A North East fish and chip shop has battered its rivals to be crowned the best in Britain.
Longsands Fish Kitchen in Tynemouth only opened in August 2015.
But the restaurant and takeaway where well-known North East chef Simon Walsh heads up the kitchen, has proved it’s no small fry after scooping the Best Newcomer accolade in the prestigious National Fish and Chip Awards 2017.
Regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the fish frying industry, Simon is understandable elated his first stand-alone venture has made its mark nationally just 17 months after opening on Tynemouth’s picturesque Front Street.
He said: “We were thrilled when Longsands was named among the Top 10 best new fish and chip shops. When we made it into the final three we were ecstatic. Now to be named the best in the country is mind-blowing.
“It’s a huge honour and a massive boost for Tynemouth and the area’s fishing industry with North Shields Fish Quay just a few minutes’ walk away.
“We were up against tough competition, and to make the top three was a massive achievement. Now to go all the way is incredible.
“The National Fish and Chip Awards really are the ‘Oscars’ of our industry. I’ve been a chef for more than 25 years and won lots of plaudits along the way. But I can honestly say this win is the pinnacle of not just my career, but our team’s too.
“Everyone at Longsands really threw themselves behind the awards and is excited to be working at a fish and chip shop that can say it is among the best in the UK.
“To be recognised for the high quality and standard we are setting ourselves on a daily basis is amazing.
“It’s not just put Tynemouth on the fish and chip aficionados map, but shone the spotlight on the North East and its burgeoning and eclectic food scene which is gaining national recognition across the board.”
The win is even more incredible as Simon’s background is in fine dining.
Before opening the Longsands Fish Kitchen with business partner and long-time friend, Kevin Henderson, he was executive head chef at the Close House Golf Resort in Northumberland’s Tyne Valley.
He has also worked alongside one of the North East’s best known culinary stars, Terry Laybourne, as well as at the luxury Lakeside Hotel on Windermere, the multi-award-winning Barrasford Arms in Northumberland, and North Yorkshire’s highly acclaimed Crab and Lobster Restaurant.
But he left the world of fine dining behind in January 2015 to go it alone and open the Longsands Fish Kitchen offering a take-out service, as well as a daily changing restaurant menu making the most of the sustainably sourced seafood being landed at North Shields Fish Quay.
Simon has endeavoured to ensure the take-out especially appeals to a new wave of fish eaters, with many exotic choices alongside traditional cod and haddock, such as tiger prawns with chilli jam, salmon and smoked haddock fish cakes, and black pudding and smoked haddock Scotch egg with curry mayonnaise and chips.
It’s an approach that obviously appealed to the judges of the National Fish and Chip Awards 2017.
Longsands Fish Kitchen was shortlisted in the Best Newcomer category – open to independent fish and chip businesses that have been operating since no earlier than October 1, 2014 – alongside the Stargazy Fish Bar from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and North Beach Fish and Chips from Bridlington, East Yorkshire.
Sponsored by Frymax, the award recognises those that are excelling in upholding the high standards of the fish and chip trade.
All three finalists faced in-depth judging from an awards auditor, including assessing front and back-of-house operational aspects, before the overall winner was announced.
Simon said: “We are so proud. The food in the restaurant and take away is all locally sourced and homemade, from our signature old-fashioned curry sauce and mushy peas, to the traditional battered cod and chips, tempura tiger prawns, and the bestselling spicy shrimp burger.
“We see this as just the beginning for us. We are determined to push fish and chips forward and make sure it remains a cool brand that will appeal to the younger generation.”