Tom Kerridge and Cherry Healey celebrate our favourite takeaways. Tom learns what makes the best fish and chips and Cherry discovers the origins of our national dish.
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Us Brits love fast food.
We spend a staggering £6 billion on takeaway every single year
and we have more places serving it up than anywhere else in Europe.
Across this series, from curry to Chinese,
we'll be exploring our love affair with takeaway.
This week, we're looking at what makes fish and chips fantastic
and going behind the counters of Britain's top chippies...
Into the pan, skin side down.
..to discover their trade secrets.
-Lovely and crisp.
-Oh, yeah. Rock-hard.
We'll be uncovering the fascinating history behind our national dish.
So this country was built on chips?
OK, can we get another order, please?
And we're inviting three award-winning chippies to a contest...
As soon as you can, get them out.
Chuck them in there, chuck them in there.
..to find out who makes the best fish and chips.
We're celebrating the real food we eat and the people behind it.
-What can I get you?
-Fish and chips.
-Fish and chips.
Sprinkled with salt and vinegar and wrapped in paper,
Brits are in love with fish and chips.
To feed our passion the UK has over 10,000 chippies.
That's more than eight times the number of McDonald's.
So we've been searching the country
to find out what makes the best fish and chips.
Fast food has had a bad reputation
but I believe, with a little bit of care and attention to detail,
it can be brilliant.
-Salt and vinegar, darling?
So we've found three of the finest independent chippies
to take part in a contest.
Anything else? Mushy peas, curry sauce, gravy?
They're all award-winning, and they're all very different
but they each believe that their fish and chips are the best.
Ahead of the contest,
chef Tom Kerridge is in Yorkshire to meet the first chippy,
Papa's in Hull.
Every week, they served up to 2,000 portions of fish and chips.
That's 950 kilos of fish and two tonnes of potatoes.
Hello, George and Dino.
-How are we?
-Very well, thank you.
-Nice to meet you.
-Very well and very busy.
You have the official title in The Guinness Book Of World Records
as the largest fish and chip shop in the world.
-And so that includes 400 people in there
-and there's about another 400 queuing up.
Oh, my God. I've been to many a fish and chip shop
up and down the country, as you can tell, but this one,
I've never seen anything like this. So how did it all start?
We started cooking fish and chips as a family in 1966.
-That was my grandad.
We're the third generation.
Our dad's behind the pans today, cooking as well.
How you doing? You OK?
Which is the fish that you normally like to serve the best?
It's only haddock down here.
Really? Yeah, you can tell someone from down south,
when they come and order a piece of cod.
90% of the time...
99% of the time, it's haddock and chips.
The haddock is coated in batter made from a secret family recipe,
handed down to dad Sid from his father.
So how long have you been doing this, Sid?
I'm doing it for 33 years now.
You're the engine room, aren't you? You're the beating heart.
Exactly. It's his baby.
My passion is exactly the same how I start.
-After 33 years.
OK, how does it all work behind the scenes here?
On this side, we're cooking all of the fish.
On that side, we're cooking all of the chips.
-And is it oil?
-No, it's dripping.
And why do we use beef dripping here?
It gives you a great traditional Yorkshire fish and chip taste.
OK, so it's got another underlying flavour...
-So it feels very British, very Yorkshire.
Dino is a champion fish fryer.
So where did you win that award, and how long ago?
This was 2016, so this year.
In the National Fish And Chip Awards this year.
-Best male fish fryer?
-In England, yeah.
I want to be taught how to cook fish and chips
by the fish and chip master, by the head fryer.
Into the pan, skin side down, and we let go.
-Skin side down because it gives it more protection.
So as it's sitting there, it's cooking on the bottom.
Protection from the oil, and the fish isn't breaking up?
So when you've got ten pieces of fish in here,
you're making sure that none of those ten pieces of fish
-are actually sticking?
-Making sure that it cooks evenly.
-It has got some mad skills.
It does, a real technique.
On a busy day, Dino and his family
will be frying 200 pieces of haddock an hour.
Nice and crispy.
If you could just turn it the other way around, that's skin side up.
OK, so which way do you want it?
-There you go. That way.
-That way round?
And why do you want skin side at the bottom when it's in the rack?
Because all the crispy bits on the top, all of these,
you want them to be visible to the customer.
We put the crispy bits on the bottom,
the batter bits will all crumble off.
You'll break them off. So here you want texture,
you want taste, and you want everybody to visualise
-how wonderful that's going to be.
Thank you very much!
So I've just spent a couple of hours witnessing
one of the most incredible food services I think I've ever seen.
Fish and chips,
but on such a scale,
but a standard that's so incredibly high.
They're cooking great traditional fish and chips,
but they'll be up against two equally prestigious chippies
in our contest.
-How long on my cod, please?
Husband and wife Tim and Kelly
have been voted one of the top fish and chip shops in the south-west.
Thank you very much.
Krispies in Devon is a small seaside chippy,
and it's the second fish and chip shop taking part in our contest.
What sort of fish is the biggest seller here?
Yeah, over 95% of our fish is cod.
Is that because we're down south?
-It's a very regional thing.
-Yeah, very regional.
-From the Midlands down, it fades into cod.
Whereas you go past the Midlands and up, it goes into haddock.
Why is it called Krispies?
Well, our lightly battered chips. That's what we're known for.
They believe their trademark chips, fried in batter,
is what makes theirs the perfect fish and chips.
This is batter. So this is the secret batter.
Most batter is a simple mix of flour, water and baking powder.
Is there a difference between that batter and the fish batter?
-What is it that makes it orange?
There is... Yeah, the secret.
