than eating out in restaurants. Seafish believes fish and chip shops will profit and the industry will grow in the coming months as the credit crunch takes hold.
Andy Gray, competition judge, said: "Fish and chip shops are well-placed to prosper in the current economic climate as they offer value for money and a quality product with a feel good factor.
"Despite the credit crunch, people still want to enjoy small luxuries. Fish and chips are a national institution which have survived the test of time and will be around for many years to come."