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In the UK, we spend over £1.2 billion a week on food.
About £51 per household.
A bog-standard pint of milk now - 50 pence.
I can remember when milk was about ten pence a pint.
Faced with more choice than ever, how do you know
when you're getting value for money?
You've got granary. You've got wholemeal. You've got seeded.
There's even bread that tells you it's toastable. What bread isn't toastable?!
Gregg Wallace and greengrocer, Chris Bavin,
are out to find answers.
How much are carrots normally?
90p a kilo.
£3 a kilo.
To buy 'em chopped up.
When is it worth splashing the cash?
And when should you save your pennies?
Two large cod and chips, please. Lovely, look at that!
The boys are going to try and find out by creating two very
different plates of the classic British dish, fish and chips.
This is the way to catch a cod.
Got to do this for 4½ hours. Fantastic.
Along the way, they'll examine a whole range of everyday products.
-You are the first person who's picked the fresh out.
-Maybe I'm a broccoli genius.
Gregg's hunting for high-end ingredients...
It's about 30p a chip.
..And Chris, the low-cost alternative...
Ten million of these a day, they make.
..before the Great British public decide...
-Which fish comes out on top?
-You like the purple ones?
..whether you should save or spend when it comes to fish and chips
Those people of Hastings with a discerning palate
will tell the difference...I hope!
Gregg Wallace started out as a greengrocer in the 1980s
and adores working with fine food.
Lovely little leaves.
But he knows top ingredients don't come cheap.
I've been supplying to the best restaurants
and eating in those restaurants for over 20 years.
I know what quality tastes like.
I know how much it costs.
Greengrocer Chris Bavin has been voted the UK's top
independent retailer two years in a row and knows how to spot a bargain.
It's not about how much food costs but value for money.
I'm here to prove you can get a good, healthy, tasty meal for less.
Chris is a fine young man, a greengrocer like me,
but I'll introduce him to the finer things in life!
Now, now, Gregg.
On average, we spend over an hour a week in Britain's supermarkets -
that's over 215,280 minutes of your life
you'll never get back!
And the boys are beginning their research
into cheap versus expensive fish and chips
with their very own version of Supermarket Sweep.
Gregg, be a love and shove us the...
-The cheap one?
They're both looking
at typical ingredients for fish and chips to feed a family of four.
Quite a selection here.
Chris is hunting for a low-cost basket.
We've got cod in batter,
breaded. Fillets, that's me.
£4.49 for four.
And Gregg's after high-end ingredients.
I'm after the finest cod you've got.
It's line-caught. Day boats. Best piece of fish you can get.
Do you consider fresh to be better than frozen?
A lot more flavoursome. That over a frozen fish,
-there's no comparison.
Straight-cut oven chips.
I want a starchy potato.
Cyprus - perfect.
Something special to fry my chips - duck fat.
Vinegar. Trusted brand.
Twice the price, as per usual.
You look like a man who likes a bargain.
We ain't all millionaires, Gregg.
Time to check out.
Gregg's basket of the finest ingredients -
including fresh cod, fresh potatoes
and even a spot of duck fat would set you back £14.82.
Chris's economy basket,
including frozen cod and frozen chips, would cost just £8.04.
Let's compare these bills here.
Mine's nearly £15.
I'm a smidgeon over eight quid.
You're not far away from double. Everything on there
is more expensive by a considerable amount.
It's my fish.
My fish is nearly double the cost of your fish.
This is exactly the same bag of shopping.
You've given nearly double...
We haven't got exactly the same and that's the point.
If we had exactly the same, we'd have the same bills.
No-one ever said quality was cheap.
You're not telling me that by the time you cook this,
slather it in vinegar and red sauce, it's going to taste any different?
I honestly do not believe
you can get the same plate of food with your ingredients. No way.
Well, there's only one way to find out. It's time to separate the boys.
They'll each source the kind of ingredients they believe will
win over the British public in the final fish-and-chip taste test.
Will Gregg's premium produce live up to its price tag?
Or can Chris' cheaper alternative punch above its weight?
First task - find the right fish.
Chris is kicking off his search for great value produce
in the Norwegian fjords.
We left UK ten hours ago and here we are in Norway
and we haven't even got on a boat yet.
He's off to work on a factory ship that catches
and then freezes vast numbers of cod at sea.
Rather you than me, Chris.
We've got to the boat that will take us fishing for cod.
That looks more like the ferry I took to France when I was a kid.
Gregg's journey is a little less international.
He's hunting down expensive fish, in the British port of Brixham.
I'm in Devon. I'm going out with the fishermen. This is why I'm up at a ridiculous hour.
It's four o'clock and I'm going to see what goes into line-catching fresh fish.
This is small-scale artisan.
You never know what you'll get with fishing. It's like hunting.
This is why fresh fish can be expensive.
Why are we up so early?
Because of the amount of days we lose for weather,
and the cost of fuel nowadays,
we have to maximise our days
so we generally start fishing at first light
and fish through till dark.
The Full Monty can struggle to cover her costs.
Even on a good day she might only bring home 150 fish.
It seems you have to catch a lot of fish to make your living.
What are the costs?
A typical day for us
is somewhere in the region of 450 and 600lbs a day.
You have to catch that amount of fish
before we start earning a penny.
How much cod could this vessel catch?
Per day, we would catch
approximately 50 tonnes of H&G cod.
Where does the majority of that fish go?
Most of it, from the long liners,
goes to the UK market for fish and chips.
Every year, we Brits eat
300 million portions of fish and chips - greedy bunch -
and most of that's made from cod.
Fresh British cod can't meet our demand,
so we import industrial-caught fish from sustainable sources
abroad to fill the gap.
-This part of the process is baiting the hooks.
So everything is caught on a hook, nothing is caught with a net?
No, everything is on the hook. The fish choose to bite the hook.