And then it's just pure back work.
OK. So potatoes, batter, broom handle.
And then we tip it in.
Like many top chippies, Tim double-fries his chips.
OK, so this has cooked it at a slightly lower temperature
for longer to soften them up.
As if, I suppose, you're steaming them,
or parboiling them.
Yeah, we cook them at 155 degrees.
Keeps them fluffy on the inside.
-So you get...
-You want to get right underneath them.
Get them moving.
After the first fry,
he finishes them off at a higher temperature
to make them nice and crisp.
If you have a soggy chip,
it's always because you're cooking at too low a temperature.
Friday in the sun.
The smell of sun cream in the air and fish and chips, can't beat it.
A classic piece of cod in batter.
It's the nation's favourite fried fish.
And those crispy chips are a real clever, original idea
but is that actually enough to win this contest?
Fish and chips - a symbol of our nation the world over
but just how British are they?
A clue lies in the Victorian-era streets of east London...
..described in Charles Dickens's Oliver Twist.
"In its filthy shops are exposed for sale
"huge bunches of second-hand silk handkerchiefs
"of all sizes and patterns.
"Confined as the limits of Feld Lane are, it has its barber,
"its coffee shop, its beer shop, and its fried-fish warehouse."
The owners of those warehouses
were Jewish immigrants from Eastern Europe.
This was probably typical of where all the Jewish people, you know, lived.
Historian and chef Denise Phillips' great-grandparents arrived in London
in the early 1900s, along with thousands of other Jews,
to escape persecution.
They'd just come over from Russia.
You'd want to bring with you the food that you are familiar with.
Pickled cucumbers, beetroot, herrings, smoked salmon.
-So fried fish is a Jewish traditional food?
It is when it's cold,
because we can't cook on the Sabbath.
So you cook on the Friday and have it Friday night.
This original-style fried fish was often coated in breadcrumbs.
Batter became more popular when fried fish took off commercially.
Denise, this is amazing.
What began as a humble immigrant dish
has become a national takeaway favourite.
A few miles away in Camden Town...
What have we got here?
..our final contestant, young dad Simon,
is bringing fish and chips right up to date.
We are new-school fish and chips.
-New-school fish and chips.
-No, not traditional. More so.
-What we're doing is taking a totally fresh look at it.
Simon trained in Michelin-star restaurants
before opening his chippy
and believes his gourmet approach
makes his the perfect fish and chips.
I was just looking at a dish that, I felt, hadn't really changed a huge amount.
Put a little modern spin on it.
Simon's experience as a classically trained chef inspires his recipes.
So you want me to put the fish in?
Yeah, nice pat down, as well.
He uses spices from around the world to add modern flavours.
Look at that. So it's gone from that white fish.
That is loads of flavour going in there.
Then into our egg wash,
which is just beaten egg and a little bit of milk.
-Then into our breadcrumbs.
So this is the Argentinian mix.
-What other mixes have you got?
We have Ethiopian Berber spice.
I just kind of look around the world and see what people, other cultures,
other countries are doing.
I mean, I have to say, Argentina and Ethiopia
are two of the last places I would ever think of going
for fish and chips!
So I'll pop this in here.
Simon's determined to modernise every aspect of fish and chips
to make his the best.
OK, so cardboard boxes, not wrapping paper?
It keeps it crisp. Really important.
If you wrap it up, it just sweats and it just goes to mush.
Simon's really enthusiastic
about taking fish and chips to the next level.
I suppose the big worry for me
is how will that stand up in the heat of the contest
against two fish and chip shops that are based on tradition?
Who would have thought that fish and chips could be so diverse?
I'm here in Brixham,
one of the largest fishing ports in Britain,
and one of the first modern trawlers was invented here
in the late 18th century.
And today over 100 boats still land their catch on its docks.
Where better to base our fish and chip contest?
We've set up three kitchens right here on the harbour-side.
Arriving from Krispies in Devon are Tim and Kelly.
Am I getting lost?
Dino, George and Sid have come from Papa's in Hull.
If you need any help, let me know.
Simon and his business partner Barry have travelled from Hook in London.
We've got red onion, lemons... We've got it all.
Over the course of one day,
chef Tom Kerridge will be judging them
on three different tasks
to test every aspect of their fast-food skills.
It's definitely going to be our time to shine.
And we'll do our best. As always.
I'm itching to get behind the pans
and start cooking some great fish and chips.
-Do our best.
-Do our best, yeah.
-And we want to win. So, yes.
Every Friday, one in five meals eaten outside of the home
is from a fish and chip shop.
When we stand in that takeaway queue,
we want our food to arrive perfectly cooked every time.
And we want it served to us fast.
So our first task is about speed.
Which of our takeaway cooks can prepare and dish up
their bestselling fish and chips first?
Fire up the fryers, let the fish supper fight commence.
Are you all right, Barry, yeah?
Yes. I'm going to need that machine to do the peas.
Got about four minutes.
Each team has seven customers to serve.
It is a race to finish first
but fast food shouldn't mean bad food.
We want to test that the quality is kept high,
even when they're pushing out those orders.
Oh, my goodness me.
Quickly, quickly, quickly!
In this task, dad Sid is standing in for Papa's champion fryer, Dino.
-I think I've broke my wrist.
The old man, is he going to cope with the pace?
That's the thing, he might cope for about ten minutes,
then need to sit down for ten minutes.
It took me seven hours to be here.
It needs to be good.
Slow and steady, and let's get prepped and everything ready
so that customers are not waiting,
because I want to make sure they're not waiting for anything.
