what makes a great fish n chipper

What makes a great fish n chipper?

At the end of the 2017 Fish and Chips Awards we asked our judges for some feedback on what they saw and for some basic thoughts on how shops could improve what they deliver. The list are not rules to practice by, they are however some general questions and principles that shops can ponder.

Service, knowledge and commitment

  • Ensure your staff have knowledge about each fish [species] on offer.
  • Knowledge of where it’s caught, when it came in and why you serve it.
  • Know what the best cooking application is for each fish – whether grilled, battered, crumbed, steamed.
  • Understand portion sizes – fish come in all shapes and sizes, and importantly prices.
  • Do you have a connection with local fishmongers and local supply, are you championing your region and hero Australian fish?


  • Everything from the welcome to the goodbye impacts on a customer’s experience.
  • Is the shop clean and tidy? Dirty floors and fridges, rip and torn signage all impact on customers views.
  • Be proud of your offering, no one wants to be served dinner by a grump.
  • How does the fish n chips react to the presentation? Wrapping it tight in paper is traditional, but does it just make everything sweat and go soggy? Can your batter stand up to it?
  • Have you invested in good packaging that highlights your brand, works with the product and is easy to use and eat from by the customer.

Information and displays

  • Display key information – fish, cooking methods - it’s vital to a good fish n chipper.
  • Ensure signage is clean and legible. Grotty old signs, illegible hand-writing, dirty floors are all a turn off.
  • Make sure fish are labelled correctly with name/species (Fishnames.com.au), and country of origin.
  • It is all about letting customers make the choice. Some shops have used maps, others even suggest the best cooking application on the menu.
  • Ensure all fish is fresh, or cooked from frozen. When something smells ‘fishy’ it’s actually the ammonia as seafood begins to deteriorate and you can smell it as soon as you walk through the door.
  • Keep your seafood display looking spectacular! Seafood is wet and slimy, but if looking spanking fresh is an absolute joy to see.
  • Keep seafood on display on well drained ice. If the seafood looks tired (very common in fish n chippers) it’s not going to appeal to customers.


  • How well does the fish hold up to the technique and application - crumbed/battered/steamed/grilled.
  • Does the batter last throughout the entire eating experience. Is the batter seasoned well? Is it thick/thin and suited to the fish?
  • Is it sealing in the fish so the flesh can steam, and the batter crisp up? Is the crumb seasoned, under/overcooked does it protect the fish from direct heat.
  • Are the fries made onsite, are they cooked well?
  • Are you making your own condiments (the best places do)?
  • Is the oil off? You can smell off oil before entering a venue – first impressions last.


  • Are your portions right? Is your batter/crumb as good as it could be?
  • Have you got all your cards in order? – cookery, knowledge, service, presentation, cleanliness
  • All foodservice venues are about value. It’s not the cost that matters, it's the experience obtained compared to the price that denotes our perception of value.
  • Value is about perception of an experience and the way a guest feels after spending their money. Deliver value and they’ll be back.
  • How vast is your offering? Do you have a good selection of fish species?
  • What’s your Point of Difference? Are you dedicated to the fish of your region? Have a signature tartare? Have a secret batter recipe? Make a point to ensure guests understand what sets your product apart from the fish n chipper down the road.

Additional information

The FRDC has twenty five years of working with the seafood industry – fishers, researchers, manager and retailers. Over this time a range of material and resources have been developed that can help you address questions you are asked every day.

  • Labelling – the Australian Fish Names Standard provides the correct marketing name for over 4,500 species – see www.fishnames.com.au.

              - Status of Australian Fish Stocks Reports [www.fish.gov.au] – a guide for the
                 key species by stock health.
              - Whichfish [www.whichfish.com.au] – a sustainability risk tool for retailers
                  selecting seafood)