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MODERN WELSH COOKING -
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Chippie (Fish & Chip Shop) Is Best In
Ken Thorne, Food Editor, Ninnau.
Fish (Plaice) and Chips at Allports, Pwllheli, North Wales
Welsh seafood is riding the top of
the wave again this year! Announced January 2004, the Welsh chippie Finnegan’s
Fish Bar, Bridgend,
Finnegan’s Fish Bar
It's Official - Finnegan's - 2004 All UK Best Chippie!
Fresh Cooked Cod Heads For The Plate
The wildly successful chippie,
started from scratch by Welsh born husband and wife team, Huw and Sara Jones
adopted a curiously Irish name. Apparently, it’s a name they saw while
The Joneses are famous for their “batterless fish.” Not only is it
now culinary fashionable to minimize the batter, but it tastes wonderful and
there is just enough batter to hold the fish together during the frying process.
The secret formula for the batter allows them, by a deft use of thumb and finger
to remove most of the batter from the fish before frying. Fresh from the fryer,
a delicious crispy thin crust covers delicately cooked, moist tender fish –
One staff member said, “Huw believes in buying the best quality and
freshest ingredients available. It
may cost the customer a few pence more but they know they are getting the best
fish & chips available and it’s still very reasonable. We offer a very
broad selection of fish, such as, haddock, tuna, scampies, cod, plaice and hake.
Cod is our best seller with haddock next. We also sell pies, sausages and
The staff member continued, “Before winning, we have always had good
business but now serve about 3000 customers a week. People are calling from
seventy miles away. Our customer care does not finish with the cooking; our
presentation is first class also. We use a nice corrugated box with a
greaseproof liner to hold the meal, add a slice of lemon, wet wipe and a plastic
fork. We also give you all the malt vinegar, ketchup or mustard you want.
The box is covered with a lid so the food stays warm for the customer.”
Americans are fascinated with the image of fish and chips wrapped in
newspaper! Sold for the first time, fried fish and shaved
potatoes, wrapped in newsprint appeared in the alleys of
In an interview with Tryst Williams of the
Perhaps what really may be the tallest fish tale of all, is the remark by
customer Mike Doyle, “I have been using them for about eighteen months and the
fish are so fresh they’re eating the chips!”
According to a report in Ananova
Journal, the judges of annual fish and chip competition, which is in its
sixteenth year, were ecstatic about Finnegan’s
saying, “The couple won because of their commitment to innovation and
quality.” At Finnegan’s
Allports Fish & Chips
Allports, Pwllheli Fish & Chip Take-Away & Restaurant
Vickie's Cooked Plaice Heads For My Plate!
John and Sarah Allport crested out
in 2001/2 by winning with their Pwllheli, Gywnedd shop. A location that had only
been open a year!
In a very modest one-room office,
he shares with his administrative assistant I talked to John about his business.
He said, “After careful planning we opened our first shop in 1988 in
Porthmadog and after another diligent planning period took over an old run down
café in Pwllheli during 1999, renovated it and opened in July 2000.” Leaning
forward in his chair with body language exhibiting barely concealed pride, John
says, “Just a year later the new shop won the all British championship.”
Each shop is given an equal number
of customer nominating ballots; a high percentage must be returned to the
organizers for even a chance at the first round of competition. Using secret
inspectors, the organizers determine regional winners for invitation to the
John said, “2001 was an Elvis
Presley anniversary so we used an Elvis theme that year to promote our shops,
our customers loved it and money just danced into our tills all year! Smiling,
he said, “The London judges also loved it! Our Porthmadog shop had won the
regional finals as the All Welsh Champion several times but never prevailed in
Both winning businesses emphasize
the freshness and quality of all their ingredients including cooking oils. For
example, Allports fish, frozen at sea
immediately upon catch is hand filleted in their shop for best quality.
John Allport continued, “Our
most popular meal is cod and chips. Customers also love our hake and chips. We
offer several other fish selections including cod roe, haddock, plaice, shrimp
and tuna.” The Pwllheli shop has both carryout and an air-conditioned
restaurant in the same building. Both offer the same menu, which is very
extensive. Asked about other popular items, John said, “Chicken and chips is
our second best seller; we sell Southern Fried style as well as half chickens.
Our chicken, cooked in a oil pressure cooker called a ‘Flash Boy®’ is
delicious!” ‘Flash Boy®’ is equivalent to a ‘Broaster®’ in the
because of its two busy locations they goes through a two-step chip cooking
process. At a central location, they blanch their chips in moderately hot oil
until color is about to appear, then the chips are then refrigerated. Shipped to
the shops, the chips are cooked to golden brown. The Allports chip is crispy on the outside, moist and tender on the
inside and would be reminiscent of a thicker version of our French fries.
However, most chippies continue to cook their chips using the single frying
method producing the traditional, soft chip.
I swear that Howard Evans’
Grandma Bevan from Skewen,
Chippies must be in the Thorne
genes. I remember my first fish and chips meal just after World War II. Emerging
from the dark, starving rationed days of the war, chippie food was marvelous!
After I had left for the States, my cousins, Len and Nancy Thorne bought the
Ritz chippie in Skewen next to the cinema and ran it for a period in the
seventies. Retired after a successful career as an insurance manager, Len, with
wife Nancy now live in Caerphilly. They have never lost the old chippie touch
and it still shows in everything that they cook, particularly home cooked fish
There are 8500 chippies in the
I enjoyed writing this article,
doing research but best of all, the eating and tasting of very fine Welsh fish
and chips. Listen up Allports and Finnegan’s,
I will return and soon I hope!
Finnegan’s Fish Bar is
located in the Broadlands Shopping Centre, Bridgend,
Allports Fish and Chips have
two locations in Gywnedd: Y Maes, Pwllheli.
011 44 1758 612 641 and
When next in
Mwynhewch Eich Pysgodyn a
Sglodion– Enjoy Your Fish and Chips!
www.WelshFoodie.com website for color pictures.
Contact Ken Thorne: Email - WelshFoodie@aol.com or 440
Copyright © 2004 Ken Thorne
Ruth Chris’ French Fries
(Similar in Style to Allports’ Chips)
potatoes in sticks approximately, 3/8 inch by 3/8 inch by 3 inches.
Deep fry in 250°F/120°C
oil until lightly brown, about 3 to 5 minutes. Remove and drain. Season to taste
with salt and pepper. Allow to cool, refrigerate or freeze until required.
service, deep fry the partially cooked potatoes in 350°F/180°C oil until
golden brown in color and done. Add ketchup/vinegar to taste.
Source: Ruth Chris’ Steak House French Fries from “On Cooking” by S.
R. Labensky and A. H. Hause, Prentice Hall, 1995.
Adapted by Ken Thorne,
Ninnau Food Editor.