Like chip shops across the country,
Kelly is weighing her cod into portions
before calling for her first customer.
Let's concentrate on what we're doing, not what they're doing.
Otherwise you'll get carried away.
Sid and George are going with a very different strategy.
I'm going to get an order.
Open for business!
-How are they open for business already?
Hi, can I have my first order?
So, Sid and George have employed a really interesting tactic here.
Everyone else is trying to get their prep work ready
before they take an order.
Sid and George are taking orders and prepping at the same time.
Can I have a small fish, please, a regular fish...?
And if they get it right,
then it means they're going to do everything,
I suppose, double-time, double quickly.
Going to be a couple of minutes, OK?
-You having salt and vinegar?
-Is there any other way?
That batter is my grandad's own recipe.
We've been using it for 30 years.
Come on! Come on, stop talking.
Stop talking, come on.
Get those chips ready.
Can I have them? Where are they?
In the rush to get ahead,
Sid may have started frying
before the oil has reached optimum temperature.
No, no. Getting to me... One minute, one minute. Five seconds, George.
Too cool and the oil will be absorbed by the potato,
making it soggy.
Too hot, and the outside will burn, leaving the inside undercooked.
Oh, yeah, perfect.
Perfect. The fish on here, please.
-OK, thank you.
-You can't rush perfection, eh?
-Just admiring the view.
-Well, it is a great view.
Did you mean the beach, or me?
Sid and George might be racing ahead.
But to make sure our cooks don't sacrifice quality,
Tom is joined in judging by local fish restauranteur Mitch Tonks.
Listen, there's nowhere to hide with fish and chips.
There are so many elements to get right.
You've got to have good potatoes, you've got to have great fish.
You've got to have well-made batter.
It's bringing all of that together at the same time,
hundreds and hundreds of times a night.
And that is what makes great fish and chips.
Is my medium fish ready?
Small one? There you go, in there.
And...having curry sauce on the chips, yeah?
There you go, darling.
-Enjoy your meal.
Looks amazing, thanks very much.
Next order, thank you!
Are you having curry sauce?
-How are they even doing that?
-I don't know. I don't know.
Simon and Barry,
are you slightly worried you haven't taken your first order?
No, I'm not too worried.
-This is how we do it.
Slow and steady.
Slow and steady wins the race.
But it is a speed test, so slow isn't the name of the game.
I'm not one willing to compromise on quality.
I'm going to do it exactly how I do it in the restaurant.
I'm going to give all the customers
the best fish and chips they could possibly have from me.
And that's key, that's what we're all about.
Simon's covering freshly caught pollock with panko breadcrumbs,
made from bread without crusts
so the coating is delicate and crispy.
Yeah, yeah, we've got to be ready to go now.
But none of his customers have yet to get a taste of it.
Have you got another patty?
Yes, two patties is in the fryer, sir.
-OK. How's the fish?
Fish is nearly done.
Sid's already onto his second customer.
I need one more medium.
-Perfect, that's fine.
-No, no, no. Please.
I trust his judgment.
No rushing, no rushing, please.
I'm very confident.
Look at that.
Tim and Kelly are finally ready
to get their battered chips and fried cod
to their first customer.
Right, your small fish are on the right.
Your large fish are on the left.
But they've got a lot of catching up to do.
OK, here we go.
Sid and George are storming ahead with their fourth order.
Thank you, sir. Enjoy your meal.
How can I help you?
OK, we're ready for business.
Open for business!
Finally, Tim and Kelly have asked for their first order.
One small fish...
OK. Just clear that in there, and start getting orders in.
Can we get an order, please?
Simon's not far behind them.
-How's it going?
-Very good, thanks. Very good. We're up against it.
So what can we get you?
Chuck them in there, chuck them in there.
There we go, my lovely. I hope that's OK for you.
Tim and Kelly are now onto their second customer.
No worries. It will just be a few minutes for you, is that OK?
-Yeah, that's fine.
Sid and George now have only two orders remaining.
Come on, come on. Stop talking.
No time to talk. Come on!
-Can I have the next order, please?
-Next order, please!
Can I have three small fish...?
What do I need?
Two small, one regular.
You go. Go, go, go, go.
Three small, two regular. As soon as you can, get them out.
There's your big and your small.
OK, can I get another order, please?
Next order, please?
Oh, a familiar face!
Are you ready for your last order?
-Is it a big one?
-It's a big one!
OK, hit us with it, Cherry.
One small fish.
-One regular fish.
-Less chips, less chips.
Can we get another order, please?
Stop cooking, please.
That is it, that is it, that is it.
It was a valiant effort by the other teams,
but they just couldn't close the lead Sid and George opened up.
Thank you very much, everybody.
Thank you. I'm afraid you have to put your panko breadcrumbs down.
Hey, Simon and Barry. A little bit behind schedule.
Yeah, a bit behind schedule. But we think everything that went out
was the highest quality it could possibly be,
-and that's the most important for us.
The judges need to check whether our cooks have managed to maintain
high standards under pressure.
Pollock is not the best tasting of fish, but I think when it's
this big and cooked like this, lovely, crisp outside...
Beautiful big flakes.
The piece of fish is absolutely amazing.
You can tell the standard, the quality of it.
Now these chips...
Red potato. So it's going to be soft in the middle.
-This is great.
-Thank you, guys. Appreciate it.
Tim and Kelly, traditional fish and chips.
-This is what you recognise as a southern fish and chip guy.
I love cod.
Still very crispy.
Really nice. Lovely, white fish.
And then the chips, I like what you've done here,
putting them in a batter.
You're going to get a crispy outside.
-Well done, well done, well done.
