St Albans and Harpenden chip shops are frying high in national awards

Daniel Koumi of The Ridgeway

Daniel Koumi of The Ridgeway - Credit: Archant

A pair of fish and chip shops have skated on to the shortlist for a 2016 national award.

Owner of Godfrey's Luke Godfrey outside his shop in Harpenden

Owner of Godfrey's Luke Godfrey outside his shop in Harpenden - Credit: Archant

The Ridgeway Fish Bar in St Albans and Godfrey’s in Harpenden are be among seven chippies in central and southern England - and 60 nationwide - ‘battering’ it out for the coveted National Fish & Chip Awards.

Daniel Kuomi, proud owner of the Ridgeway Fish Bar in Marshalswick, said: “This year I think we’re going to fare better; I have visited various fish and chip shops in the area and learned how others do what they do.”

The positive working relationship that local chippies have, says Daniel, is a credit to the area.

He went on: “They’ve got no problem with me doing that, and we’ve had people here, because at the end of the day, we’re all in the same boat.”

Daniel says his Cypriot background has stood him in good stead.

“Don’t ask me why, but where I grew up in Birmingham, all the fish and chip shops were run by Cypriots. That’s where I first started and straight away I was hooked.”

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After working in various restaurants and developing as a chef, Daniel was offered a junior position in a restaurant run by Marco Pierre White.

He explained: “I think I was too young at the time so I turned it down.”

After opening Ridgeway in 2011, the restaurant has gone from strength to strength, according to Daniel.

“It’s all been good for us so far - that’s why it’s good to put ourselves forward for awards like this.”

The chippies will be subjected to mystery shopping assessments in the coming weeks, where undercover judges will mark each restaurant on their quality, service and presentation as well as their sourcing policies, marketing and training practices.

Daniel added: “I think it’s a good thing [that mystery shoppers are used in judging]. It means the staff are kept on their toes.

“We are a close-knit community shop. We know every customer’s name - we know every customer’s dog’s name.”

Luke Godfrey, founder and owner of Godfrey’s in Harpenden, said he was delighted to get on to the shortlist but was keen to progress.

“Making it this far, to the top 60, is great but we’ve got our eye on being in the top 10.”

He added: “It’s great for the St Albans area that we’ve got two fish and chip shops in the top 60. But the competition is friendly; we’ve got different catchment areas.”

Paul Williams, chief executive of Seafish, which organises the awards, said: “The aim of the awards has always been to showcase the very best fish and chip businesses in the UK.

“This is one of the highest honours to receive as a fish and chip business.”

The shortlisted chippes will be whittled down through a rigorous judging process. Winners will be announced in January 2016.