The final shortlist for the 2016 Restaurant of the Year competition, organised by The Caterer and Seafish UK, has been unveiled following a judging session in central London.
Five restaurants from across the UK, selected for their use and knowledge of fish and shellfish, were chosen from a long list of 11 restaurants which were visited by a mystery judge - a Seafish UK appointed auditor - last month.
The final top-five shortlisted businesses (in alphabetical order) are:
The Jetty, Christchurch
The Staith House, North Shields, Tyne & Wear
The final five will now be invited to attend an awards ceremony in London in September, when the overall national winner will be announced.
The overall winner, now in its second year, will scoop up an all-expenses-paid study trip to either Brixham in Devon or Peterhead for up to three members of the winner's restaurant, courtesy of Seafish UK. Shadowed by The Caterer, the trip will allow the winner to further hone their knowledge regarding the catching, processing, and supply of seafood, and to meet a range of key industry players and experience some of the world's freshest and tastiest seafood.
The winner will also receive a bespoke trophy for their restaurant and a seafood masterclass course at Billingsgate Seafood Training School. There will also be a range of other prizes, including vouchers to be redeemed against cookery equipment and signed copies of cookery books.
The judging panel included Derek Marshall, chef-owner of Gamba in Glasgow (and the winner of the Restaurant of the Year competition in 2015), José Souto, chef-lecturer in Culinary Arts, Westminster Kingsway College; Calum Richardson, proprietor of the Bay Fish & Chips, Stonehaven, Aberdeenshire; Will Smith, restaurateur; Xavier Rousset, wine consultant and proprietor of restaurant Blandford Comptoir, in London's Marylebone and AA group area manager Giovanna Grossi.
"The commitment and passion demonstrated by our shortlisted 11 was clearly evident, but the top five restaurants showcase some of the best species and variety of fish and shellfish being served in the UK right now," said Amanda Afiya, editor of The Caterer and chair of the judging panel.
"Their dedication to sourcing responsibly caught and sustainable fish for their customers, and producing interesting and innovative menus with it, is admirable and that is what we want to promote to a wider audience."
Andy Gray, trade marketing manager at Seafish, added: "Making it to the top five of Seafood Restaurant of the Year is a great achievement for all of the finalists. It is recognition that they exhibit exceptionally high standards, excelling in providing customers with top quality fish and shellfish dining experiences."
Seafish UK is a non-departmental public body (NDPB) set up to improve efficiency and raise standards across the seafood industry, and is also the organiser 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.
The Restaurant of the Year competition was created to find restaurants demonstrating both excellent examples of cooking and serving of fish and shellfish, as well as evidence of fish and shellfish knowledge among its staff, both front and back of house.
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