Thank you very much. Thank you.
Well done, boys. Cracked through those orders really well.
For an old man, you kept up with it.
-Still got it!
-Still got it.
Sid and George won the race, but they will only win the task
if their final order is as high-quality as their first.
-That batter's fantastic.
Really thin, really, really crispy.
Even though you were so quick with this,
the first portion of fish and chips that we tried,
-this last one is equally as good.
-Yeah, it's great.
Really, really good. That's proper skill.
-Thank you very much.
-Thank you, guys. Thank you.
Can I have a little taste, guys?
Battered chips? Oh, look at that one!
Harder work than I imagined it to be.
Yeah, we shouldn't have done so much prep. We should have just gone
-straight in and prepped as we went along, I think.
I can't... They were so quick!
-Were you shocked?
-Yeah, I was very shocked.
Well, we wouldn't have done it any differently, you know?
That said, I wish we were quicker.
I wish you were quicker!
-Thank you very much, Dino.
-Thank you very much.
-You can have a couple of days off now.
-I know! I can take a day off.
-Felt amazing, didn't it?
I'm going on holiday! After today, definitely, I'm going on holiday.
Almost half of all of the fish we eat outside the home
is bought with a side of chips.
Nowhere else in the world are these ingredients
so lovingly bound together.
What's strawberries without cream?
Morecambe without Wise?
Fish without chips?
But when did we fall in love with chips?
To find out, I've come to Lincolnshire...
..one of the largest growers of potatoes in the UK.
As a nation, we buy nearly 2.5 million tonnes of potatoes a year.
And a quarter of those are chips.
To find out why chips became a central part of our diet,
I've enlisted the help of food historian Polly Russell.
Who do we have to thank for the invention of chips?
What genius gave us that gift?
I think we should thank the Victorians, really,
because the chip becomes popularised during the Industrial Revolution.
Britain was transformed by the Industrial Revolution.
As people left the land to work in factories,
food started to be eaten outside the home.
What was the main bulk of what people were eating?
bread has really formed the mainstay of most people's diet.
And, also, oats as well, in certain parts of the country.
But, by the Industrial Revolution,
the potato becomes more and more significant in people's diet.
It was usual for many people to work 14 hours a day,
six days a week in the new factories.
And they needed food that would keep them fuelled.
Whereas today we need, if you're a woman, about 2,000 calories a day.
If you're a man, 2,500 calories.
If you're doing hard, physical labour,
you need between 3,000 and 5,000 calories a day.
Every single day?
We know that in 1881, the average consumption of potatoes per week,
per person was 6kg.
Let me show you how much that is.
That...is a lot of potatoes.
Yeah, so per week, eating this volume of potatoes by the 1880s.
But often people had very limited cooking equipment,
had very limited access to fuel.
They were very poor, they had limited time.
So, fairly quickly potatoes start to be sold on the streets,
either boiled, or, indeed, roasted, or baked.
By the 1860s, 1870s,
you start to see people inventing machines
that allow you to fry potatoes.
And that's really where the chip comes into its own,
because not only does it taste delicious,
it's being sold and it's available on the streets.
So it's convenient and it's inexpensive,
but it's also bulk full of calories.
And, so, the chip really fuels the Industrial Revolution.
So, this country was built on chips?
Chips were certainly in the building blocks of this nation.
At the same time chips were taking off,
Jewish immigrants began selling their fried fish
separately from their street stalls.
So, when did our favourite culinary couple come together as one dish?
Well, there's a claim that it happened in London.
So, I'm going to meet up with two East Enders.
Pat Newland and Salih Sadik
started out working in Jewish fish and chip shops over 60 years ago.
Do you remember the first fish and chip shop?
Yeah, I was a little boy.
And there was a shop in Old Ford Road called Malin's.
We used to buy fish and chips from there.
The great-great-grandfather of that man was the man
who brought fish and chips to England.
His name was Joseph Malin and he was a Romanian Jew.
How did he work out to put those two things together?
I believe there was a shortage of fish, or something like that,
at one time. And so he sold chips in the shop.
And, then, when the fish became plentiful again,
the people came back and they wanted fish and chips.
-That's how I understand it.
Pat and Salih have witnessed the industry grow since the 1950s.
What was the atmosphere like on a Friday in the fish and chip shop?
Well, we used to have a queue there, nearly half a mile.
-Oh, my goodness.
-I'm not joking.
-Yeah, it was.
Not like the queues today. No-one knows anybody.
They all knew each other. So they'd all be talking,
rabbiting about this and rabbiting about that, you know?
-So it was a real party?
-That's your broken one.
-Oh, that's yours, Jeffrey.
What began as a traditional immigrant dish
combined with the humble food of the workers
became a symbol of our country the world over
and fed the memories of millions.
SHIP'S HORN BLARES
Today, 85% of the fish we eat from chippies is cod or haddock.
But those early fish and chip shops had to rely on whatever was landed
each morning in ports like Brixham.
HE AUCTIONS FISH
Our judge and local restauranteur Mitch Tonks
sources all his fish here at the local market.
What's going on here? There's a bustle of energy.
Well, this is where the whole supply chain starts.
So, the fishing boats would have been landing 24/7.
This is the auction hall.
So, every morning here, five days a week,
you've got buyers from all over the country representing supermarkets,
all bidding to buy the fish that's landed.
There are over 40 varieties of fish landed here every day.
It's a perfect place to test our teams' knowledge
of this vital raw ingredient.
Sole, monkfish, skate wing...
This is the first time any of our cooks have been to an auction.
..27, 30. 30, 40...
Most chippies have their fish delivered to their shop
20 kilos, £8.
