Filming The Best of British Takeaways!
Back in February 2016 we received a very unexpected email from a TV production company called Twenty Twenty. They explained they were researching, on behalf of the BBC, for a show on The Best of British Takeaways and would we be interested in discussing it with them? To say I was shocked was an understatement!
There then followed many phone calls and emails, the thrill of filming an audition tape, then more phone calls and more emails and what felt like a very lengthy wait before we were finally confirmed as being chosen as one of the three best Fish and Chip shops in Britain to appear in a primetime show on BBC2.
Anyone who knows us well or who visits our shop regularly will all know how important Fish and Chips is to Tim and I, so we were completely thrilled to be chosen as one of the top three shops in the country to represent our trade. If anyone had told us at the beginning of the year that our love of Fish and Chips would get us on the BBC we would have thought they were nuts!
The brief was we would be filmed for a couple of days in the shop at the beginning of June, then on location ‘somewhere in Devon’ towards the end of June. The first day of filming in the shop was based around our sustainability workshop for schools (which were sadly cut from the final show) and then the second was filming us and our team doing what we do best cooking and serving Fish and Chips! This day coincided with National Fish and Chip Day so the shop was packed which was wonderful because in the afternoon Michelin Starred Chef Tom Kerridge joined us to meet the team, to talk to Tim about making battered chips and sample our food. We didn’t know much about Tom before his visit but what a true gentleman and generally great person. We really enjoyed showing him what we do!
Then the cameras went and life return to the normal day to day of cooking great food and serving our amazing customers. But not for long! Two weeks later we received an email to say that we would be going to Brixham to take part in a ‘cook off challenge’ with the other two shops – not something we had really expected to happen when we signed up for the show. The brief was very economic in detail and a challenge it truly turned out to be!
We arrived the night before the filming and seeing them erecting the cooking kiosks on the quay really gave us a sense of what we had let ourselves in for! We met the other chippy’s – Papas from Hull and Hook from Camden – along with Mitch Tonks (of Rockfish fame) and Cherry Healy who had joined Tom to co present the show.
The day was a typical June day of torrential rain, it started at 4am when Tim had to go off to the fish market for the fish identification challenge. Next was the speed test, cook as many portions of Fish and Chips as possible in a given time then for the final challenge we had all been asked to come up with a ‘reinvention’ of Fish and Chips. By this time the rain was so heavy the producers actually asked us all if we were happy to cook! We all said yes, we were all fired up and ready to go.
As you will know if you have seen the show we struggled with the equipment that was supplied and the strange and unusual conditions we were working in which, along with the rain made us feel that we really had been thrown in at the deep end! However, it was the same for us all and we really enjoyed ourselves.
We finished filming at 8.30pm, Tim and I are used to long hours as the shop is open 10 hours a day, 7 days per week but this was extreme! Even so we still had the energy to go out for dinner with the crew and our wonderful fellow competitors. Sid, George and Dino from Papas are lovely people, they care about Fish and Chips and have true passion for good food customer service. Simon and Barry from Hook make fish and chips so far removed from what we know as the great British classic and have done something absolutely amazing with tastes and flavours – I was blown away! Both shops are definitely worth a visit. We had a lovely evening to cap an extraordinary day.
To be picked to innovate fish and chips against lovely and talented competitors was a real honour and the whole experience is something that will remain with Tim and I forever.
PS If you haven’t seen the programme you can still watch it on the iPlayer by clicking here.