The organisers of the National Fish and Chip Awards have joined forces with The Caterer to find the best restaurants in the UK serving fish and shellfish among their menu offer.
The 2015 Restaurant of the Year, in association with Seafish, is open to all restaurants in the UK, excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, serving fish and shellfish on their menus.
It will seek out restaurants demonstrating both excellent examples of the cooking and serving of fish and shellfish, and evidence of fish and shellfish knowledge among its staff both front and back of house.
The panel will include judges such as John Campbell, chef and managing director at the newly opened the Woodspeen in Newbury, Atul Kochhar, chef and managing director of Benares Restaurant & Bar, London, Alfred Prasad, director cuisine and executive chef, Tamarind Collection and Zaika, London, Andre Garrett, executive head chef at Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire, Will Smith, co-proprietor, Arbutus Restaurants, London, Xavier Rousset, co-proprietor, Texture and 28-50, London, and AA group area manager Giovanna Grossi.
Judges will be looking for clear evidence of sustainable produce, successful fish and shellfish promotion on menus and good levels of product knowledge both front and back of house.
The top 10 restaurants will then be visited by a mystery shopper (a Seafish-appointed auditor) in May in order to create a final top five, which will be revealed in early June.
The overall winner will receive a bespoke trophy for their restaurant and an individually designed seafood masterclass at Billingsgate Seafood Training School with a guest chef. There will also be a range of other prizes including, prize vouchers to be redeemed against cookery equipment and signed copies of cookery books. The shortlisted restaurants will also be invited to attend an awards ceremony in London in June 2015 at which the overall national winner will be announced.
The inaugural Restaurant of the Year competition is designed to hunt out the industry's best restaurants serving fish and shellfish and highlight best practice to a wider audience in association with The Caterer.
Seafish, the authority on seafood in the UK, is a Non-Departmental Public Body (NDPB) set up to improve efficiency and raise standards across the seafood industry. Funded by a levy on the first sale of seafood products in the UK, including imported seafood, the organisation has a mission to secure a profitable and sustainable future for the UK seafood industry.
Andy Gray, trade marketing manager for Seafish, explained: "As consumers in the UK, we have a tendency to focus our seafood consumption on five main species - salmon, tuna, cod, haddock and prawns - and yet on any one day it is estimated that there is in excess of 100 different species of fish and shellfish available for consumers to purchase and enjoy in the UK; a veritable bounty from the seas.
While many consumers are often reticent about buying seafood for preparing and cooking at home, it is however often a main menu choice for many people when they decide to eat out of home - consumers putting trust in a chef that he or she will expertly prepare and serve an excellent seafood dining experience. This point can therefore be acted upon by caterers by ensuring that there is a good variety of seafood choice on their menus. In 2013, UK consumers spent an estimated £350b on eating out of home, with meals that included seafood worth £3b.
The new Restaurant Of The Year Competition run in partnership by Seafish and The Caterer provides a fantastic opportunity to showcase the wide range of restaurants/pubs/cafes that are excelling in providing customers with top quality fish and shellfish dining experiences."
Seafish UK has launched the Restaurant of the Year competition in conjunction with The Caterer following the continued success of the National Fish & Chip Awards launched in 1988. The awards have gone from strength to strength as more businesses develop fish and shellfish dishes on their menus.
Campbell commented: "I am delighted to be judging this award, highlighting the champions of sustainable fish stocks and informing diners of such a wonderful and sustainable resource. The diversity of species in our waters is so underutilised, this award will recognise the chefs and restaurateurs that are at the forefront of bringing the wonderful array of seafood to our tables."