Village pub has bigger fish to fry after landing national award

1887 The Pantiles
FEELING CHIPPER: (L-R) Brian MacNeice of category sponsors Kerry Foodservice, Brian Whiting, Callum Smith, Whiting & Hammond executive chef Darren Collins and TV chef Phil Vickery

The village pub was named Best Foodservice Operator at the National Fish and Chip Awards ceremony at London’s Royal Lancaster Hotel.

This category was open to restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels and leisure outlets where fish and chips is ‘not the core offering’.

Competitors were judged according a wide variety of criteria including responsible sourcing policies, preparation and cooking techniques, promotional activity and menu innovation.

The Whiting & Hammond pub, whose Beer Battered Cod is cooked in local Larkins bitter, beat two other finalists to the crown, Fish in London’s Borough Market and The Woodmans Arms in Whickham, Newcastle-upon-Tyne.

‘We are so proud of the fish we use. We even know the names of the boats that catch it’

Callum Smith, the Little Brown Jug’s head chef, admitted: “I was nervous to start with but after we won the award it all got a bit messy. At least I had the day off!”

The 25-year-old from Sevenoaks added: “It was a really good experience, there were lots of big industry people there chatting about fish and chips, talking about where you get the produce from, that kind of thing.”

He said it was noticeable how the public had taken note of the pub’s achievement. “It’s really picked up over the last week, we’ve had loads of people coming in and saying, ‘oh, we saw you’d won the award and we wanted to try them’.”

Brian Whiting, the owner of Whiting & Hammond which runs five pubs locally, said: “It’s amazing to have won the Best Foodservice Operator Award. The whole team are excited and overwhelmed.”

FISHING FOR COMPLIMENTS: Callum Smith with his crispy creation PHOTO: Rose Bainbridge


He was especially proud of the way the fish had been sourced responsibly and prepared with great attention to detail.

“I have always been proud of one of our top-selling dishes and it’s certainly worthy of an award,” he said. “All the cod and haddock we use for our fish and chips come from FAS 2000 [in Paddock Wood] and are caught in the clear cold waters of the North Atlantic and the Barents Sea, north of Norway.

“We are so proud of the fish we use. We even know the names of the boats that catch it, and we tend to try and keep to these two vessels when supply allows it.”

Deputy manager Andy Mutter, in his 10th year at the pub, said: “It’s fascinating to know so much about where your food is coming from these days – and it makes a huge difference to the taste.

“A lot of people come here just for the fish and chips. It’s a big favourite all through the year, even if it’s 30 degrees in the summer like it was last year.”

He added that all the staff were feeling the effects of such national recognition:“It’s great for the whole kitchen – a bit boost for them – because they work long hours and it’s nice for them to get something back.”

“The food speaks for itself but you have to combine it with the level of service – that plays a big part too.”


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