Fish Bar Blog
|The Missing Months |
|24th April 2011 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|Winning the UK Fish & Chip Shop of the Year Competition has been a rewarding experience. As we have said before, it is the ‘Oscar’ of our industry, the ultimate achievement. In an industry where there are more than 11,500 individual fish and chip shops throughout the UK, you can NEVER become complacent and think ‘well that’s it, we’ve done it. Let’s sit back and relax now’. On the contrary. You must always continue to keep a step ahead of the game, continue to excel at what you do best and above all, never let award-winning standards slip. |
‘It’s tough at the top’ is the saying that springs to mind. And the past 2 years has certainly been no picnic. So much so, that unfortunately we have had to turn down many invitations to industry events, dinners and social outings as we find ourselves working more days and longer hours. However, we have a fantastic team of hard-working staff (all 44 of them at present) who, like ourselves, are dedicated to the long-term success of Anstruther Fish Bar.
Many of our customers have written or emailed us to say they miss our regular blogs and news updates on the website, so we will try to post our news as often as possible. In the meantime, we will fill in the missing months ……………
|Plenty fish in the sea . . . . |
|26th February 2009 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|It was encouraging to read today that there is a considerable amount of Hake being landed in the South West of the country which is unusual for this time of year as Hake are normally more abundant in the summer months. We speak to many Scottish skippers who also tell us that Haddock stocks in the North Sea are currently at an increasingly high level which is good news indeed amid confusing claims that UK stocks are becoming depleted. |
These increases appear to be a direct result of the correct management of each respective fishery. This sustainable management is obviously working. The hake that is being landed in the south west is Northern European Hake. It is from a well recovered stock that is currently working towards certification to the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) environmental standard for sustainable fishing.
North Sea Haddock is being landed by a growing number of vessels that are certified through the Responsible Fishing Scheme (RFS) which has been successfully developed by Seafish to raise standards in the catching sector. The scheme was created in response to the needs of the seafood supply chain to demonstrate its commitment to the responsible sourcing of seafood. With well over 570 vessels from the UK fleet now certified, the aim is that, over time, accreditation will become a condition of supply.
Customers buying fish and chips today want to know that the product they buy is not just fresh and of high quality but is being caught responsibly and with consideration for the marine environment. At Anstruther Fish Bar we continue to take a lead in providing all our customers with sustainable seafood and for some years now have only sourced fish from well managed fisheries using responsible fishing methods.
It's great to see so many fish and chip shops all over the UK now offering customers a choice of sustainable seafood products on their menus. Fish such as mackerel, saithe, hoki, tilapia, Alaskan pollack and even farmed halibut are all starting to make an appearance at takeaway counters throughout the country. After a series of fish-tasting events, we have noticed Hake is certainly becoming more popular with customers at the Fish Bar.
As the Food Standards Agency recommends we should all be eating at least 2 portions of seafood in our weekly diet, why not visit your local fish and chip shop twice this week and try a more unusual fish supper!
|News of the World! |
|9th February 2009 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|The power of the media is immense. We have received emails, letters and cards from all over the world congratulating us on our recent achievement! There are messages from well-wishers in New Zealand, Canada, USA, Brazil, Sweden and of course many from people here in the UK who have either been to Anstruther at one time for a fish supper or promise to visit us in the future. One lady in Canada told us her great grandparents used to live in this part of the East Neuk of Fife and after reading about Anstruther Fish Bar on the internet, she is planning a visit to Anstruther later this year. |
When we were outside on the Thames Embankment for the winner’s interviews and photo call, Robert mentioned he had just been interviewed by Middle East TV. My immediate reaction was “don’t you mean East Midlands?” But no, this was actually an interview for Saudi TV! The interest from the world’s media has been amazing and the international coverage this annual competition attracts has definitely helped promote the Great British Fish Supper. Let’s hope that all visitors travelling to the UK this year want to sample our nation’s favourite takeaway.
|WINNER UK Fish & Chip Shop of the Year 2008/09 |
|23rd January 2009 ||Submitted By: Robert |
|It’s 1am and just arrived back from London. For those of you who haven’t been following today’s news reports – WE DID IT!! Anstruther Fish Bar is the winner of the UK Fish & Chip Shop of the Year competition 2008/09. |
What a day! We were honestly so surprised when TV chef Simon Rimmer opened the envelope and announced we’d won – we were speechless. In fact, we're still quite numb - the enormity of what we have achieved still hasn't really sank in! The competition this year was especially tough with some of the biggest names of our industry in the final 10. Congratulations must go to the other nine finalists who are all winners themselves. This is the start of what is going to be a really busy year for our team, and we don't just mean with fish suppers. As we move into 2009, there are many exciting things in the pipeline for Anstruther Fish Bar.