-OK, or not.
-So now we're firing out the hooks.
50,000 hooks out there.
Every hook must be individually baited with small herrings.
-Could take a while.
-You can see now he's ready with the anchor.
And now the process starts. It doesn't stop.
Mass-caught cod can help keep your average high-street
fish and chips affordable.
Line-catching, as opposed to trawling with nets,
is a more selective method of fishing, meaning, in theory,
only certain species of fish are caught
and other delicate fish stocks are preserved.
So this is the very first part of the process.
How long will we stay here for, to do this?
It's 45,000, 50,000 hooks,
we will use about 4½ hours.
So 4½ hours, we do this? Yes? Nonstop?
No breaks. I've got to do this for 4½ hours? Fantastic. OK.
It's starting to get a bit choppy around here, I think.
Filthy, dirty, stinking of fish, exhausted.
I bet wherever Gregg is, he's not doing this.
Oh, it's as if you're telepathic, Chris(!)
I can see them coming.
Look at that. That's a beautiful thing.
Whoa, that is a beauty.
-That's not bad, is it?
So what do you think of your fish compared to the Norwegian?
Erm, it's OK.
But it's not fresh and from on your doorstep, is it?
You can't beat fresh.
It's caught by hand, straight on the boat, it's gutted, it's washed
and packed in ice and landed that night.
You can't get any fresher than that.
Now, the pressure's on. Can Gregg land himself a big one?
If I don't get a cod, I'm going to be a laughing stock, aren't I?
Whoa, look here, Chris, this is the way to catch cod.
Well done, Gregg.
Whoa, look at him.
Fish like this are normally served up to some lucky diner
within 48 hours of being caught.
Back in Norway, after several hours' fishing,
it's time to haul in the line.
You can see there is a fish on the first hook.
-The fish are starting to come out now. One after the other.
There's another one. That's a perfect size.
Look, now we're going to get the fish. Look at the size of the fish.
In one trip, this vessel can hook up to 160,000 fish.
She can be at sea for five weeks at a time
so it's vital the catch is frozen at minus 20 degrees within a few hours.
So now you're going to fillet this cod for us?
-That's beautiful and white inside, isn't it?
This is literally what is going to be frozen
and then be served up in chip shops all over the UK within a week or so?
So here we are, after 14 hours at sea,
we've got beautiful, fresh cod.
This was swimming in the ocean only three hours ago.
You can't tell me that anyone is eating any fresher than this cod.
So it's definitely fresh when it gets frozen!
These guys can be out here for 40 days and 40 nights.
Next time you're in fish-and-chip shop on a Friday night,
have a little thought for these guys. They work incredibly hard.
Back in the UK, and after a long day at sea,
Gregg too is heading back to port with his whopper.
I know that's how you earn a living, but I've had a great day.
-Glad to meet you, mate.
-See you again, hopefully.
That was great.
So in one fishing trip, they've achieved very different results.
Chris and his Norwegian chums reeled in 5,700 fish
and Gregg helped hand-catch 100 fish.
With the big public fish-and-chip taste test just days away,
both boys are off the mark.
Gregg's found the kind of fish he wants to serve,
British, fresh and rod-and-line caught.
And Chris has found a lower cost, quick-frozen-at-sea alternative,
although I'm not sure he'd do it again.
Whilst Gregg and Chris are focusing
on their upcoming fish-and-chip final taste-off,
we've drafted in some helpers to see
whether you should spend or save
when it comes to another cod classic.
Fish fingers are a big favourite
because it comes with fish fingers, chips, beans. Yeah, great.
Easy for us, easy to cook, easy to serve. Kids love them.
In Britain, we eat over one million fish fingers a day,
so we've put three brands to the test.
And who better to judge them than 15 hungry kids
from Handsworth Primary School in East London.
If they don't like it, they're very quick to tell me, don't worry!
The fish fingers on test today have between 60 and 64% fish content,
but they do vary massively in cost.
On the yellow table, ASDA's fish fingers. 47p per 100 grams -
the cheapest in this blind taste test.
On the green table, Sainsbury's, the second cheapest at 64p.
On the red table, Marks & Spencer's Chunky, the dearest at 73p.
And that's where our experts are starting.
The fish tasted a bit slimy.
Three letters - OMG!
A portion of breadcrumbed fish fingers contains half
the fat of a battered fish portion.
Just as well, the rate this lot are going through them.
Next up, ASDA, the cheapest option.
It was really, really squishy.
The inside of it, it tasted a bit like paper.
The outside was...
..quite crumbly as well.
I don't like it. I love it!
# We are young
# We run green
# Keep our teeth nice and clean... #
This one was the best one.
I really liked this one.
It was very chewy on the inside.
It was more attractive than the others
because it was chewier and I like the crispy bits.
Eating over, it's voting time for these budding food connoisseurs.
Put the cost by the one you want, but only do one.
# Whatever you do... #
One vote equals one point.
-The red fish fingers got...
-The yellow fish fingers got...
And the green fish fingers got...
Nine points, which makes green the winner!
# All right! #
So it's the mid-priced fish finger from Sainsbury's that leads the way
in this blind taste test,
with Marks & Spencer's and ASDA joint second.
Good news for Chris and his value hunt.
And good news for your pocket.
It might not be totally scientific,
but Handsworth Primary have spoken.
OK, that's enough about fish for now.
We've plenty more to tickle your taste buds!
Can we borrow you for a moment to do a quick taste test?
Can you, the Great British public,
taste the difference between economy and the higher-priced alternatives?
Time to put another family favourite to the test - sausage rolls.
Over to you, Chris.
Excuse me, could I borrow one of you for ten seconds?
On test are Morrisons' Savers sausage rolls at 23p for 100 grams,
and Morrisons' Standard, at nearly twice the price.
Both packs have a meat content of below 30%.
