• Quality Of Ingredients Is Key To The Perfect Fish And Chips

As the UK celebrates the nation's favourite dish, Marco Pierre White alongside award-winning Fish & Chip shop owner Garry Rosser, provide an insight into what makes the perfect fish and chips for the 2019 National Fish & Chips Day (7 June).

Working closely together, the two have now devised what they believe is the ideal batter which elevates this much-loved national favourite onto greater things.

Pierre White's obsession with fishing is legendary when from the age of five when he started catching brown trout using brown bread as bait. Cooked by his dad after a long day on the river, the famed chef would enjoy the catch simply grilled with a little butter and lemon.

As he got a little older, he would fish for perch at the Eccup Reservoir but quickly became bored of perch and became fixated on landing a pike.

Not able to afford the proper tackle, he used perch as bait but tried in vain to hook himself a big one. Inevitably, due to the poor quality of his fishing gear, the pike would get away, but the more it happened, the greater his desire to capture a pike became.

From the age of eleven, he used to spend summers in Whitby, Bridlington and Scarborough and would go out for days at a time on boats with names like The Primrose, The Rosamund, and his favourite, The Liberty. His obsession just grew and grew, and he would out-fish grown men.

Now the head of a 50-strong restaurant estate, Pierre White enlisted the help of Garry Rosser, owner of the renowned and award-winning Scallop Shell in Bath, not only to launch a new brand called Wheeler's Fish And Chips but to work on batter combinations that would be used across his other restaurant brands.

Marco said: "I still adore fishing, and in particular the peace, the quiet and the challenge of man against fish.

"I doubt there are too many more recognisable British culinary icons than fish and chips which came to prominence in about 1860. To give you an idea on the achievement of this overnight sensation, in 1910 there were around 25,000 fish and chip shops in the UK. The garnishes we use are traditional and I'm a great believer in the adage 'if it ain't broke, don't fix it'."

Even those on the other side of the English Channel look on with envy at this great British dish. Pierre Koffmann, renowned three-star Michelin chef, and friend of Garry and Marco said: "Fish and chips is the dish that the French miss out on." However, not to be outdone, he did add that it goes very well with the French tartare sauce!

So what makes a great fish and chips?

According to both Garry and Marco, it's all about the quality of the fish, quality of the potatoes and quality of the batter.

Garry said: "With regard to the potatoes and fish you must obtain the best quality which is as close to your restaurant as possible. If that means it's 200 miles away, then so be it.

"I opened my first fish and chip shop on a farm, so the potatoes were only 20 yards away! But we only used them for two months of the year reverting to suppliers in Lincolnshire for the other ten months.

"Regarding the batter, two things to note is it doesn't like warmth and it doesn't like time.

"The best thing is there are many different types and ways in which the mix can be made. What's key is the flour used must be of the right strength. Too weak and the batter will break up. Too strong and it turns thick and gloopy.

"To us, the secret is to make the batter little and often. That way you avoid it getting warm. And the quicker the water is dispensed during cooking, the crispier the batter becomes.

"Myself and Marco have been working very closely on what we think is the perfect batter mix and is now available in the new Wheeler's Fish and Chips restaurant as well as across the MPW Restaurants estate.

"The thing about Marco, and is something people just don't realise, is he's so involved. He never stops thinking and never stops studying and he's always calling to discuss a new idea he's had or to get my thoughts on how we can tweak our batter recipe."

For MPW Restaurants, the team currently uses fish from Direct Seafoods which is not only committed to sustainability but works within the industry to guide its customers towards sustainable and ethical choices.

Garry added: "Little did I know at the time but soon after he visited The Scallop Shell in Bath, we would become such close friends.

"He is not only a fantastic person but has been a great help. He is, without doubt, the most generous person I've ever met and his knowledge is incredible. I can't think of anyone who physically and mentally works as hard as he does and I'm so grateful he walked into our restaurant."


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