A fledgling Tynemouth fish and chip shop has been named among the UK’s top three.
Longsands Fish Kitchen only opened 15 months ago and is well-known North East chef Simon Walsh’s first stand-alone venture.
Now Longsands has made it through to the final three of the prestigious 2017 National Fish and Chip Awards, organised by Seafish – the only North East name in the running.
The restaurant and take-away which stands on Tynemouth’s picturesque Front Street, found out in September that it had made it on to a list of the nation’s Top 10 new fish and chip shops.
But Simon and his team will now be frying for further glory in the race to bag the Best Newcomer Award in what are regarded as the ‘Oscars’ of the fish frying industry.
Simon is understandably ecstatic that Longsands Fish Kitchen has secured a placed on the coveted final shortlist.
“We were delighted when we made it on to the Top 10 list of best new fish and chip shops. But to discover Longsands has been judged among the top three is out of this world.
“It is tremendous news for the Fish Kitchen, the Longsands team who have all worked incredibly hard to get us to this point, and the village of Tynemouth.
“We will now be going all out to fly the flag for the region and bring this much sought-after title back to the North East, and put Tynemouth on the fish and chip aficionados map.
“But win or lose, just to be recognised for the high quality and standard we are setting ourselves on a daily basis, is amazing.”
Longsands, which has been shortlisted against Stargazy Fish Bar from Tetbury, Gloucestershire, and North Beach Fish and Chips from Bridlington, East Yorkshire, will find out at a glittering awards ceremony in London on January 26 next year, if it has done enough to take the overall Best Newcomer crown.
Over the coming weeks all three finalists will face in-depth judging from an awards auditor, assessing both front and back-of-house operational aspects, to determine the overall winner.
Marcus Coleman, chief executive of Seafish, said: “Being shortlisted as a finalist at this stage in the competition is a fantastic achievement for any newly opened fish and chip business. It demonstrates their incredible talent, dedication and commitment; traits that have to be applauded.
“Juggling the demands of a new business is a challenging process. However, they have taken everything in their stride and are going from strength to strength to become great ambassadors for the wider fish and chip industry.”
Sponsored by Frymax, the Best Newcomer Award, is open to independent fish and chip businesses that have been operating since no earlier than October 1, 2014, and recognises those that are excelling in upholding the high standards of the fish and chip trade.
Andrew Marriott, brand and marketing manager for Frymax, which supplies vegetable frying fat to the fish and chip industry, added: “The future of our trade relies on top quality, and highly motivated, fish and chip businesses. This year’s three finalists all feature innovative concepts and are bringing new ideas to the fish and chip trade – each would be a worthy winner.
“The most enjoyable aspect of our involvement is to see new talented individuals who are passionately driven to produce great tasting fish and chips for their customers.
“We wish all three finalists the best of luck in the next round of judging and hope they will enjoy many years of success in our trade.”
Simon is best known for his years as executive head chef at the Close House Golf Resort in Northumberland’s Tyne Valley.
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 nearby 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.
Simon said: “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.”