Right, young lady, if you could taste these two sausage rolls
-and tell me which one you prefer, please?
If you could taste them both and let me know which one you prefer?
Same time, or one after another?
One after the other. Unless your palate is good at deciphering taste.
You can chuck them both in if you want.
-Oh, yeah? Clearly not for you then.
I think with one of them, you might be all right, to be honest.
The economy snacks are on the white napkin
and the more expensive version on red.
-Probably that one.
-You prefer that one?
-You prefer that one?
-You prefer that one?
-Hits the tongue straightaway.
-I like that one better.
-So you've chosen the cheaper option, which is,
you might be surprised to know, nearly half the price of the premium.
-You've chosen the more expensive.
It's just under twice the price of that one.
Would that change your decision?
-I'd definitely go for that one.
-If it's cheaper...?
-The cheaper one.
That's actually the cheaper option,
and it's just under half the price of the more expensive one.
If that's half the price, I'd definitely go for that one rather than that one,
-because I could put my own herbs on that if I wanted to, couldn't I?
-There you go, bit of sauce!
That taste test result, that was fantastic.
The majority of people favouring the cheaper product.
That just goes to show,
it isn't always about the most expensive product being superior.
So, maybe, the cheaper option will do well in your
fish-and-chip fight then, Chris?
Back on the road, Gregg's hit a fish market, where the
whopper he reeled in yesterday is about to be auctioned.
Ten? 20? 20?
I followed my cod down to market to see how much money I'd get for it.
This, compared to the frozen, what do you honestly think?
This is second to none.
This is the best. The best in the world.
I wouldn't put a frozen bit of fish on my plate.
But then, I don't have to.
A little bit of boat-to-throat cod? Pick what you like.
We can do a bit of trade on that. It has good weight as well. 5.10?
Is that 5.10? 5.20, Harry?
I might be a dim greengrocer,
but I've got absolutely no idea what's going on.
They're just shouting out numbers and putting coloured stickers down.
But I have found my cod.
62 to buy Bowditch, at 60? 60, 70?
£7, what about it? 7.10?
Not much cod here today. 7.10?
Four kilos, it's a good weight, Harry.
Quite a little bidding war going on there for my fish.
Yeah, there was.
There's not many cod around, to be honest, today.
I'll buy that. I'll take it back to Taunton, cos we all crept up
and, by the end of today, six o'clock, that will
go Michelin-starred restaurant in Chagford.
My cod got good money, didn't it?
I think it was £7 a kilo.
-So, I think that fish was a four kilo fish?
So we're talking £28 just for that one fish.
That fish will end up on a plate tonight.
I landed it yesterday afternoon.
That's what you're paying for.
You can't get better than that. There is no way around it.
That's the top of the game.
In less than 24 hours, Gregg's catch has been sold
and will be on a restaurant plate this evening.
I've had a lovely time. Landing the fish
and then watching this go through auction today has been great.
Luckily, for me and the fish, there wasn't a lot of cod here today
and the price actually got £7 a kilo.
That makes my fish nearly 30 quid and I know where it's going!
And that just gives me an enormous sense of well-being.
At £28, or seven quid a portion,
this catch is a bit pricey for your local chippy
and is actually heading for a Michelin-starred restaurant.
Well, I say lucky...
Are your hands nice and clean?
Now, there's more to fish and chips than just a chunk of cod,
meaning there's plenty more products
you might be able to save your pennies on.
The boys are back together to look at the king of condiments.
We'll both have a go at making ketchup, is that right?
You've used tinned tomatoes, I've got fresh tomatoes.
Do you need to buy pricey ingredients to make a decent ketchup?
So, it'll be interesting to see
if we can do anything that compares with the big brands.
Gregg and Chris will be pitting their creations
against the big boy brands in the second of our taste tests,
using Hastings Amateur Rowing Club as guinea pigs.
You lucky chaps.
Right, are you going to start with an onion?
That's probably the best place to start, isn't it, I'd imagine?
You're always taking the cheapest and easiest route out
and I'm always trying to get hold of the best ingredients I can.
That's not fair. I don't always look for the cheapest,
I look for the value for money.
You know, can you eat the same for less?
It's not always paying more
definitely assures you the best quality.
How are you getting on with your kilo of baby tomatoes?
Yeah. This is going to take for ever.
So, come on, Gregg. Tell me, what is in your pot of tomato sauce?
Onions, sweated down, vegetable oil, ginger.
Then fresh tomatoes on the top of that, a little bit of white
wine vinegar, plenty of pepper, salt and, now, I'm adding brown sugar.
-And that, I am ready to go. I'm ready to strain this now.
So, what's in your everyman, everyday, cheap-as-you-like ketchup?
Well, I thought I'd go really avant-garde with it,
really push the boat out and go wild,
so it's predominantly tomatoes, with some onion.
For any budding mathematicians out there,
you'll not be surprised to know that
Gregg's ingredients cost more.
A lot more.
Right, who's going to win?
I've got a funny feeling that people don't want you to be too
clever with your tomato sauce.
So, I've got a sneaky suspicion I might win it.
You've got no chance at all.
I don't know if it's you or the sauce,
but there's some aromas coming up which are...
somewhat slightly unfamiliar to me.
Touche, well done. Ba-dum-tsh!
I don't know what Gregg's playing at.
He's got ginger in there, he's got white wine vinegar,
he's got all sorts of different bits and pieces. Cloves.
Basically, he's just clearing out cupboards and chucking everything in.
I may have gone a little bit over the top with the cost,
but, those people of Hastings with a discerning palate will be
able to tell the difference. I hope.
-There you go.
-There we go.
Done! Let's get down to Hastings
and have a look and see what the public think.
-They don't look that dissimilar, do they?
-Let's find out, shall we?
Time for Hastings' rowers to put down their oars
and pick up a chip to dip in a range of sauces.
