The winner of Best Chippy 2013 is urging others to enter this year’s contest – after the accolade dished up plenty of new custom.
Claire Benson was frying high when her fish and chip shop, Pete’s Chippy in Grenoside, won the award last year.
Since then, she has welcomed plenty of new customers eager to sample her tip-top fish, chips and peas for themselves.
The 38-year-old, who lives in Middlewood, said: “It’s been a good year. The customers have been unbelievable.
“People came in and said they were trying us out because we’d been named Best Chippy and they said the fish and chips were beautiful. We had lots of nice comments like that.
“It was a bit embarrassing because you don’t want to big yourself up, but I always said thank you very much – I didn’t know what else to say.”
Claire did not serve her first portion of chips until she was in her 30s.
She was busy climbing the corporate ladder as a legal secretary at Irwin Mitchell when her parents told her they were planning to sell the chippy they had owned for 35 years.
Claire could not bear to see the place going out of her family, so – to the amazement of her colleagues – she quit her job to run it herself.
She said: “I just try my hardest, that’s all I do. And luckily for me it’s paid off.”
Claire is not too sure what the secret ingredient is which helped her to win last year – but knows service with a smile goes a long way.
She said: “I have absolutely no idea what it was that helped us to win, but we are good with customers and we chat to them.
“I just learned it all from my mum and dad and have continued with how they used to do it.
“Nothing has changed at the shop – the only thing different is I’ve put chicken nuggets on the menu.”
Claire employs one colleague for the shop and has kept the business in the family – employing her brother-in-law to carry out a twice-weekly deep clean of the shop.
She said she would definitely encourage other fryers to sign up to be in with a chance of being named The Star’s Best Chippy 2014.
She said: “It’s been great to have feedback because you do get your regulars, but you don’t know if they come because it’s convenient or because they like what you do.
“I can’t believe a year has gone by since we won, but it’s just been great.”