Tell me what you're looking for.
I'm looking for some amazing, fresh cod.
You've come to the right place.
Tim uses Icelandic cod.
And, like 95% of fish we get from our chippies, it's frozen.
It's frozen at sea on the boats.
They fillet it, skin it and freeze it within four hours.
It locks in the freshness,
and as soon as you've defrosted it
it's as fresh as it was on the boats.
Nearly a third of all white fish eaten in the UK is from a chippy.
4.10 by Brixham. 4.20. 4.20?
Dino uses fresh fish landed in Grimsby,
two miles away from his shop.
Unlike the Icelandic trawlers that stay at sea for weeks,
this fish is caught by day boat.
Our fish comes in daily.
It's very fresh.
And great fillets of white fish.
Haddock like this has historically been more plentiful
in the North Sea, which may explain why Northerners
developed a preference for it.
Thank you very much. Good calling.
Was that a black bream? Was that a...? That's local Cornish?
-That's a black bream, yeah.
-Oh, excellent, brilliant.
The UK lands more fish than any other country in Europe,
apart from Spain.
Simon chooses fresh fish caught in Cornwall.
And, unusually, his fish arrives whole and needs to be filleted.
OK, so what have we got? Are there any other flatfish there?
Any plaice, or anything like that?
Fish is all done at auction, so if it's been a busy weekend,
everyone's looking for fish, so the price goes up
and getting cod at a higher price than I'd normally like,
but you kind of have to take the rough with the smooth.
And then what can you do me for 1.70?
'You really need to know what you're getting.'
You really need to know what to ask for. You really need to
push these guys. You don't get off the phone until you get
what you want, really, you know?
Is that ours, then, is it?
-Great stuff, thank you very much.
All three of our cooks source their fish differently.
But how much do they really know?
Mitch here is our fish master.
And today he's going to be testing your knowledge.
I want to see how well you can select fresh fish,
and to see whether you know your species.
So, I'm going to call a fish name, and I want you to hold it up.
I'm going to tell you if you've got it right or wrong.
And then I want you to lay it straight down on the ice.
So, shall we kick off?
I want to know your red mullets.
-'Dino grew up in his family chippy...'
Oh, no. Don't lose it.
'..but only joined the business four years ago after giving up
-'his career as a solicitor.'
-That was an obvious one, right?
Because it's red.
So let's lay the fish down. That was a nice, easy one.
Give us some monkfish.
OK, right. Wrong.
How about a megrim sole?
One, two, three. Out they come.
OK. Don't worry, Dino.
No left, no right.
-Dino, you've got...
-I thought it was a megrim sole, obviously.
-Not a megrim sole.
-This is getting embarrassing, isn't it?
It's not embarrassing, Dino. This is how we get it. Let's have a cod.
OK, you've done...
-Don't let it get away.
-Don't let it get away.
'Dino has got two species wrong,
'but Simon and Tim have guessed all their fish correctly so far.'
So now we're going to go for brill.
-One, two, three, pick a fish up.
OK, wrong, wrong, right.
Fantastic. That is one of the prime fish for frying.
'Simon's ahead, but there is one more test.'
This fish wasn't all landed today.
And we all know that the key to a great plate of seafood,
however you cook it, is freshness.
So, I want you, from left to right,
to lay out the freshest fish from good to bad.
Fish isn't necessarily sold fresh off the boat.
It could come from a trawler that's been out for three to four days.
So, by the time it gets to you, it may be older than you think.
You know, for me, fish is obviously fresh.
When you look at it, it should look like it's just come from the sea.
It should be slimy. You know, beautifully slimy.
'A perfect fresh fish should have bright, round eyes,
'be firm to the touch and, surprisingly, not smell of fish.'
I want you to have a smell. It's not fishy.
-It's very early in the morning for this.
-You can't smell fish.
What you can smell is the sea.
And, in a couple of days' time, that will all smell fishy,
that terrible fishy smell that we all think it smells like,
but it doesn't really.
Let me take you through.
Simon, that's pretty good. Look at those eyes, lovely.
Really, those gills are not bad.
Still a bit of blood in them. Really good.
Dino, take me through, where's your freshest fish?
-The freshest is over here.
-So you've gone for here.
-You've gone for that sea trout?
Look at those great gills, good colour.
Pretty good job there. And Tim.
Yeah, I went for my cod.
Nice, bright eyes.
And there's an interesting one,
cos all these cod came from the same box.
Yes, cos the difference between this cod and this cod here,
you can really tell the difference.
That one just looks like it's been around a while,
-had a bit of a party.
-Yeah, he has.
-He's partied out.
-Partied out, that one.
But you know what would have happened is it's graded in sizes
on the market, so that all the cod was at the same size in one box,
but it's likely this one was caught on the last day of the trip
and this one was probably caught on the first day of the trip.
You did very well on selecting that cod above everything else.
That was very good work.
Well done, everyone.
Mitch, who impressed you the most?
Well, it was a really, really good challenge, guys.
Very interesting to see your knowledge.
For me, the aficionado in this challenge is Simon.
Well done, well done.
-Oh, my God, that's the worst.
In the past, Britain has depended on fishermen landing catch
at ports like Brixham to sustain us.
And fish and chips were a staple through our two world wars.
Winston Churchill even called them his good companions.
I've come to Grimsby to find out how a takeaway dinner
won the heart of our wartime leader
and perhaps even the war itself.
At the outbreak of World War II,
Britain imported two thirds of its food.
With the sea supply routes under attack by Germans,
the government had no option but to introduce food rationing.