There are over 20 brands of ketchup available in supermarkets
already, including Kania from Lidls,
the cheapest on test today at just 12p per 100 gram,
Waitrose Essential, 21p,
Daddies, costing 27p
market leader, Heinz, 38p,
Chris's ketchup, which comes in more expensive at 56p,
and, finally, Gregg's,
costing a huge 89p per 100 gram.
Once again, it's a blind taste test.
These fitness fanatics have no idea which sauce is which.
That's really tomato-y.
Ooh, no, I'm not sure about that.
That's really nice.
I prefer that out of all of them.
How you doing, guys?
-You've had plenty of chips?
You are now, I suppose, ketchup connoisseurs.
-We definitely are.
-We are indeed, yes.
So, can you put as out of our misery and let us
know which was your favourite?
After much deliberation, the one that came out number one was...
Who'd have thought it? Gregg's home-made sauce takes the honours.
You're joking. Here we go. How was that? How was that? Why?
It was something different. It wasn't generic.
-The texture was nice as well.
-Yeah, really nice.
-It just had a bit of spice to it.
It was a little bit of a kick, a bit different from the regular
sort of ketchup you find in your chip shop.
OK, let's assume you don't have a second mortgage
to spend on Gregg's ketchup.
How did the more reasonably priced options compare?
What was number two, then? What was the second?
Number two was...
Oh! So, that's very interesting.
That is, in fact, the cheapest out of all of the sauces today.
-Where's that one from?
-That's from Lidl.
That is interesting.
-The sauce that came first was more expensive
than the sauce that came second place,
so I definitely would choose the second-place sauce.
So, I'm loath to ask, what came in at last place?
I think the one that came in last was...
Wow, OK. What was it you didn't like about my mate's?
It was a bit bland.
-A bit watery.
-It didn't have any sort of kick to it.
Was it too tomato-y for you? Was that the problem?
It wasn't tomato-y enough.
Well, obviously, the good burghers of Hastings
have got excellent taste.
So, other than Gregg's super sauce,
cheaper wins out in this taste test.
Lidl, the cheapest ketchup, was best of the rest.
Daddies came third,
Britain's top-selling brand only managed fourth,
Waitrose Essentials came fifth and, bottom of the pile,
was Chris's woeful attempt at ketchup.
So, the conclusion, home-made is best.
Except when it's the worst.
What if you never buy ketchup, I hear you say? Well, fear not.
Look along your supermarket shelves.
There are hundreds of condiments
that might benefit from closer inspection.
Take tartare sauce, a heady mix of mayo, gherkins and capers,
but not all tartares are equal.
For example, these three jars vary massively in price.
100 grams will cost you anything from 46p for an own brand
to 50p for a market leader
and £1.50 for a top end condiment.
On closer inspection, there are some differences in the kind
of ingredients, but does that mean it's worth spending the extra money?
Later, the British public will decide whose version
of fish and chips is tastier,
so the boys are back on the hunt for ingredients.
They've found their fish, now for the chips.
With the final taste test looming,
Gregg's called on Michelin-starred chef Tom Kerridge,
an expert in high-end and high-priced chips.
Feel free to steal any tips and use them at home.
Tom, the reason I've come to you
is that I want to find out what
makes the perfect, and I mean
-the perfect, chip.
Step one, choose the right fresh potato.
Tom's got three varieties to cook for Gregg's test today
and they all cost roughly the same.
OK, what we've got is some basic reds, we've got
a Rooster potato, which is very similar to a Maris.
This is going to be the best one for chips.
We've got these ones here, which is your normal baking potatoes
that you would find from your supermarket.
This, for a chip, will be rubbish.
A baking potato has a lot of moisture in it.
Even when it's fried, it's still watery,
which stops the outside getting crispy and golden.
Start off with your normal baking potatoes.
Each single chip we cut out with an apple corer.
Five sacks of these a day, the boys do. All the same size.
That's not a chip, that's a small fondant!
So, this one, red potatoes, a little bit more floury.
These are the Roosters and these are the super bad boys,
the ones that are going to be the best.
Tom reckons fresh Rooster or Maris is best for chips,
because it contains less water.
Yes, even Michelin-starred chefs use everyday spuds.
Is that a portion, do you reckon?
That's about a portion, yeah.
How much is a portion of Tom's Michelin-starred chip?
-It's about 30p a chip.
Yeah, probably. Round about that.
So, how do you get the moisture out of a spud?
We're going to cook it three times.
The first two times are erase moisture.
First time, we'll blanch them in boiling water.
Anything between ten and 20 minutes.
Although you're putting it into a moisture environment,
what it is actually doing it is cooking it
and the moisture is coming out of the potato.
Then we're going to leave them on a tray so they steam dry.
We'll keep all three separate, so we know which one is which.
These will take about 15 minutes.
What we've got here is a bag of spuds.
I mean, there's no cost at all, is there?
-The expense here is your time and expertise.
It's time, it's man hours.
Those are the things that make it a more expensive product.
With his eye, as ever, on the final taste test,
Gregg decides to check out the cheaper competition.
Right, there's them, but there's also some oven chips.
-Can we put these in the oven?
-Of course we can.
-What will you do if they turn out crispy and lovely?
Chef Kerridge's next step to create the perfect chip
is the double fry and the fat matters too.
He always fries in duck fat for added flavour.
This probably is on 140.
Then we're going to slowly let the bubbles come out.
So these have been in here for about ten minutes.
Bung them into here.
These are rested for a further ten minutes,
and then plunged back into the oil at 180 degrees.
This gives the chips their crunch.
Supermarket bakers, we've got the reds,
and these are the super bad boys.
Like pebbles, weren't it?
Now they are out, the roosters
-actually, undoubtedly, look the best.
They're the best even colouring. They are toasty.
