The Caterer and Seafish UK are inviting entries for the 2019 Seafood Restaurant of the Year competition, following successful wins from Gamba, Glasgow, in 2015, the Jetty, Christchurch, Dorset, in 2016; the Salt Room in Brighton, East Sussex, and the Idle Rocks, in St Mawes, Cornwall, who won the 2018 Seafood Restaurant of the Year award.
Restaurants do not have to have a standalone fish menu or exclusively offer fish and shellfish to be considered. Businesses are asked to focus on examples of excellent customer service, innovative ideas to drive sales of fish and shellfish, and evidence of varied fish and shellfish dishes alongside sustainable policies and practices.
The 2018 judging panel included Calum Richardson, owner of the Bay Fish and Chips in Aberdeenshire; Giovanna Grossi and Amanda Afiya, hospitality training consultants and co-founders of Sauce Intelligence; José Souto, chef-lecturer at Westminster College, London; and Adam Bateman, group operations and development chef, IHG hotels.
Guy Owen, the head chef of the Idle Rocks, last year's winners, said: "We were absolutely over the moon to be awarded the Seafood Restaurant of the Year 2018. It was, without a doubt, thanks to the fantastic team here - who work so hard to understand our food and ensure that we are sourcing the fish and shellfish that we use in a responsible and sustainable manner, in order to protect the biodiversity of our oceans."
e Idle Rocks was chosen as the winner of the 2018 competition due to Owen's ethos and focus on the main ingredient on the plate and the classical skills that he has passed on to his team. The kitchen brigade at the Idle Rocks are all heavily involved in creating seasonal and modern dishes on the menu.
Besides the kudos of being judged by a prominent judging panel and the benefits to be gained from promoting your restaurant as an award-winning establishment, there are also a number of other prizes up for grabs.
Members of the overall winning restaurant will be invited on an all-expenses paid study trip to Brixham, Devon or to Peterhead, Aberdeenshire, (the winner's choice) to learn about the catching, processing and supply of seafood from either south-west England or north-east Scotland, to other parts of the UK.
Members of the overall winning restaurant will also be invited on an all-expenses paid study trip to visit Billingsgate Fish Market in London and to attend a masterclass event at the Billingsgate seafood training school.
In addition to a winner's trophy for the top restaurant, the range of other prizes to be won includes prize vouchers to be redeemed against cookery equipment and signed copies of cookery books.
The Restaurant of the Year competition is designed to identify the industry's best restaurants serving fish and shellfish and highlight best practice to a wider audience in foodservice.
Seafish is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) founded in 1981 by an Act of Parliament and aims to support all sectors of the seafood industry for a sustainable, profitable and socially responsible future. It is the only pan-industry body offering services to all parts of the industry, from the start of the supply chain at catching and aquaculture; through processing, importers, exporters and distributors of seafood right through to restaurants and retailers. Seafish is funded by a levy on the first sale of seafood landed in the UK and its services are intended to support and improve the environmental sustainability, efficiency and cost-effectiveness of the industry, as well as promoting sustainably sourced seafood.
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.
The deadline for entries is 8 July 2019 and entries can be submitted online here.
Questions regarding the competition can be sent to firstname.lastname@example.org
The competition is open to all restaurants in the UK, excluding the Channel Islands and the Isle of Man, which include fish and shellfish on their menus, and this may well be served alongside meat and special diet dishes on the menu.