THE owners of a fish and chip shop crowned the country’s best have dedicated the award to residents of a town recently hit by a disaster and a tragedy.

The 75-seat Quayside restaurant in Whitby, North Yorkshire, which is run the Fusco family, said while the award reflected more than a decade of hard work by its team of 30 staff, they hoped the accolade would serve as a boost for the community.

The Pier Road restaurant overlooks the harbour, where last month the biggest storm surge to hit the resort in 60 years damaged scores of the surrounding properties and the bodies of two young fishermen were found on a boat last week.

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Owner Stuart Fusco, who won Young Fish Frier of the Year in 2004, said: “It is great, positive story for the town.

“Whitby is synonymous with fish and chips and it is great to be able to bring this award home.”

The competition run by seafood authority Seafish involved industry experts judging the shops, interviews and visits by mystery shoppers.

Shops were assessed on criteria ranging from product quality, customer service and hygiene, to innovation, staff training and and approaches to sustainable sourcing.

After being presented with the award by Michelin star chef Jean-Christophe Novelli at a ceremony in London’s Lancaster Hotel, Mr Fusco said Quayside had overcome competition from rivals by paying close attention to details such as the traceability of all its raw ingredients.

Mr Fusco said the secret behind producing perfect battered fish was using beef dripping to be able to fry at higher temperatures and to impart flavour, while chips were best if they were big and fat.