The others look wrong.
-There we have crinkle cut oven chips.
-There we go.
I'm hoping that my staff
will definitely be able to tell the difference.
So, Tom's staff must spot the boss' preferred chip.
Ever get the feeling your job's on the line?
Crunchy on the outside, soft on the inside.
Better than the last one.
You liked Chef's chip the best.
-Well done, son.
How was that?
It's a bit softer inside.
It's got a nicer flavour on the outside, I think.
-Chef will be chuffed.
-You liked his best.
All five of Tom's staff then keep their jobs,
choosing his triple-cooked Rooster chip.
And, in this blind taste test, it seems you get what you pay for.
It goes to show that cooking method can result in a great chip.
Not from a frozen packet, into a tray and in the oven.
-I find a bit of comfort in that, don't you?
Gregg will be serving fresh triple-cooked chips
fried in duck fat in the final taste-off.
-I'm going to get out of your hair.
-Cheers, Gregg, take care.
Chris, meanwhile is back hunting for cheaper alternatives
in the world of mass production.
I know there's mums and dads up and down the country,
that need something, cost-effective, quick and tasty
to feed their little ones on a regular basis,
which is why I'm here at a chip factory in Norfolk.
Inside, muddy potatoes are transformed into around ten million
oven-ready chips, every single day.
What we have done is we have peeled the potatoes.
Do you use steam to peel them?
You literally blast the skin off with steam?
Over three billion meals a year in Britain are eaten with chips.
Two thirds of which, we buy frozen.
Mass freezing techniques have come a long way in recent years
and it's not just chips.
We eat about 500 million pounds' worth
of frozen fruit and veg every year.
They didn't look like this a minute ago.
-No, what we have done now is we've cut the potatoes into chips.
What we do is we fire the potato, effectively a metal tennis racket.
-It cuts it into little strips.
-What's this, Simon?
-Well, this is our top-secret coating.
-I can't really tell you what's in it.
-It looks like burger sauce.
It's not that, but needless to say, it's all natural ingredients.
Fascinating fact time.
Oven chips often get their crunch by being coated
in a flour and milk batter.
-So what's happening here?
-These chips have been cooked three times.
Three times now.
Now they've gone through a dryer and two fryers.
What is pretty much the finished product.
-Could I eat one of these?
-Well, they're not fully cooked, but you certainly could.
Yeah, not far off, is it?
They need a final cook at home
but they're pretty much the finished article.
There we go. Frozen chips.
They have been cut, cooked and frozen.
And frozen, and now we send them off to be packed.
That's fascinating in there.
These guys are taking this
and turning it into this within an hour-and-a-half.
Ten million of these a day they're making.
Who needs a Michelin-star restaurant, Gregg,
you can eat these in your own home.
Chris has been sold on oven chips
and will be serving them in the final taste-off.
They are not only cheaper than their deep-fried rivals,
they are also a healthier option, although it's always worth
checking the pack to find the lowest fat chips.
Especially, if you're on a diet.
And speaking of diets, anyone on one stop listening now.
A 400 gram portion of chips from your local shop contains
Today, the boys are wolfing down
a measly 25 gram handful of their chosen chip
to see how long it takes to burn off those calories.
Good luck, Gregg!
It looks a fair old way round, doesn't it?
Oh, look at this, this is a lot steeper than I thought.
-Have you been on a bike recently?
-Not for a long, long time.
No, nor me.
How many circuits of a South London velodrome will it take for Gregg
and Chris to burn off a handful of their chosen chips?
Viewers of a nervous disposition might like to look away now.
Come on, Gregg, what are you playing at?
-Oh, oh, oh, look at you.
-I don't really look like a cyclist, do I?
I'm not sure fluorescent green is your colour.
This is steeper than it looks, isn't it?
It scarily steep to be honest, mate.
Trying to burn the calories off, your triple-cooked gourmet chips.
How many laps is it going to take to burn them off?
You might be here longer than me, I think, my oven chips.
Are you going to be all right on that, do you need stabilisers?
-Do you know what, I feel nervous.
-You should be in that top, an' all.
-Are you ready to go?
-I think I am, yeah.
-I thought that was going to be the toughest bit.
Moaning after 17 metres? Really, Gregg!
That's one lap successfully completed.
How long do you reckon they are going to have us out here?
We are going to be here all day. To burn off 25 grams' worth of chips.
I've got a feeling I must almost be there, you know.
After 1,100 metres, Chris has burnt off the calories from his oven chips.
But, for Gregg, the end is not in sight.
You're on your own, Gregg.
-I'm on me own.
So I did 3.5 minutes out there which is just short of three laps.
Gregg is still going. I've got a feeling he might be out there for quite some time.
I think he must be regretting his lovely all-singing,
all-dancing, triple-cooked, super-duper, duck fat chips.
Whereas, my oven chips, you pay less for them in the beginning
and you pay less for them afterwards. It's a simple choice for me.
Give me an oven chip!
-You've had to do a few more than me, haven't you?
-Is that you are done.
That's the hardest bowl of chips I've ever ridden.
There you go. Your triple-cooked duck fat chips
have got more than one cost, haven't they?
-How long did you do?
-I was only 3.5 minutes, I was out there.
-Eight minutes, I did.
-Eight minutes for 25 grams of chips.
-That's nearly three times, isn't it?
You've got to question whether it's worth it, haven't you?
And you've paid more for them in the first place.
So if you've got half an hour to ride off your lunch,
then by all means have some triple-cooked chips.
If not, maybe turn your oven on.
Seeing as we are here, do you fancy another couple of laps around?
-Come on. When in Rome, let's go.
The boys need to get off their bikes and back on the road.
Soon they will be serving up their version of fish and chips to see
whether it's worth paying more for this classic British dish.
So far, Gregg's fished the Devonshire coastline
and hand caught a fresh cod.
