Silverdale brothers who have fish and chips in their genes have been crowned the kings of the chippies, taking out the national title of New Zealand's Best Chip Shop.
Daniel and Richard Billington, owners of the Oceanz Seafood shop on the Hibiscus Coast Highway, have been keeping it in the family - they worked in their parents' fish and chip shop throughout their teens, and took over the Silverdale shop three years ago.
The pair beat five other finalists to scoop the title of Best Chip Shop Competition Champion 2013.
The brothers were "absolutely delighted" with the win.
"We just found out this morning and it's been quite a buzz since then," Richard said.
"It's taken a while for it to sink in but we've all got smiles from ear to ear that we have finally done it. It's all been rather exciting, actually.
"We're looking forward to celebrating with all our crew and thanking them for the part they have played in this success."
The competition is run every two years by The Chip Group, and Oceanz Seafood won the national title in 2009 under previous management.
Under the Billngton brothers, the shop took the regional title in 2011 and again this year, and has now gained top honours once again.
One key judging criteria were delicious chips that still manage to have a lower fat content, and all entrants' chips were independently lab tested.
All the finalists and highly-commended shops achieved chips with a fat content of below nine per cent.
Judges were impressed with Oceanz Seafood's salt-free chips - customers are provided with a sachet to use if they wish, and with the 300g portion size being stated on the menu.
Chip taste, quality, shop cleanliness and customer service were also factors in judging entrants, and Oceanz Seafood had the edge, judges said.
"The chips just tasted fantastic! The operators obviously used light, clean oil and drained the chips well, so it didn't dominate the flavour."
Richard said high quality product and exceptional care of oil were vital to their product.
"Every chip is different and every batch of chips is different, and you have to be aware of that and adjust your cooking methods accordingly," he said.
"Adhering to The Chip Group industry standards is really important. Giving a very good shake and bang gives much crisper, dryer chips. When they hear the banging our customers joke that we are panel beating our chips, but it makes all the difference to the end product."
The shop also serves its chips up in cardboard trays, rather than wrapping them, which made them easier to eat as well as keeping the chips crisper.
Heart Foundation food industry nutritionist Judith Morley-John welcomed the fact that all competition participants were required to have undergone and have a current certificate for The Chip Group's free online industry training.
"The impact of training was reflected in the lower chip fat content for the 48 Highly Commended shops (7.8%) compared with 9.9% for the 18 regional finalists winners in the previous competition," Ms Morley-John said.
Chip Group Chair and food educator Glenda Gourley said the competition was an excellent way to raise awareness of the possibility of producing delicious chips with the lowest possible fat content.
"The reduction in fat content this time round is awesome," she said.
"Kiwis love hot chips and this gives customers confidence that the operators displaying a current Chip Group certificate really know what they are doing. The skill of the operator has a huge impact on the chip."
The other five regional finalists were:
- Auckland-wide: Greenwoods Fresh Catch, Epsom
- Waikato-Bay of Plenty: Hawkes Bay, Queen Vic Chippy, Cambridge
- Manawatu-Wellington: Fish King Takeaways, Feilding
- Nelson-Christchurch: Victory Square Fish and Chips, Nelson
- Timaru-Southland: The Naked Chip, Waimate
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