Winners of Britain’s prestigious National Fish and Chip Shop Awards 2019, it’s no secret that Krispies in Exmouth is a destination fish and chip shop, attracting customers well beyond a fish and chips shop’s usual radius. Run by husband and wife duo and a cherished crew, Tim and Kelly Barnes have worked frier by frier for nearly 19 years, honing down their skill in cooking the nation’s favourite takeaway dish to perfection.
Running a business with a model that specialises in serving one type of vegetable cooked in one way is a bold move and needs utter self-confidence and perfection to survive. It’s a dish that customers have dozens of benchmarks of which to compare. While the nation agrees that fish and chips are Britain’s most famous dish, regional differences are split when it comes down to how it is best enjoyed. Beyond the ingredients of potatoes and fish, comes layers of nostalgia and cultural heritage.
To rank the best fish and chips shop in the country, the National Fish and Chip Shop Awards tests contestants throughout an intensive eight-month judging period, which includes multiple mystery shop visits and a final presentation in front of a panel of industry experts.
At Krispies, customers part with the usual amount of money and leave with a meal in a cardboard box however there are subtle differences that set this fish and chip shop aside from the average high-street chippy.
For starters, you’ll notice exposed statement lightbulbs hanging down their shop windows, and their name emblazoned in lights across the back-wall. The modern interiors are clean and pleasing to the eye – a far cry from the ‘this’ll-do’ environment of the traditional chip shop. LCD screens behind the counter show slick videos of their cooking processes and work in the community.
Home to the unique battered chip, Krispies are renowned for coating chips in their light bespoke batter, before frying to give the crispiest outside which reveals the fluffiest centred chip. Investing in the latest fryer technology, the team are able to serve consistent batches each time, assured that each meal will be as perfect as the last.
It’s not just the chips that have been carefully considered, Krispies make their burgers in house, to their own recipe. Having uncovered a jewel in Assistant Manager Rob’s previous life as a butcher for 34 years, they worked together to create a caramelised onion and cracked black pepper burger recipe.
Sustainability is the cornerstone of the business and Tim and Kelly’s devotion to the marine environment remains unwavering. From Exmouth’s shoreline running through Krispies’ logo through to the recycled packaging used for each customer. Only responsibly sourced fish makes it through the doors and they strive to find interesting ways to talk to their customers about fish.
Kelly says: “We engage with young kids to encourage them to respect our oceans and sea life. We run marine-themed colouring-in competitions, quizzes and games. We sponsor regular beach cleans, which we participate in and encourage all ages to roll up their sleeves and get involved.”
To fully understand the process from dock to dish, Tim and Kelly have experienced deep water fishing in icy waters with Norway Seafood Council. Tim says, “In general I found the Norwegians passion for sustainability is inspiring, they literally have crystal clear blue waters and they know and understand that this environment must be respected and protected if it is to continue to host a thriving marine eco system for generations to come.”
This year, they will send Manager Darren Ashford-Kelly to Japan for an industry trip. Darren says, “Going to Japan is an honour and gives me the opportunity to be where I want to be on the frying side of my job. I have been told how hard and busy it will be, but the opportunity to show my skills to others in the industry and to represent a company I love, is massive.”
Keeping the team happy, satisfied in their jobs and able to progress in the industry is vital to Tim and Kelly, and staff development is plays a key part. They work in partnership with Exeter College to run a CMI management course, starting from Level 3 through to a Level 7 Bachelor’s Degree. They also offer a hospitality course up to Level 4; an advanced course for this industry.
As dining trends come and go; veganism is on the increase and casual dining restaurants see further closures, will Britain’s fish and chip shops stand the test of time? Kelly believes so. “Families will always want tasty, filling, nutritious meals to please everyone in a hurry. And our customers see a trip to a fish and chips shop as great value for money. Having said that, the industry has needed to evolve over the years. We have a moral obligation to ensure fish stocks thrive for future generations. At Krispies we’re fully prepared to roll up our sleeves to help shape a sustainable industry – we’ll do what it takes to support that vision.
“Also, there’s something magical about seafood on the coast that just works. Whether it’s to round off a day on the beach in summer, or enjoyed while bundled up in blankets in the car parked by the sea in winter – it’s no wonder fish and chips is the nation’s staple, and we can’t see that changing any time soon.”