We would like to thank everyone at Seafish for all their hard work in organising this annual event, which is now in it’s 21st year. Seafish have undoubtedly helped put our nation's favourite takeaway where it is today as without this annual event and the constant media exposure they give our industry, fish and chips wouldn't be recognised at such a high level. Thanks guys!
We look forward to working with some of the key players of this industry during the coming year and will work relentlessly in maintaining the standards of Great British fish and chips. But above all, Alison and I are going to enjoy every minute of this year at the top of our trade. And already it feels brilliant!
We will keep this page updated with more information as soon as we get some sleep – it’s been a LONG day!
|Happy New Year! |
|12th January 2009 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|We can’t believe that’s us into 2009 already, where did 2008 go? We have had such a busy year in the shop with lots of different things going on, that the time has just flown by. We now find ourselves in our 6th year at Anstruther Fish Bar, though Jeff reminds us that it is actually his 9th year. And what a six years it has been! |
When we took over the helm at the Fish Bar in 2003, we had 25 years experience in the fish trade as processors so already knew a thing or two about fish and the state of the fishing industry. But I think it was the daily deliveries to other fish and chip shops throughout Central Scotland that initially started our dream to get into the frying industry. It has been a huge learning curve from the outset, learning from our mistakes as we constantly worked at improving what was already an award-winning formula. However, there’s absolutely no resting on our laurels as we are constantly looking for ways to progress in this industry. We have a rock-solid team who have developed alongside us and a brilliant bunch of friendly, loyal customers who have, without a doubt, helped put Anstruther Fish Bar where it is today.
So, dream now realised, we are once again proud to be representing Scotland in the Seafish Fish & Chip Shop of the Year Competition in London next week and are also one of the three finalists in the Contribution to the Local Community Award. Unfortunately this means that the Fish Bar will be closed on Wednesday 21st and Thursday 22nd January as most of our staff will be joining us at, what we in the trade call, “the Oscars of our industry”.
We shall be open again for business as usual from Friday 23rd.
|Merry Christmas! |
|24th December 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison, Robert & staff |
|Christmas Hours |
Out with the dates below we shall be open normal hours 11.30am – 10.00pm (Restaurant 9.30pm)
Christmas Eve Closing 7pm
Christmas Day Closed
Boxing Day Closed
Hogmany Closing 7pm
New Year’s Day Closed
2nd January Closed
We will be closed this year from Monday 5th until Saturday 10th January (dates inclusive) to allow for essential shop maintenance.
Customer Prize Draw
Santa has pulled out the winning tickets from a bumper bunch in this year’s Christmas Prize Draw. The main lucky winners are:
1st £300 CASH – Ed Black, Anstruther
2nd Nintendo Wii – Lana Owen, Anstruther
3rd Luxury Hamper – Chapman Mathers, St Monans
There are lots more prizes to be handed out, a list of winners will be posted in the window over the holidays.
We would like to thank everyone for their continued support over the years and wish you all a Very Merry Christmas and a Guid New Year.
