Ten gold awards, one silver and one bronze were won by fish and chip shops at the FreeFrom Eating Out Awards earlier this week.
In the Fish and Chip Shops category, sponsored by Middleton Foods, gold award winners were Fiddlers Elbow Fish & Chips in Herefordshire; Scott's Fish & Chips in York; Something Else Fishy in Dorset; The Real Food Café in Tyndrum, Perthshire; Vinegar Jones in Cumbria and Welcome Stranger in Cornwall.
Silver and bronze went to D Fecci & Sons in Tenby, Wales, and The Golden Fry in Anglesey, respectively.
Vinegar Jones claimed its second gold in the Creme de la Creme category, along with David’s Fish and Chips, while Fishworks in Largs walked away with the top accolade in the FreeFrom ‘Newbies' category.
There was also another win for Scott’s Fish & Chips, which was awarded its second gold of the night in the Focus on Gluten category.
Judges praised all the shops on their wide-ranging menu options, transparency and clear communications. At David’s Fish & Chips in Brixham, Devon, for example, judges were particularly impressed with its practices, with the mystery diner noting: “I could see into the kitchen and I could see that our food was all cooked separately. It was then stored in a hot cabinet that they had washed down before using it and it was served in different boxes to show that it was gluten free.”
Scott Drew, owner of David's Fish & Chips, comments: "We pride ourselves on having the training in place to make sure we get everything right and that's not always easy, especially if you have a day off, so to be recognised for that with a gold award is fantastic. We started doing gluten free eight years ago, before anyone really knew what it was all about, and we've seen the market grow considerably since then. So too has our menu. We started with just fish and chips but now we do everything - sausages, curry sauce, chicken bites, scampi and our latest addition onion rings.
"Trade-wise, offering gluten free has made such a difference because it's the gluten free customer that is bringing in their family or friends, even though they aren't coeliac and want traditional fish and chips."
Michelle Berriedale-Johnson, director at the FreeFrom Awards, comments: “It is really encouraging to see how many traditional fish and chippers are now embracing the concept of ‘freefrom’ - not just offering gluten free batters and chips cooked in separate gluten free fryers - but adding dairy free and nut free items to their offer as well.
“Of all the foods that coeliacs and those on restricted diets miss, fish and chips is right up at the top of the list so there are a lot of very happy customers out there!”
The FreeFrom Eating Out Awards are designed to recognise and reward those outlets successfully catering for customers with dietary requirements and include 10 categories aimed at the whole industry from food manufacturers, hotels and pubs to restaurants, street food vendors and takeaways.