Oh! Look at him!
The kind that sell for top dollar to top restaurants,
less than 24 hours after landing.
-I think it was seven pounds a kilo.
-Oh, seven pounds a kilo.
That makes my fish nearly 30 quid and I know where it's going.
Chris braved the Norwegian seas on an industrial factory ship
which catches and quick-freezes thousands of fish daily.
This was swimming in the ocean only three hours ago.
Spot the big difference? One fresh fish, one quick-frozen.
And it's not just fish and chips you can buy in the frozen aisle.
Nowadays you can freeze pretty much anything.
So does fresh produce always taste better than frozen?
Excuse me, I like your dog and I need your help.
Gregg certainly seems to think so
and with an eye on the final taste test,
he's hit the streets for a spot of market research.
-Does Mum eat her greens?
Mum, I've got two bowls of broccoli, it's all I've got.
I want you to taste them and tell me which one you like the most.
On the white napkin is frozen broccoli
and on the red napkin is fresh, which costs nearly twice as much.
-I think that one.
-The one on the white napkin?
-The one on the white napkin?
Erm, yeah, this one.
-If push came to shove, that one.
-You prefer the one on the white napkin?
The white one is frozen vegetables
-and the one on the red is fresh.
Interestingly, the one you like is frozen and the other one is fresh.
-Fresh is supposed to be nicer
but I can't tell the difference with those.
Do you know what? Neither can anybody else.
The first one tastes very slightly more tasty than that second one.
You are the first person to pick the fresh out.
-Maybe I'm a bit of a broccoli genius!
-You are a broccoli expert.
-The frozen one is half the price of the fresh one.
-Does that not surprise you?
-It does, yeah.
-You would think that would be more tasty.
-Would you buy frozen veg?
Erm, usually I don't buy it because I don't like the taste of it.
But, maybe now I will.
I'm absolutely amazed by the outcome of the broccoli test.
Virtually everybody picked the frozen one as their favourite.
The only difference, as I could see, really,
was the more vivid colour on the fresh.
Everybody liked the frozen.
Bad luck, Gregg, it seems the Great British public
think lower cost produce can taste great.
-Get your broccoli. Get your broccoli. It's lovely.
So with broccoli, we couldn't really taste the difference, but why not?
Time for a science lesson. What happens when you freeze food
and how does it affect the final taste?
This clever lady in the lab coat has been examining samples of fresh
and frozen cod.
Right, what are we looking at here?
What we have got here are some thin slices taken through fresh cod
-and cod that has been quickly frozen.
-What are we looking for?
What's good, what's bad?
What happens when you freeze the fish is that the water forms ice
and if you do it slowly,
then it forms really large ice crystals,
which then when you thaw it out and batter it
and put it into a deep fat fryer, the fish can be tougher
because it hasn't got all the water that was there in that fresh fish.
-So it dehydrates it?
-It dehydrates it.
If you freeze it quickly, when you've just caught it,
say out in the sea, and you keep it well frozen,
then the ice crystals are smaller and, effectively,
when you thaw it out, deep fry it, it can take the water back up again.
Under a microscope, Gregg's fresh cod looks best
as Chris's fish is full of ice particles.
But Chris's regains most of its quality
once it's defrosted and cooked. Got that, boys?
If it's freshly caught, goes into a blast freezer quickly frozen,
than the quality can be just as good as a fresh fish.
Hang on a minute.
We're talking about freezing this as well as we can
-so it mostly resembles a fresh fish?
But, of course, we are all agreeing
that the fresh fish is what we should be aiming at?
It is if you can catch it and eat it within 12 hours of catching it.
The longer it is out of the water, it's deteriorating,
whereas the freezing process will stop that breakdown.
You believe that fish very quickly frozen
could possibly be as good as fresh?
Yes, I think so.
So for shoppers like me, the message you say is quite clear.
Frozen fish from the shop can be quality
but there is no way you can tell on the box...
-How long it's been in the freezer.
-Or, how quickly they froze it.
At least with a fresh fish you know it's fresh.
I mean, we're not saying there is a huge difference
between fresh and frozen, as long as the frozen
-is frozen quick enough.
You don't need to feel bad about buying frozen fish,
as long as the fish is frozen quickly.
I've had that scientist's point of view,
it is a little bit controversial. I'm not sure that I agree.
What I would really like is to get the British public's point of view
on fresh over frozen cod.
Almost sounds like you're getting a bit nervous, Gregg.
The boys will get to test their expensive fresh
and cheaper frozen fish very soon.
But, before that, I think it's time for one final mini taste test.
Fried, baked, cheap or expensive,
no matter what sort of fish-and-chips take your fancy,
people up and down the country love to dowse them in vinegar.
Even polo players in Surrey.
And, deep in the countryside, these equine lovers have dismounted
to put five popular vinegars to the test.
Well, I say "popular".
We have thrown in a few curveballs
to see what this lots' refined palates make of them.
I think fish and chips is not really fish and chips without vinegar.
They are made to be together.
So let's start with what most of us buy, malt vinegar.
ASDA Smart Price is the cheapest in our test,
followed by market leader Sarson's,
then we leave malt and get a bit posh with Maille's cider vinegar.
Before moving a little left-field with El Majuelo Macetilla,
a sherry vinegar.
And, finally, Belazu Balsamic, you might like to save up for this one.
To be a balsamic, it must come from Modena in Italy.
I bet you didn't know that!
So, will our polo players plump for the pricey products,
or value vinegars?
It's really good, that one.
That one is good.
That's proper vinegar.
That one is terrible.
A, I found was very watery
and just soaked up the chips into making them quite a soggy mess.
-It tastes like cider that's gone off.
This one's nice and sweet and I like sweet things
so it worked quite well for me.
Time to reveal the winner.