|23rd December 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|We had an early start today (5.30am to be precise) as Robert and I were invited to guest on the Talk107 Breakfast Show with presenters Liz Clarke and Scott Wilson to chat about fish and chips. Nothing too difficult in that we thought, but the request of two Anster fish suppers proved to be a bit of a challenge! Was it possible to fire up the pans at 5.30am, cook the fish and chips and still have them hot and crispy in the Edinburgh studios two hours later? Absolutely impossible we thought. So taking the advice of some customers, we cooked them last thing on Monday night, kept them chilled until we got to the studios then heated them up in a microwave for the presenters’ breakfast! Now we have to say we have NEVER reheated a fish supper this way, and to be honest, don’t know if we would particularly recommend it unless you like a soft batter on your haddock but Liz and Scott tucked in to two lovely looking fish suppers live on air and thoroughly enjoyed them. Of course we took along some salt, vinegar and chippy sauce, a wee portion of mushy peas and a couple of bottles of our other national drink to add to the whole experience. |
The breakfast show with Liz and Scott has quite a following in the Edinburgh/Fife area, especially with the 45yrs+ bracket (which includes ourselves!) so Imagine our disbelief when Scott then told us that nearly three years after going on air, Edinburgh's speech-based radio station Talk107 is to be closed down on 24th December. Apparently the station’s financial problems have led to owners UTV Radio handing back the broadcasting licence to industry regulator OfCom leaving about 20 staff unemployed from Christmas Eve – talk about bad timing! Audience listening figures were at an all time high but for a station still in it’s infancy it was never given the opportunity to develop any further. It appears no-one is exempt from this so called ‘credit crunch’ and will probably be documented in the press as just another statistic of 2008’s closures. But I have to say, there are many talented presenters with Talk107, especially Scott and Liz who will hopefully not be waiting too long before they hit our airwaves again. Talk107 was unique in that there was no music interrupting the chat. And it was good chat, not just some inane drivel that some presenters use to fill in the gap between songs. Many people will miss this station when it closes tomorrow. However,
Scott and Liz showed their true professional colours by remaining cheery and upbeat throughout their show, even as bouquets of flowers and gifts from listeners were being handed in and letters of farewell were read out.
Robert and I feel privileged to have been a part of their last day on air and would like to wish Scott, Liz and all the others all the very best of luck for the future and hope that they can pop in to the Fish Bar sometime to get a ‘real’ fish supper!
|WINNER: Scotland’s Fish & Chip Shop of the Year 2008/09 |
|24th November 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|What a weekend! |
Seafish manager Nikki Hawkins caught us totally by surprise on Friday evening when she called to tell us that Anstruther Fish Bar had won Scotland’s Fish and Chip Shop of the Year 2008/09!
It’s the ultimate accolade in this business – being awarded the title of best fish & chip shop in your area in the annual Seafish UK Fish & Chip Shop of the Year Competition. And when your area also happens to be your country, it doesn’t get much better than this, apart from obviously winning the UK title that is! I’m sure Huw Jones, whose shop Finnegan’s in Porthcawl, Wales and the owners of The Fish and Chicken Inn in Ballymena, Northern Ireland also share this same sense of national pride.
So what next? The 10 winning shops from each area now go to London in January to compete in the UK finals. We will be required to make a business presentation in front of a panel of industry experts and answer questions on a wide variety of industry related topics including sustainable sourcing, health and safety and product quality. We are up against some stiff competition this year , especially with the presence of our friend Mark Petrou, to whom we came 2nd in the UK finals in 2007. Mark proved to be a brilliant ambassador for the fish and chip industry during his reign at the top and remains a tough act to follow, as is current holder Gordon Hillan of the Townhead Café in Biggar who has a wealth of experience in this industry.
So, for those customers who were fortunate enough to be in the Fish Bar on Friday evening, we hope you enjoyed your champagne with us as we popped the corks and began a small celebration which ended up going on until the early hours of Saturday morning.
But it’s business as usual now as we continue to concentrate on providing quality fish suppers to all of our customers . Robert and I would like to say a huge thanks to all of you for your loyal custom and continued support without which we wouldn’t be where we are today.
|More Famous Faces |
|8th September 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|There’s nothing more humbling than spotting a celebrity chef in your queue waiting patiently for his fish supper alongside everyone else! Nick Nairn, an advocate of fresh, local, quality produce was one of the latest famous personalities who dropped in for a visit. Nick owns and runs his own Nick Nairn Cook School in Port of Menteith in the Trossachs - another beautiful part of Scotland. The whole concept of a celebrity chef running his own cooking school for mere mortals like us is brilliant! So with Christmas looming up fast I think I’ll start dropping a few hints now for a voucher for one of his day classes. |
We hope you enjoyed your meal, Nick
We chatted to Scotland’s greatest snooker player, Stephen Hendry last week. He made the journey to Anstruther for fish suppers for himself and his family from his home in Auchterarder. Hope you enjoyed your icecreams too Stephen on what was probably one of the sunniest evenings we’ve had here in Anstruther all summer!