Rationing will give everyone, rich and poor alike,
an equal share of all that's going.
The best way you can help is by rationing yourselves.
The public were encouraged to embrace home-grown foods,
like potatoes, that could easily be harvested.
And fish and chips were left off the ration books.
The chip shop became a home front favourite,
and kept the nation nourished.
But our fishermen faced deadly conditions to keep the country fed.
I've come to meet former trawlerman and historian Dennis Avery
to discover one of the greatest threats to our wartime supply
of food - sea mines.
In here is an artificial mine.
But that gives you an actual idea of what the size of it would be.
'Mines were one of the most savage weapons of the war.'
You're out at sea, it's dark, stormy, maybe foggy.
And you're trying to avoid those.
Yeah. But you've got to imagine that would be anchored to the seabed
on a wire. It wasn't floating on the surface.
The only time you would see one, maybe,
is if you were in bad weather and a trough in the waves,
you might actually see it then.
But, otherwise, you wouldn't see it.
Hitler's forces hid deadly mines in the waters surrounding Britain.
But many fishermen were actually recruited to seek them out.
There were 400 trawlers in Grimsby.
200 of them would have been recruited
into the Navy as minesweepers.
The other 200 would still carry on fishing.
So, half the fleet were feeding the country.
-And the other half...
-were keeping them safe.
-Keeping the waters safe.
Yeah. And my grandfather,
he was a trawler skipper at the beginning of the war.
And he got commandeered into the Navy.
He became... Anybody with a skipper's ticket
became a lieutenant commander,
which means you're the captain of a minesweeper.
Grimsby became one of the most important minesweeping bases
in the country.
Minesweepers had a special sweep with a serrated wire on.
And when it came to a mine, it would cut the wire on the mine,
and the mine would bob up to the surface.
And then they would sink it with gunfire.
-So they would shoot the mine?
They were born to it. I mean, if you took a chap
that's just been brought into the Navy and put in the North Sea,
he probably wouldn't be able to stand up for the first
two or three weeks, whereas the fishermen could just get on with it.
They were used to it. Tough as nails.
But also the local fishermen knew
all the areas like the back of their hand.
Throughout the war, over 60,000 men
were drafted into the minesweeping effort.
-ANNOUNCER ON NEWSREEL:
-'Theirs is a task of infinite peril,
'never knowing when death may strike.'
It is estimated that up to 14,500 lost their lives.
This decommissioned trawler boat is now a dedicated museum.
Churchill was so indebted to those fishermen
that, after the war, he wrote them a letter thanking them.
"Now that Nazi Germany has been defeated,
"I wish to send to you all on behalf of His Majesty's Government
"a message of thanks and gratitude.
"The work you do is hard and dangerous.
"You have sailed in many seas and all weathers,
"and you have swept the seas
"free of over 16,000 mines since the war began.
"This work could not be done without loss, and we all mourn..."
"..we all mourn all who have died
"and over 250 gallant ships sunk on duty."
I think the people who were doing this...
..I imagine to them it was terrifying, and it's day after day,
and they're out at sea away from their families.
These men are so young.
I mean, look at them.
I had no idea that the story of fish and chips...
..was so emotional.
But it's such a deep part of British history.
"No work has been more vital than yours.
"No work has been done better.
"The ports were kept open and Britain breathes.
"The nation once again is proud of you."
Back in Brixham,
it wouldn't be a day at the British seaside without a spot of rain.
Proper British weather, isn't it?
It's the best complement to fish and chips.
Fish and chips by the seaside in the rain.
It's how it should be done.
For our three chippies,
it's time to get ready for the third and final round.
Dino is replacing dad Sid, pairing up with brother George.
It's not a speed round, this one. It's not a race.
Fish and chips are as traditional as the changing of the guard.
But times move on and so do tastes.
So, in this final test,
we're asking our cooks to invent a brand-new dish.
We want to move things forward.
We want to take fish and chips to the next level,
changing the different types of fish,
changing the different coatings,
changing the different flavourings that go with it.
It's all good. As long as the heart and soul and the tradition is there,
that you have fish and chips,
there's nothing wrong with evolution.
Guys, you now have 45 minutes to reinvent fish and chips.
-The peas are on. You happy with that?
They'll be judged on how inventive they can be,
as well as great taste.
-Do you have any more lemon?
And they need to serve up five identical portions
in just 45 minutes.
Which ones are you using for grilled? Left or right?
Tim and Kelly haven't won any of the tasks so far.
So this is their last chance to catch up.
-How are we doing, Tim and Kelly? Are you all right?
-Are you bossing him around?
-More like the other way at the moment!
We're taking a turn. I don't know what's going on.
I don't like it!
To reinvent fish and chips,
Tim and Kelly are making cod three ways.
The first is pan-fried with salt and pepper.
The second will be coated in spicy breadcrumbs.
And the third dipped in batter,
infused with fizzy wine.
This is a local sparkling wine from
literally up the road from where our shop is.
The carbonated wine makes it lighter and makes the batter spike up more.
It looks more attractive.
Yes, just a lighter batter.
Brothers Dino and George ran away with the speed task,
but came last when they were tested on their knowledge of fish.
Everything will depend on this final round.
We really want to win this.
This is...this is really important to us.
We came away from really respected careers, a solicitor and a doctor.
You know, we want to prove to people that we made the right decision.
They're turning to their family background
to create a Cypriot-inspired menu.
Any black pepper? Tablespoon black pepper.
I'm going to put a tiny bit more garlic in.
We're going to draw on our heritage.
All really nice Mediterranean flavours.
It's something that I think my mum would cook.
It's something that my mum and dad would cook.
