Chip Shop of the Year 2019: Calderdale chippies fry up storm and reel in awards

Chip Shop of the Year 2019 winner: West Vale Fisheries, featuring counter assistant Lydia Horsfall and owner Mark Kosanovic
Chip Shop of the Year 2019 winner: West Vale Fisheries, featuring counter assistant Lydia Horsfall and owner Mark Kosanovic

The votes are in and 2019’s Chippy of the Year award goes to West Vale Fisheries, serving one of Britain’s best loved dishes for 15 years.

From UK stars like Frank Bruno, Sugar Ray Leonard, and Thomas ‘The Hitman’ Hearns, the chippy, on Stainland Road, is a popular spot for some of the biggest names in boxing.

Chip Shop of the Year runner-up: Northowram Fisheries. Ann Robinson (left) with owner Debbie Richmond

Chip Shop of the Year runner-up: Northowram Fisheries. Ann Robinson (left) with owner Debbie Richmond

As well as winning Chippy of the Year, the eatery was a runner up in the category Best Fish and Chip Shop in West Yorkshire, at England’s Business Awards.

West Vale Fisheries owner, Mark Kosanovic said: “We’re overjoyed to have won.

It’s an amazing way of capping off a fantastic year. We’re hugely grateful for our customers who voted for us.”

Mr Kosanovic, who started West Vale Fish & Chips in 2004, also runs Brackenbed Fisheries, in Pellon, which opened in 2001.

Towngate Fisheries, Sowerby Bridge, third place in the Halifax Courier Chip Shop of the Year competition. Manager Kimberley Gregory (left) with assistant Karen Ianson

Towngate Fisheries, Sowerby Bridge, third place in the Halifax Courier Chip Shop of the Year competition. Manager Kimberley Gregory (left) with assistant Karen Ianson

He said: “We’ve had some amazing celebrity endorsements, from Frank Bruno to Sugar Ray Leonard.

“We’re a locally-focused fish and chip shop, but we get customers coming from far and wide.

“I think one of the secrets is maintaining a high standard of quality food and customer service which will keep people coming back, as they know what to expect.”

The award-winning chippy owner is always keeping one eye on the future too.

He said: “We’d like to attract more big names to the business such as Tyson Fury, and our ambition for 2020 is to target national fish and chip shop awards.

”We want to do our part for the ongoing revitalisation of West Vale, and help bring in as much business and attention as possible so everyone can benefit.”

Pipped to the post to this year’s coveted fish-frying award is Northowram Fisheries, on Lydgate, which takes second prize.

Business partners Andrew Feather and Debbie Richmond took over the chippy in April from its previous owner and aims to bring the takeaway back to its former glory.

The chippy offers a variety of healthier options and provides a sustainable business model for the environment.

Mr Feather said: “We’ve introduced four major changes.

“We offer lighter portions of fish and chips, aimed at customers wanting reduced calories.

“We’ve moved from serving in greaseproof paper to cardboard boxes because the latter is better to recycle, plus it keeps the batter on the fish where it should be, rather than stuck to the paper when it’s unwrapped.

“We hate plastic with a passion, so we use wooden forks, paper bags, aluminium cans for drinks, and urge customers to bring their own bags like they do at supermarkets.

“Finally, we’ve introduced contactless card payment so customers can pay by debit and credit card, phone or even by watch. When we started out 10 per cent of our business was done by card, but it’s grown every month and we’re now doing 30-35 per cent some weeks.

“Ms Richmond is the manager looking after the food-side, the quality and staff.

“We run it together with excellent assistance from Ann and Teagan, our counter staff.”

Every two months the team at Northowram Fisheries hand-deliver 2,000 newsletters personally written and delivered to homeowners on the chippy’s progress and plans for the future.

The Northowram chippy receives stock from VA Whiteley, which supply the sustainably-sourced Icelandic haddock, and receives its potatoes from supplier PG Chips.

“We’ve had customers tell us they’ve travelled from Bradford, Wibsey, Halifax, Southowram and Wheatley to buy from us,” said Mr Feather.

“Quality and consistency of food supplied and excellent customer service should always be priority.”

Plans for the future include new additions to the menu, such as scampi and battered onion rings, and Mr Feather is aiming for a nationally-recognised quality award to confirm the highest of standards.

Making up the final podium position with third place is Towngate Fisheries.

The Sowerby Bridge-based takeaway has been serving the Upper Calder Valley public for nine years after current owner Lee Isherwood opened the establishment.

Within the past two years, Mr Isherwood said the management has changed after the introduction of Kim Gregory, who has steered the chippy to calmer waters.

Mr Isherwood said: “We’re only a small shop so we’re over the moon with the result.

“Kim Gregory is the manager and she’s employed great staff and turned the shop around.

”She’s local and knows the customers. I can’t speak highly enough about her and the excellent job her and the staff do.

“We provide kids meals, OAP specials, and a first-class friendly service.”

Receiving stock mainly from T Quality, Mr Isherwood said customers travel from all over Halifax to come to the shop because of the “good fresh quality food and friendly staff”.

He said: “We get to know customers and what they usually order and have a laugh with them.

“Consistency of the food is important, which is why we only use quality Haddock and the best potatoes available even if they’re expensive to buy.

“We’ll keep cooking good food and hopefully attract more customers.”