Thanks for your custom.
|Family Training! |
|5th September 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|Youngest son Andrew has just completed his first week at College where he is studying Professional Cookery and just loves it! |
You may wonder why he should go off to college to learn when we could quite easily have given him all the training required for a job in the frying industry ourselves? After all, we did win the Seafish Training Award for the UK this year.
But I think training your own family is slightly harder. The social skills gained from his years at college as well as the obvious knowledge and professional tuition that he’ll gain are giving him the opportunity to further develop his own skills and personality before joining the rest of the family in the frying industry. He is determined to succeed and is already talking of owning his own place one day.
But, in the meantime, Andrew will still be working with us at weekends and who knows, we may start to see more creative fish dishes on the menu at the Fish Bar in the coming weeks and months!
|Iconic Status |
|30th August 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|A magazine article I read this week announced something which we all probably suspected anyway – ‘Fish and Chips are officially a British Icon’. Our nation’s favourite takeaway meal has finally been granted iconic status. So, what can be more British than fish and chips? Well, we are looking at bowler hats, Big Ben, the red phone box, the mini (motor, not skirt!) – all things instantly recognisable as British. |
With over 11,500 fish and chip shops in the UK selling over 250 million fish and chip meals every year the popularity of our humble fish supper is at an all time high. With the recent rise in quality and standards across the board, our industry is going from strength to strength as consumers, opting to eat at home instead of dining at more expensive restaurants, are choosing their local chippie for a quality, nutritious meal.
We shall always be a nation of take-away lovers. Changing lifestyles and busy family life dictates that our need for a convenient, nutritious, as well as affordable, takeaway meal has never been more apparent. The media is full of information on the health benefits of eating more seafood so it’s up to us fish and chip shop owners to provide our customers with the healthier choice of takeaway and where better to start than a freshly cooked fish supper – high in protein, packed with vitamins, a natural source of omega3, and lower in fat and calories than other more popular takeaways. Put simply – only three ingredients fish, potatoes and batter, you know what you’re eating!
Fish and chips – the great British meal!
|Seafish Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Competition 2008 |
|16th August 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
Well that’s us finally got our 200 completed nomination forms in (think ‘gold dust’!) from our customers and the results don’t look too bad at all! They’ll be kept in the safe now until we get them posted off to Seafish next week and will let everyone know how we progress in further rounds of the competition as soon as we get word.
Thanks for voting everyone – it’s really appreciated.
|Famous Faces |
|9th August 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|We have very observant staff working for us! Lovely Lorraine Kelly was spotted by Sharon in the restaurant recently when she was out with her brother and his Japanese wife, who happened to be on her first trip to Scotland. Lorraine told us that they were giving her sister-in-law a tour of Scotland’s top attractions and had to try one of our famous fish suppers! |
Lorraine gave us an autograph and sketch of our fisherman to add to our growing collection from famous visitors to the Fish Bar and also gave us a favourable mention in her Sunday Post column too.
Monday night was made more interesting by a visit from Brian Cox and his family (spotted by Sarah and a few customers!). Brian is an Emmy award-winning actor whose most memorable films include The Bourne Identity, The Bourne Supremacy and Braveheart. There are some other 132 films to his credit – yes, we googled him just to count them!!
We’re honoured he chose to visit us for a fish supper but respected his privacy and didn’t ask for an autograph!
|Seafish Fish and Chip Shop of the Year Competition 2008 |
|26th July 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison Smith |
|Round 1 |
Well, there’s a great buzz of excitement amongst staff and customers here at the moment as we enter the first round of the ‘big’ F & C Competition 2008. We start with 200 nomination forms being handed out to our customers in the Fish Bar over the next 3 weeks. This gives them the opportunity to score us on different aspects of our business but most importantly, on our fish and chips!
Living in this close-knit community, it’s no mean feat finding customers who aren’t related in any way to the 40 staff who are employed here and unfortunately residents outside the UK are also exempt from voting – but, we can only continue to do our best and keep our fingers-crossed that our fish and chips will do the talking and let our customers decide!
