Glasgow restaurant Gamba, which has served sustainable Scottish seafood since it launched in 1998, has scooped the inaugural title of The Caterer and Seafish UK's Restaurant of the Year 2015.
The award, made at a Champagne reception at Benares restaurant in Mayfair this evening, recognised chef-patron Derek Marshall's passion for sourcing the finest seasonal produce from Scotland along with fish from sustainable global stocks.
Situated in Glasgow's West End, Gamba was one of five restaurants shortlisted for the award, which included Hix Oyster & Fish House, Lyme Regis; Outlaw's at the Capital, London; Rocksalt, Folkestone; and the Jetty in Christchurch.
All five shortlisted restaurants won an all-expenses-paid study trip to Brixham, Devon, which will take place later this year, courtesy of Seafish UK, to further hone their knowledge regarding the catching, processing, supply and transfer of seafood from the south west of England to other parts of the UK, and to meet a range of key industry players and experience some of the world's freshest and tastiest seafood.
Gamba received a bespoke trophy for the restaurant, a seafood masterclass course at Billingsgate Seafood Training School, and a £200 Russums voucher. There will also be a range of other prizes, including vouchers to be redeemed against workwear, chef jackets and signed copies of cookery books.
The finalists, selected for their expert use and knowledge of fish and shellfish, were chosen from a longer list of 10 selected restaurants visited by a mystery shopper, a Seafish-appointed auditor, last month.
The original paper judging and a roundtable discussion, which saw 10 shortlisted restaurants reduced to a top five and an overall winner, were judged by a panel comprising John Campbell, chef and managing director at the Woodspeen in Newbury; Atul Kochhar, chef and managing director of Benares restaurant & bar, London; consultant chef Alfred Prasad (previously with Tamarind Collection and Zaika, London); André Garrett, executive head chef at Cliveden House in Taplow, Berkshire; Will Smith, co-proprietor, Arbutus Restaurants, London; Xavier Rousset, wine consultant and co-founder of Texture and 28°-50°, London; and AA group area manager Giovanna Grossi.
The judges commented: "All of the finalists make you proud of the work going on in UK restaurants educating staff and customers alike about the merits of serving and eating fish and shellfish.
"Gamba submitted a brilliant entry, which was backed up by the mystery shopping exercise. All the menus make you want to go and eat there and they shout provenance and sustainability, and this is supported by the restaurant's three-star rating from the Sustainable Restaurant Association. It's obvious that the team at Gamba work hard, day in, day out to deliver great-tasting food and they are clearly passionate about what they do."
Seafish CEO Paul Williams added: "Celebrating the people and businesses that are the public face of our industry and who do such an amazing job in promoting the great wealth and variety of fish and shellfish available to the UK consumer is extremely important.
"That is why Seafish is honoured to be part of these awards, crowning Gamba as the 2015 Restaurant of the Year, and demonstrating the importance of the responsible sourcing of the freshest, sustainable produce which, thanks to the skill and expertise of chefs like Derek Marshall and his kitchen and restaurant teams, goes into creating inspiring cuisine for everyone to enjoy.
Seafish UK is a non-departmental public body 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 2015 was created to find restaurants demonstrating both excellent examples of the cooking and serving of fish and shellfish, as well as evidence of fish and shellfish knowledge among their staff, both front and back of house.