The Caterer and Seafish UK are inviting entries for the 2016 Restaurant of the Year competition, following a successful launch in 2015, which saw Glasgow restaurant Gamba claim the title.
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. Restaurants do not have to have a standalone fish menu or exclusively offer fish and shellfish to be considered.
Applicants are asked to focus on examples of excellent customer service, innovative ideas to drive sales of fish and shellfish, outstanding fish and shellfish promotional activity and evidence of varied species of fish and shellfish alongside sustainable policies and practices.
Derek Marshall, chef-owner of Gamba, the first winner of the Restaurant of the Year competition in 2015, said: "It was fantastic to win because it was the inaugural year of the competition and we knew we could tick all the judges' boxes."
The 2016 judging panel will include Marshall; Xavier Rousset, wine consultant and part owner of the Greenwich Garden; AA group area manager Giovanna Grossi; Jose Souto, author and chef lecturer at Westminster Kingsway College; and Callum Richardson, owner of the Bay Fish & Chips in Stonehaven Aberdeenshire and overall winner of the 2013 National Fish & Chip Awards organised by Seafish UK.
Initial shortlisting will take place in May and the top 10 restaurants will then be visited by a mystery shopper (a Seafish-appointed auditor) in June in order to create a final top five, which will be revealed mid to late June. The overall winner will be chosen by the judges in July.
The overall winner and two team members of their choice will be invited on an all-expenses paid study trip to Brixham, Devon, to learn about the catching, processing and supply of seafood from south west England to other parts of the UK, and will meet a range of key industry players and experience some of the world's freshest and finest seafood.
The winning restaurant will also receive a bespoke trophy 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 vouchers to be redeemed against cookery equipment and signed copies of cookery books.
The top five shortlisted restaurants will be invited to attend an awards ceremony in London in September 2016 when the overall national winner will be announced.
The 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.
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.
"In foodservice consumers put their trust in a chef that he or she will expertly prepare and serve an excellent seafood dining experience. This can be encouraged by restaurants showcasing their range of seafood dishes on their menus."
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."