Watch this space for further developments…
|Wellies to Work Weekend |
|18th July 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison |
|With our community’s obvious connections and involvement with the sea, The Royal National Mission to Deep Sea Fishermen is the main focus of all our fund-raising at Anstruther Fish Bar. We can always guarantee great support from local people in the community with any fundraising events we undertake. |
So it was no surprise when our team decided to hold another successful ‘Wellies to Work’ weekend, this year from Friday 11th until Sunday 13th July to raise money for the charity.
Thanks to everyone who donated or took part in this fundraiser for The Mission – with collections from customers alone over the 2 ½ days, we raised £425.
Customers particularly liked Hannah and Sharon’s wellies – which coordinated with their uniforms perfectly. Maybe we should all get some? David definitely deserves a special mention for lugging his big heavy steel toe-capped yellow wellies around with him all weekend – a test of sheer endurance!
Great fun! And since around 30 of us now possess really cool wellies we’ll just have to do it all over again next year!
|Staff Outing - GoApe, Aberfoyle |
|7th July 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison Smith |
|It’s not all hard work at Anstruther Fish Bar – we have regular outings and various team building activities involving our staff, which all go towards building on staff morale and basically making working here fun! A highlight this year was a day’s skiing at Glenshee for 12 of us (including 4 complete beginners). Scotland has some amazing skiing given the ideal conditions and this winter was no exception. |
Unfortunately we can’t all go on these outings at the one time! So, 6 of our intrepid staff recently decided to try out the adventure experience GoApe in Aberfoyle.
This was not for those who suffer from vertigo, midge attacks or car sickness! After a 3 hour journey (courtesy of Jeff’s Sat Nav) we finally arrived, a bit late, at GoApe, a bit unsure of what to expect. Well, after a half hour formal training on which harness goes where and what to do in the event of a fall, we entered the forest by way of the longest aerial zip wire in the UK. And we thought that was scary? This was quite an adrenaline rush and we can’t recommend it highly enough so, once it gets a bit quieter at work and we have a bit more time, we shall be organising bigger groups to experience GoApe too. www.goape.co.uk
|French TV Visit |
|2nd July 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison Smith |
|It’s visits like these that make this job so much fun – just ask our staff. |
Last Thursday saw French TV chef Julie Andrieu (apparently the French equivalent of Gordon Ramsay!) and her film crew arrive at The Fish Bar to make a documentary for Channel France5 programme ‘Fourchette et Sac à Dos’ which, basically translates as ‘fork and rucksack’!
This series travels the world looking for small independent restaurants/dining experiences that specialise in fresh local produce that is sourced sustainably.So I guess we must have ticked all the right boxes and were honoured to be chosen to take part in this programme.
Filming began early morning (6.30am) with our manager Paul buying our fish on Peterhead market. Cameras then followed that day’s haddock down the road to our small processing company, Argofish, in nearby StMonans where they filmed Paul, Steve, Neale and Christopher hand filleting the fish ready for the first delivery to the Fish Bar in time for opening! With the introduction of fish skinning and fish filleting machines in the processing industry nowadays, we still firmly believe that hand filleting in this traditional way produces a higher quality fillet that can almost always be guaranteed boneless. Julie was also intrigued by our smokehouse where the brined haddock are simply hung above a pile of wood shavings and left to smoke away for a few hours and told us she couldn’t wait to taste some later on. These methods have become part of a dying trade here in the East Neuk of Fife with only a few of these highly sought after craftsmen still operating in this traditional way.
On to the Fish Bar and already it was starting to get a bit too busy to keep our top restaurant tables empty for the assembled film crew and their assistants. However our customers didn’t appear to mind waiting as they were informed that they may feature on French TV! Everything went smoothly and I suppose Robert and I needn’t have worried unduly about our interviews as they will either have sub-titles or be overdubbed in French!
The finished programme goes out in August and we hope to have a link to it on this website by then.
|The Launch |
|1st July 2008 ||Submitted By: Alison Smith |
|Well here at last is the start of our long awaited Fish Bar Blog! |
We have had so many requests, from people in our industry and from customers alike, to share the day to day happenings at Anstruther Fish Bar on our website. So this new blog will give us and our family the opportunity to share with you our views on current fishing industry issues, chip shop industry information as well as the general day to day occurrences at the Fish Bar.
There’s never a dull moment here, especially now that the busy tourist season has kicked off. I just hope we can find the time to add these blogs on a regular basis!