Batter at the ready: fish 'n' chippers get set to be the best

Building on momentum from last year, the 2018 national Fish and Chips Awards kick off in August

Photo of fish, lemon wedges, salad and chips on a white plate

The FRDC will again run the competition to crown the makers of Australia’s best fish ’n’ chips in 2018, following enormous support for last year’s awards from consumers, shop owners and industry members.

“The event in 2017 proved very successful – it exceeded everyone’s expectations,” says Peter Horvat, the FRDC’s general manager of communications, trade and marketing.

“This was in part because the awards coincided with the state and territory seafood awards as well as the biennial national conference, Seafood Directions,” Peter Horvat says. “Ultimately, we were encouraged to build on the momentum from last year and continue the awards.

“We began the awards to try to educate consumers on the sustainability of the Australian seafood industry and where their seafood comes from,” he says.

The 2017 awards gave the FRDC access to a large number of consumers interested in receiving more information on seafood. This year the awards will provide further opportunity to push important sources of information such as the Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports.

Photo of 2017 Fish and Chips Award winner Eddie Willoughby-SmithPhoto of grilled jewfish, crumbed threadfin and battered barramundi from Frying Nemo, Northern TerritoryPhoto of Senator Anne Ruston and Member for Gippsland Darren Chester

There will be a People’s Choice and a Judges’ Choice winner in each state and territory. However, only the judged category winners will go on to compete for the title of Australia’s Best Fish and Chips 2018.

The fish ’n’ chippers selected for judging will be based largely on the votes garnered, so fish ’n’ chips shops and consumers are urged to vote for their favourite via the awards website.

The FRDC has made three key changes to address issues identified last year.

  • A national vote Voting for the awards will begin on 1 August 2018 in all states and territories and will run for six weeks. The consistent timetable across the country addresses confusion caused by different dates in different jurisdictions in 2017.
  • Verifying votes The online voting system will require those voting to verify their email address, to ensure votes are genuine. This follows concerns about the potential for fake votes. Any vote not linked to a verified email address will be removed from the tally.
  • Make a case Shops will be able to submit an online application to be evaluated for the Judges’ Choice awards rather than relying solely on votes from customers. Last year several smaller shops in regional areas felt they were disadvantaged over stores in more populated areas, which had high customer traffic. To address this, the FRDC will trial a two-tiered approach that will allow judges to assess a business with a lower number of votes if the submission from the business suggests this is warranted.

Judging criteria

The verifying of votes for the People’s Choice Awards, and judging for the Judges’ Choice winners, will begin on 16 September, once voting has closed. Winners will be announced in early October.

The Judges’ Choice Awards will be overseen by an anonymous panel of judges who will visit the businesses that achieve the greatest number of votes across Australia (or which make an outstanding submission for judging).

The judging criteria have also been updated to reflect feedback. The information and labelling categories have been merged, while a presentation category has been added – how the seafood is presented and how the shop looks. All businesses will be assessed against the same criteria.

The scorecard

Taste 40%: Does the seafood taste good? Cooking method will be key here – using the right approach for the right fish and doing it well to make your seafood sing.

Service 30%: Does the service meet customer expectations? Everything from the welcome to the goodbye is important.

Choice 10%: Does the menu offer customers options? The diversity of seafood, cooking methods and batter styles will count.

Information 10%: Are customers provided with accurate information about the source and qualities of the seafood? The menu must comply with the Australian Fish Names Standard and accurately label the seafood’s provenance to a national level, or better.

Presentation 10%: Is the store clean and inviting? Is the food packaged well to maintain quality? 

Captions (from top)

Winner of the 2017 Best Fish and Chips Award, Eddie Willoughby-Smith, Frying Nemo, Northern Territory. (Photo: Michael Costa)

Grilled Jewfish, Crumbed Threadfin and Battered Barramundi, from Frying Nemo, Northern Territory

Senator Anne Ruston, the Assistant Minister for Agriculture and Water Resources, will continue her support as the patron of the awards. Senator Anne Ruston has again challenged her parliamentary colleagues to support the awards and their local fish ’n’ chips shops. Stand-out efforts last year included the Member for Gippsland,Darren Chester, who got right behind his local businesses.

Last year’s winners

National Fish and Chips Awards

Frying Nemo, Darwin, Northern Territory

State and Territory People’s Choice Award winners

  • ACT   Hughes Takeaway, Canberra
  • NSW  Terrigal Beach Fish & Chips Co, Terrigal
  • NT    Jetty and the Fish, Darwin
  • QLD  The Great British Fryer, Sunshine Coast
  • SA  Dolphin Fish Shop, Netley
  • TAS  Tasmanian Gourmet Seafoods, Cambridge
  • VIC   The Kingfisher Blue, Wheelers Hill
  • WA   Ocean and Paddock, Albany

State and Territory Judges’ Choice winners (National Fish and Chips Award finalists)

  • NSW Pelican Rocks, Greenwell Point
  • NT    Frying Nemo, Darwin
  • QLD The Great British Fryer, Sunshine Coast
  • SA    The Stunned Mullet, Henley Beach
  • TAS  Tasmanian Gourmet Seafoods, Cambridge
  • VIC   Trident Fish Bar, Queenscliff
  • WA   Ocean and Paddock, Albany

FRDC Research Code: 2017-184

More information

Peter Horvat, 02 6285 0400