Situated just yards from the shoreline on Scotland's beautiful and rugged north east coast, lies one of the gems of the fish and chip world, The Bay in Stonehaven. It's something of an understatement to say that Calum Richardson, its irrepressible chef director, is a stickler for quality. Over the past 22 years – 13 at The Bay – he has cooked for and become firm friends with chef luminaries including Tom Kitchen and Raymond Blanc. Though their cooking styles may differ, the three share an unflinching belief in doing things the right way. With a keen focus on sustainable sourcing, seasonality and using only the best, freshest ingredients, Calum has – from his modest Aberdeenshire flagship – been fundamental in helping elevate the humble British staple to new heights. His menu changes daily, depending on the catch landed in nearby Peterhead, and includes options from MCS certified haddock – served battered, breaded, baked or griddled – right through to fresh local scallops.
It's this constant drive for quality that Calum says keeps customers coming back for more; buoyed through low season and high by a healthy tourist trade and a throng of loyal locals, The Bay serves up 250,000 portions of award-winning fish and chips per year. When it comes to condiments, Calum is just as exacting, choosing Sarson's Malt Vinegar to compliment his food every time.
"I'm a firm believer that if you source the best fish and you've created a batter so there's no nasties in it why would you put something on it that's not going to make the final product sing?"
"I know my industry and I've seen the debates online about non-brewed condiment; the reason some shops take it is simply on price and not quality. It's also very weak, so you have to use more and could spoil the food by putting loads of – effectively – ‘water' on your chips.
"For me Sarson's is the number one; we wouldn't use anything else in the shop. It has that traditional smell that you just instantly link with fish and chips – it's that memory you have as a child. I can be walking around the corner to the shop and suddenly I'm hit with the smell; there's nothing like it – it's so evocative and Sarson's has a massive part to play in that."