-They've chosen the priciest vinegar, Belazu Balsamic,
at a huge £5.20 per 100 millilitres.
I've had cheaper wine than that.
It's quite bad that from the polo players
we were the ones that chose the most expensive one.
I'm quite surprised the balsamic vinegar came first because
well, to be honest, it just wasn't a thought that popped up
that it would be. You thought it would be more regular ones
like the Sarson's ones.
So balsamic wins but how did the malts compare?
The cheaper vinegars, you couldn't tell the difference between the malts
of the ASDA one that was very basic and the more expensive one.
There you have it.
Behind the expensive balsamic was Maille cider in second place.
Third was the first of the malts
and the cheapest offering, ASDA Smart Price.
Fourth, Sarson's malt
and in fifth place, El Majuelo.
But, remember, if you are sticking to malt vinegars,
maybe you don't need to pay those extra pennies.
And whilst we are looking for ways to save,
you might like to investigate vinegar's partner in crime, salt.
Take these two brands of table salt.
100 grams will set you back 6p for a low-cost option
and 12p for a well-known brand.
If you want to get posh,
then a pure sea salt of version will set you back £1.94.
Now, sea salt is totally natural
and not processed, unlike table salt.
But, considering all salt is mostly made up of, well, salt,
can you taste the difference?
Back on the road, there is one last crucial element to finding
Gregg's search for the very best fish and chips - batter.
If you want the very best batter,
you could do worse than calling on another top chef, Tim Hughes.
-I want a recipe for battered cod.
-I want the batter.
-Quality beer batter. Sure. I'll show you it.
-Lovely and crispy. So, we use lager, or you can use a bitter.
-But why beer?
Because there's already yeast inside the beer, so it's active,
-so it makes it crispy.
-We use self-raising flour.
-Make it even lighter and fluffy?
This batter you can make it, literally, in one minute,
rest it for about three minutes and then off you go and you cook.
-Is that it?
-Yeah, so pour the beer in the bowl.
-If Chris was here now, he'd have his head in that bowl.
-Yeah, pour in the flour.
-Just whisk until the lumps are gone.
Yeah, whisk until the lumps are gone.
-It's the right consistency.
Put a pinch of cayenne for the devilness.
Just a splash of soya, only a splash.
It gives the colour when the fish are frying,
it gives a slightly golden colour. And there's...
-There's the batter.
-That is easy and has cost nothing.
Well, it's the cost of the beer.
Do you know what, I would've thought that the bubbles in lager
would have helped to keep the batter light
-but that's not it.
-It's the yeast.
Well, even I could make that!
See, that's great. That is quality.
I don't know what Chris has got in mind
-but it's not going to be that.
Chris is looking for batter but there's not a drop of beer in sight.
-Hello, mate, how are you doing?
-Hello, Chris. How are you?
-I'm all right, mate.
I'm just here to pick your brains about batter, if I can.
-Yeah, come around. Brilliant.
-Thank you very much.
He's come to his local chippy to find the low-cost alternative.
So in a beautiful Great British traditional fish-and-chip shop,
how do you make your batter?
-We just buy pre-packaged batter like this one.
-OK. What is in this?
We've got wheat flour, raising agents, soya flour.
-It's pretty much just flour, is it?
-It's just wheat flour, yeah.
-Can I have a go at making some?
-Yeah, sure. Get some water.
-This is just tap water, is it?
-Yeah, just fresh tap water, yeah.
I know my colleague, Gregg, would probably want us to use
the finest spring water. How am I getting on here?
-Keep going, yeah. Lovely job.
-How do you know when done?
-It just runs off the whisk. That's lovely.
-Like this, this is all right, is it?
-That's fine, yeah.
Now for the bad news.
A battered cod contains about 11 grams of fat, that's nearly
a tablespoon of butter
but that might not be as bad as it used to be.
Am I wrong in thinking that batter over the years has got thinner.
I remember when I was at kid, it used to be thick,
almost thicker than the fish?
Probably as independent shops there is more competition,
like McDonald's, Pizza Express, that kind of thing.
We've got to be more on our game so the quality has got to be better.
So the thinner the batter, it retains less oil, so it's healthier.
-The fish is crispy and less fat flavoured, so it tastes better.
Presumably the batter goes much further by being thinner,
-so represents good value?
-That'll do for me.
So the cost of fish, is that going up at the minute?
Not really, it's sort of stable, maybe it's coming down a fraction.
-It's actually come down, has it?
-A little bit, yes.
I went out to Norway and I was on one of these huge, great boats.
They are out there, line-catching,
tonnes and tonnes of these fish to get the cost down. So, it's working.
Definitely, yeah. Definitely.
So this chip shop owner thinks large-scale fishing abroad
is helping keep cod affordable.
One in the eye for Gregg and Chris has found a low-cost batter to boot.
The time has finally arrived.
Fitting end to the journey, I feel.
The boys are back in a very windy Hastings
for the final public taste test.
Nice little town, the people will have good palates.
Obviously appreciate the finer things.
Be interesting to see, I don't think you're going to impress
anybody with your posh fish and chips round here, to be honest, Gregg.
After trawling the UK and Europe for the finest ingredients
and cheaper alternatives, it's now down to the British public to decide
whose food tastes better and whether it's worth paying that bit more.
Ladies and gentleman, lovely to be joining you here in Hastings,
a wonderful town and we've got something wonderful for you,
something I know you're going to enjoy.
-We've got fish and chips for you.
-Today, they've got a choice.
Gregg's expensive British hand-caught cod in beer batter,
served with triple-cooked chips and fried in duck fat.
The ingredients alone cost £2.93.
Or Chris's frozen-at-sea Norwegian cod, and the humble
but much healthier oven chip.
Almost half the price at just £1.83.
I'm confident you're going to enjoy it because it's one of Britain's
most popular dishes. As you've all been brought up with it
you are undoubtedly fish-and-chip experts.
