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Comfy Duck puts ‘Grimsby on map’ with top three finish at National Fish & Chip awards

Oaklands Hotel's Comfy Duck has been named as one of the best restaurants in the country to serve fish and chips at a national ceremony dubbed the 'Oscars' of fish frying.

Comfy Duck puts ‘Grimsby on map’ with top three finish at National Fish & Chip awards

At a glitzy awards ceremony in London yesterday, Comfy Duck boss and critically acclaimed chef Steven Bennett was "overwhelmed" to pick up the award, the first business from Grimsby to do so and one which he says "puts Grimsby back on the map".

It was announced in December that the Laceby-based restaurant, which has only been in business for five years, had made it onto the shortlist in the 2017 National Fish & Chip Awards, organised by Seafish.

That was after impressing a panel of judges, who named the restaurant as a finalist in the Best Foodservice Operator Award.

Fresh from the red carpet in London, a buzzing Steven, said: "We are really pleased. The awards have been going for 29 years and we were the first business from the area to even be nominated.

"Grimsby is the home of fish. We were praised for how we source local produce and the judges said how close it was between the top three.

"It's definitely not what we expected but we need awards like these to show what a great place Grimsby is."

The popular bistro competed against the likes of Morrison Supermarkets Cafes, with outlets across the UK, and fish! Kitchen in Borough Market and Kingston upon Thames in London, who ran out as eventual winners.

To secure a place as a finalist, shortlisted businesses had been appraised across a wide range of judging criteria including responsible sourcing policies, seafood supplier relationships, preparation and cooking techniques, menu development and innovation, staff development and training practices, and customer service levels.

Judges also ate out at the Comfy Duck as undercover diners and even sought feedback from both staff and customers, before making the final call on the top three national restaurants.

The Comfy Duck employs 75 staff and pride themselves on the customer service and high standard, and Steve says that whilst he's "thrilled" to claim a top three spot but has his eyes firmly set on winning the award outright next year.

He said: "We will look to harness all we can from this experience. We go about our business quietly but the people make out restaurant. That's those who work and eat here.

"On a personal level it does feel great but I am slightly disappointed we didn't win. We will look at how we can improve, enhance our fish and chips and look to push on.

"These awards are huge. It's not some sort of Mickey Mouse competition.

"The better we do, the better it is for the town. We want to lead the way with this and I am confident about that.

"We were up against all of these big, famous businesses and little old Grimsby gets a mention. It shows that our heritage is still going strong."

The Comfy Duck sources all of its ingredients locally, and buys the haddock used by chefs from Oscar Cleve on Grimsby Docks, who have been trading for 150 years.

The restaurant also do gluten free fish and chips on Mondays, using gluten free beer and a separate fryer.

Marcus Coleman, chief executive at Seafish, said: "This award is proof that you can taste high quality fish and chips in places other than traditional takeaways.

"With more and more pubs, canteens, hotels and cafes serving fish and chips, it's important for us to recognise their contribution to the industry."

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