Australia's fish 'n' chippers step back up to the plate
When it comes to that iconic Australian experience of sharing fish and chips, the national awards are upping the ante about what customers might expect
By Elisabeth Howie
Photo: Kyaw Kyaw Soe Hlaing
The FRDC has once again begun its nationwide quest to crown Australia’s best fish ’n’ chippers.
Kicking off in April, the 2019 Fish and Chips Awards were brought forward to align with the Seafood Industry Awards, which run in conjunction with the biennial Seafood Directions conference held this year in Melbourne, where the national winners will be awarded.
“The awards are a great opportunity to support local businesses and educate consumers on the sustainability of Australian fisheries and the seafood industry,” says Peter Horvat, the FRDC’s general manager of communications, trade and marketing.
“They provide us with a way to contribute to the improvement of fish shop practices, as well as address issues that consumers might have with seafood – in terms of purchasing, preparation
The awards launch follows closely on the heels of the release of the FRDC’s 2018 Status of Australian Fish Stocks (SAFS) reports. The SAFS reports are an invaluable source of scientifically robust information on the sustainability of the majority of Australia’s commercial fish stocks.
Throughout the Fish and Chips Awards the FRDC will be promoting the reports to consumers and businesses participating in the competition.
This year the awards are continuing to run across two categories: Judged and People’s Choice. Several changes were implemented based on last year’s feedback.
- National timetable: voting for the People’s Choice category began in all states and territories on Friday 19 April 2019 and ran until Friday 31 May. This ensured a consistent timetable across the country and provides time to judge the entrants for the State and Territory Awards in the Judged category, from which a national winner will also be picked.
- People’s choice: following last year’s successful trial, vote verification continued to be used as part of the online voting system. Only votes that can be verified will be counted. In addition, the FRDC added a few extra features in the background to make the system more user-friendly and strengthen security.
Nomination for judging: this year the FRDC trialled an online application system for shops to nominate themselves to be judged. The application was based on the criteria used by the judging panel. The application process aimed to allow shops across all regions to be assessed. Only the shops rated with the highest scores will be judged.
Each of the criteria has been weighted to reinforce the importance of great tasting seafood and good service. But importantly, the criteria also highlight the importance of details such as labelling, information and choice.
- Taste (40%): Does the seafood taste good? Cooking method will be key here – using the right approach for the right fish and doing it well to make your seafood ‘sing’.
- Service (30%): Does the service meet customer expectations? Everything from the welcome to the goodbye is important.
- Choice (10%): Does the menu offer customers options? This can be different types of fish or seafood, local or imported, different cooking methods (grilled, fried and so on), and different preparations (battered, crumbed or natural).
- Information (10%): Are customers provided with accurate information about the source and qualities of the seafood? The menu must comply with the Australian Fish Names Standard and accurately label the seafood’s provenance to a national level, or better.
- Presentation (10%): Is the store clean and inviting? Is the food packaged to maintain quality?
Voting ended on 31 May and the national winner of the Judged category will be announced 10 October at the 2019 Seafood Directions conference in Melbourne. State winners of both categories – Judged and People’s Choice – will be announced at their events to be held throughout June to August.
Last year’s national judged winner
National Fish and Chips Awards
Hooked on Middleton Beach, WA
Further information can be found on the awards website.