First of all, you're going to get two different types of chips.
There's no right or wrong. We just want to know which ones you prefer.
The public have no idea whose plate is whose.
Let's face it, Gregg's pricey plates should be streets ahead,
starting with his triple-cooked chips on the purple plate.
But can Chris pull off another economy coup
with his cheaper chips on the green plate?
Guys, you have the sort of physique that makes me
think you may have sunk one or two chips in your time.
-What did you think?
-I didn't really like those.
-As far as chips go.
-They were oven chips, weren't they?
-Definitely oven chips, yeah.
-They were oven chips?
-That's what they tasted like.
-How would you know?
Because they're softer in the middle, not as crispy on the outside.
-Did you like the purple ones?
So what is the purple ones that you liked?
I preferred the purple, the texture, the crispiness.
-They were more enjoyable to eat.
-Who preferred what?
-They were better.
-They were crunchier.
-What did you think of the green ones?
They just felt like I could go down to my supermarket,
buy them at the shop, put them in the oven.
If I was going out to a fish-and-chip shop and got that,
I would be a bit upset with it, to be honest.
-The green one reminded me of school dinners.
-In the '30s, sir?
The official results will come later
but after tasting two quality products, it already
looks like Gregg's chips are getting the thumbs up.
What did you make of that?
Well, I mean it looks like the purple plate is coming out on top.
These guys haven't voted yet
so it's all still to play for and I think the fish is the main one.
I mean, chips, OK. It's all about the fish for me
and I think if I can get this one, I'll be happy.
In some of the previous taste tests we've done, Joe Public preferred
the cheaper option, and now Chris is banking on his lower-cost
frozen fish tasting just as good as fresh.
So you just had the yellow and blue plates of fish.
-Which one did you prefer?
What was it about the blue that you preferred?
-It was a lot lighter and the fish was more moist.
The blue plate is Gregg's beer-battered hand-caught cod.
Chin up, Chris.
-And the yellow one.
-Which piece of fish came out on top for you?
-The fish was soft and the batter was crispy.
OK. And the yellow, what was wrong with the fish on the yellow plate?
The fish was drier on the yellow one.
The fish was drier on the yellow one.
Sir, excuse me, what did you think of the yellow plate?
To tell you the truth I wouldn't know the difference.
-Fair enough, fair enough.
-Yellow or blue?
-Blue, blue, blue, blue, blue.
The blue one tasted fishier. It was nicer.
Right, now you've all sampled the chips and the fish.
We need to collect the results. Form an orderly queue.
We know what you're like down here in Hastings, hooligans. Come on.
Now, madam, you had purple chips and green chips. Which did you prefer?
-Green chips. And the fish,
-you had blue and you had yellow?
-Right, one each, not a bad start.
-And blue fish.
-Blue fish. Righto.
-Chris, it's a whitewash, an absolute whitewash.
-And blue fish.
-Come on, don't let me down.
-And yellow fish.
-Are you kidding? Are you kidding?
Good girl, I knew you looked like you had good taste. Thank you very much.
It's not looking good for Chris's economy fish and chips.
-Purple and blue.
-Right. You're not running out of chalk, are you?
-I'm sweating here!
-Purple and blue.
-Purple and blue.
-Purple and yellow.
-Purple and yellow! Are you drinking, madam?
-Green and blue.
-Green and blue.
-Green and blue.
-Purple and blue again.
Purple and blue.
Don't need to be a mathematician, do you, to see what's gone on here?
That's conclusive, isn't it?
There were 50 of you that sat down so let me tell you what you liked.
46 people preferred mine.
What you actually ate and loved was triple-cooked duck fat chips.
And the alternative was your everyday frozen oven-cooked chips.
All right, now let me tell you about the cod. OK? Again, overwhelming.
44 out of 50 preferred my cod.
What you had there was line-caught British sea-fresh cod. All right?
So well done.
And the alternative was caught in the Barents Sea in Norway.
What is undoubtedly clear to us is that you obviously prefer
line-caught fresh British fish with old-fashioned fried chips.
-Well done, ladies and gentlemen.
-Hastings has spoken.
CHEERING AND APPLAUSE
The windswept locals have chosen the most expensive food today,
but would they have paid the extra money?
-You buy something cheap, it tastes cheap.
-You liked the cheaper one.
But I did like the cheaper one, I'm sorry. I liked the batter on the cheaper one.
I don't mind paying more, because it was more taste to it.
I'd always pay more for quality. You get what you pay for.
So that's what Hastings thinks.
But remember what we've seen. You can happily save
on all sorts of everyday items, like sausage rolls and frozen broccoli.
And this lot don't know how many laps Gregg had to cycle
to burn off those triple-cooked chips!
But when it comes to your Friday night fish and chips,
if you can afford to treat yourself,
then maybe you'll taste the difference.
I'm a bit sad, it's all come to an end. The journey's over.
It's been interesting, hasn't it?
I don't want to say, "I told you so, Chris,"
-but you got a lot to learn, son.
What it's shown is that people can actually taste the difference
in the more expensive. Whether they want to pay for the more expensive,
that's another question.
They said they would today. I don't think there's a right or wrong.
I think everything has its place.
I think the more expensive version has a place,
as does the cheaper, more standard fare.
Mate, if it's hot and it's steaming and it's got salt and vinegar,
it's kind of OK, isn't it?
Yeah, everybody, no matter what their opinion, has a real soft spot
for fish and chips. So, to show you I'm magnanimous in defeat,
Gregg, how about I treat you to a fish and chip supper?
No, no, no, no more fish and chips. How about a curry?
-I could go to a curry.
-An expensive curry?
-Well, if I'm paying, it'll have to be a cheap one.
-Come on. Come on.
Subtitles by Red Bee Media Ltd