It's a bit of a combination of our whole family, isn't it?
For their Mediterranean twist on fish and chips,
the boys are making a lemon and garlic marinated fillet
of sea bream.
They'll serve it with a fried Cypriot cheese.
Halloumi, is that from your home?
Yes, exactly. This is something that's drawing on our heritage.
If you get it in the pan, we're going to have sesame seed halloumi.
OK, well, I'll get out the way before Dino starts shouting at you
anything more. I'll see you later.
I think this is very much our round.
You know, this is what we do in the restaurant every day.
Simon's ethos is all about reinvention.
He came last in the speed task but first in the knowledge test.
So if he could work on his timings,
he could win the overall competition.
We wanted to do something quite English, you know?
So, what's more English than curry?
Simon's making a curry powder to flavour his sea bass,
which will then be fried in a Japanese tempura batter.
When we're making tempura batters,
we try and infuse as much flavour in there as possible.
So we use an awful lot
of very finely grated lemon zest and lime zest.
What that does is, as opposed to having just juice...
..it means when you're biting into it, that zest really stays with you
and you get real freshness from it.
Cooks, you have half an hour to go.
Fry like demons, my friends.
We're going to get everything out on time? Yeah, definitely.
Tim's pan-frying his first piece of cod.
Where did that come from?
It's not doing very well.
I ain't happy with that.
You need a good covering of oil in the pan.
It needs to be hot, but not smoking,
otherwise that fish will catch and burn.
It's fine. Don't panic.
Do you want me to do anything?
It's the pan.
If you're not happy, get rid and cut some more.
-It's the pan.
-You've got to work with what you've got.
I can't use the pan.
Yeah, we're going to have to start again and put a bit more oil
on the pan, and just hope for the best.
It's OK, it's fine.
-I can't use that pan.
-You are going to have to use that pan,
-because that's all you've got.
-I think I messed up
and we just need to do the other two pieces.
We won't be able to do the grilled cod because it's stuck to
the bottom of the pan. A bit gutted, but absolutely fine.
Not being able to serve up all three pieces of fish could prove costly.
-Where's the whisk?
For proud Cypriot dad Sid, handing over the reins to his sons...
Keep on going, keep on going.
..is sometimes easier said than done.
-You're in our feet now. You need to leave.
If I don't win this round,
he's going to forever rub it in my face that I let him down.
I'll never work with him again.
The boys want it so much. That's why I'm nervous.
Cooks, you have 15 minutes remaining.
They're not fine enough.
Calm. It's not about speed.
I think we're both really calm.
It's been nice to prep and get ourselves ready
and how we need to be.
And I think that's when we come into our own - I hope!
OK. Right, you've got eight minutes.
Yeah, that's fine. It's fine.
-No, because you've got to...
-What have I got to do?
George, put the halloumi in.
The last part of the boys' menu is frying their Cypriot-style cheese.
-George will dip it in batter before coating it
in sesame seeds.
The halloumi's here.
Have you sesame-seeded it?
-Whack it in.
Feeling a little bit of pressure on the time now.
Probably need to get our fish in first, and then our chips in after.
Although the other two teams are almost finished frying,
Simon is only just getting started.
So what we do here is coat the fish in the curry powder,
then we're going to put it into this lime and coriander tempura.
The lime and coriander is going to give it a really nice freshness.
It will take usually about three to four minutes, depending on
the thickness of the fish.
Cooks, time flies when you're frying fish.
You have five minutes left!
-How are you doing?
-Yeah, we're nearly done.
-Five minutes, George, five minutes.
-I need some more dry sesame.
-How are you getting on?
-Everything's ready. Let's plate up.
George, can you portion up, please?
-It looks like George is struggling.
He's not struggling, he's fine.
Oh, he's fine? All right, then.
George, that's enough halloumi.
-Yeah, yeah, yeah.
-That's enough, that's enough.
With one fish ruined,
Tim and Kelly are boxing up only two of their three pieces of cod.
Let's just get rid of everything apart from
what we need on the board.
If five portions aren't plated up in the time limit,
they will be penalised.
Move, move, move.
-Yeah, happy with that.
-Happy with that.
-OK, so now, we're going to stop plating now.
Cooks, that is time, please.
-That is all the time you get.
I can see you.
-Can we not plate it up?
-Are we not allowed to plate it up?
That is all for now.
Caught me green-handed.
Teams, it's the moment of truth.
It's time for the judges to taste your reinventions.
-How are we doing, Tim and Kelly? How did we get on?
-Yeah, really well.
OK, cod three ways.
Mmm, not quite.
Tim and Kelly have prepared cod two ways,
one in chilli and breadcrumbs,
and the other in a sparkling wine batter.
Oh, my God. It's great, isn't it? You can really taste that batter.
That's absolutely fantastic.
That Prosecco flavour, you can really taste that.
-It's got the acidity in.
-And it works so well with fish.
Cos you imagine fish, it goes with white wine, the acidity, lemon,
that sort of thing. And you've got it all wrapped into a batter.
I think that's amazing. I do think that's great.
Then, here, the breaded one.
A little bit of chilli in there just to give it a bit of a kick.
And the pepper.
Tastes delicious. Very, very nice.
Those two pieces I think were amazing.
Well done, guys. Well done, well done, well done.
-OK, Dino and George. How are you doing?
Good, yeah, we're happy.
We're really happy.
Dino and George have made Mediterranean-style sea bream
infused with lemon, garlic and herbs.
It's served with fried cheese, drizzled with honey.
The smell that comes from that bream is lovely.
And this wonderful, crispy, spiky batter on the top.
