A WORCESTERSHIRE fish and chip shop is in line to net its second national accolade in a year after being shortlisted for the regional heat of the 2017 National Fish and Chips Awards.

Catchems End, Bewdley, is one of three county chippies to be selected for the Midlands heat of the competition run by seafood authority Seafish. The others are The Golden Carp Chippy, Redditch and Winyates Chippy, also in Redditch. They are all in with a chance of being named the UK’s Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year.

Catchems End has already received the prestigious National Federation of Fish Friers (NFF) Fish and Chip Quality Award this year. It also recently gained the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) certification which shows its commitment to supplying fish from responsibly sourced population and supplied from responsible fisheries.

The chippy is a family-run business owned by Greek Cypriot George Georgiou who has worked there for 30 years. He said: “It was my first job and I managed it for eight years. Then I had the opportunity to buy the shop, so I did.”

He puts his success down to a passion for the job, the best ingredients, keeping up with the times – he only uses line-caught fish and biodegradable packaging for the food – and great customer service.

“I love my job. I am really passionate about it. I like to see a smile on the faces of my customers and I like to see them coming back. It gives me pleasure.

“We take care of what we do, use the best ingredients and the service has to be good. We have to keep up our standards and modernise with the times. We have a good staff too.”

George added that the shop was completely refurbished three months ago and fitted with brand new equipment including the “Rolls Royce” of fish fryers.

Although the shop has won awards in the past, he said: “The best award is when the customer gives me a compliment. We show them that you do not have to go to the seaside for the best fish and chips.”

The contenders for the awards have to fry up a storm in the face of rigorous judging to secure a top spot. In reaching this stage they have been appraised by industry experts across a variety of judging criteria, including menu development and innovation, sustainable sourcing policies, customer service and staff training processes, marketing and promotional flair, and how they attract new customers to fish and chips.

Over the coming weeks, shops will be subjected to further judging as they receive mystery shopping assessments.

The next stage of the competition will whittle down the line-up, establishing a UK top 20 that will subsequently compete to be crowned with a prestigious ‘regional’ title.

Following a further judging stage, the overall national winner will be announced in January after a seven-month long judging process.

Marcus Coleman, Chief Executive at Seafish, added: “The Independent Takeaway Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Award is one of the highest honours a fish and chip business can receive.

“Many of our past winners and finalists have gone on to reap substantial benefits, including increased shop footfall and turnover and media fame through overseas industry study trips; some have even launched their own branded products.

“Receiving this award is the pinnacle of many friers’ careers, but only one can take home the title. I wish all contenders the best of luck as they move onto the next stage of judging and look forward to seeing who comes out on top.”

Culminating in an awards ceremony at the Park Plaza Westminster Bridge hotel on January 26 2017, The National Fish and Chip Awards are recognised as one of the most prominent and respected seafood industry events in the UK. They celebrate the Great British tradition of fish and chips, showcasing the best talent, quality and choice offered by fish and chip businesses through 13 different award categories.