Yeah, we like it to be spiky.
I think that, as a piece of fish, beautiful.
It's great. Everything about it is Mediterranean.
And I love that. You've captured it all in a mouthful.
-This is a little treat.
It's very lightly battered halloumi,
with sesame seed and drizzled with honey.
I'm just trying to see what relevance it has
with fish and chips. But that sea bream, they really do hit
the brief for me. I think they're fantastic.
-Thank you so much.
-Boys, how did we do?
-Yeah, really good.
Really happy with everything we've done.
So did you manage to finish all the elements?
-But not actually finish plating it up
-and ready to be sent out?
-Just a whisker away. OK.
For Simon's twist on the classic,
he's coated a curried fillet of sea bass
with a lime and coriander flavoured batter.
So this batter is still very nice and crispy, we can see.
Then we'll crack it open. You can still hear the crack.
That amazing piece of white fish.
A beautiful bit of line-caught bass from around here, Mitch.
Perfect. One of the best fish in the sea. I mean, look at it, you know?
The batter is absolutely fantastic.
The curry powder, I think it's quite strong.
I do think it's maybe a little overpowering.
A lush flavour. Maybe should just be toned down just a little.
Let the fish sing.
But a reinvention of fish and chips - this is one hell of a job.
It feels so far from fish and chips, but it still has the same heritage,
and heart and soul. Well done.
An incredible day of frying, through the sun and the rain.
But Tim and Kelly only made two out of their three dishes.
And chef Simon didn't serve up on time.
And that could well count against them
as the judges decide the overall winner.
So, Mitch, fish and chips.
Amazing British takeaway food done at its best today.
It was, it was really, really great stuff, I agree.
First off, let's talk about Simon. That piece of sea bass that he used.
-It was unbelievable, it really was.
One of his biggest problems, though,
is that he didn't get it done in time. He didn't get it into
the takeaway containers for us to see as a takeaway dish.
He just had it sat around.
And then also in the speed test.
We were tasting the first one as Sid was finishing the last.
-It is different. It was more restaurant cooking.
Dino and George. That speed test blew me away.
-How quick, how fast.
-It was done, it was all up there.
It was amazing. They smashed it out of the park.
They were so quick. And then on top of that, the food was brilliant.
I mean, they stuck true to their family heritage.
There they are, Cypriots using sea bream, garlic, thyme, lemon,
all those flavours that you would associate with that island.
But we have to ask ourselves - battered halloumi.
-I mean, I kind of... Like you, what on earth was it doing there?
That was the big letdown for me, that they weren't great.
Let's go to Tim and Kelly.
Those chips that they battered and then fried.
-They were crispy.
In the reinvention test, I love the fact that they were going to put
a piece of grilled cod with salt and pepper on the plate
-because that's good enough.
-But they didn't manage to get it out in time.
But they didn't manage to get it out in time, no, no. Equipment failure.
For me, this is an incredibly difficult decision.
You've got to think about, you know, what is a fish and chips?
What do people want from the great British takeaway?
-Do we want to sit here by the sea,
open the box and smell curry and all that kind of stuff going on,
which is delicious? Or do we want to open the box and smell fresh fish,
salt, vinegar and the sea air?
-And it's a difficult one.
-It is. One of them...
One of the most traditional fish and chips done in the most perfect way
by a choice of two different guys cooking there.
-Then you've got a third person just taking
fish and chips into the future.
Cooks, you have made some incredible food today.
Thank you so much.
Time for the results.
Guys, what can I say?
This has been one of the hardest decisions.
But there has to be one winner.
And today's winner, showcasing the best fish and chip takeaway, is...
-..Dino and George.
And, of course, Sid.
-Thank you very much.
Absolutely amazing. And we are a bit dumbfounded, aren't we?
Can't find the words.
Those guys were so amazing, as well.
And to come out on top is just...
A huge compliment.
'It's a massive compliment. Absolutely amazing.'
Well done, amazing.
Oh, I'm so happy for you.
-How can you not be disappointed?
-Yeah, too right.
But it's, you know...
-Everybody's so great.
-The standard was so high.
Celebrating the great British takeaway - what more can you have?
Yeah, they're great guys.
Well deserved it.
Get in here, get in here.
We would have liked to have won, but, you know,
I've got the utmost respect for the guys and what they do.
They're fast, you know what I mean?
I was surprised at the standard that came out.
I had no idea who was going to win.
I don't think any of us did, you know?
So proud for them.
I'm so proud. Oh, I can't say...
Can't say anything.
-He can't put it into words.
-Can't put it to the words.
It's not easy to cry.
Honest to God, today, I cry.
That's for Dad.
Fast food doesn't have to mean bad food.
The food that those guys just served is a great example of that.
Exciting flavours served quickly and great quality every single time.
That's what it's all about.
Fast food has got plenty of bad press, but did you know that the UK is bursting with award-winning takeaways whose high quality could rival many restaurant kitchens? Or that behind every takeaway is a fascinating story that shaped our communities as well as our palates?
This week, Michelin star chef Tom Kerridge travels the country to find out what makes the best fish and chips and the trade secrets behind them, while Cherry Healey discovers that the origins of our national dish aren't actually British at all. Then, three of the nation's top chippies are invited to compete in a contest at one of Britain's oldest fishing ports, Brixham Harbour. Each is passionate about their own style of cooking but they all have very different ideas about what makes the best fish and chips. For one, it is haddock and beef dripping, for another it is cod, and for the third it is a re-invention of the dish itself. So it is down to Tom and his expert judge, fish restaurateur Mitch Tonks, to decide who makes the best takeaway on the day.