Rookie chippy in contention to be crowned the best in the country

Carl pictured with Julie Stevenson, left, and Hazel Hill
Carl pictured with Julie Stevenson, left, and Hazel Hill

A popular borough chippy is in contention to be crowned the best in the country.

Rowlie’s Fish and Chips is among 10 recently opened restaurants from across the UK to be nominated for the Best Newcomer Award at next year’s national awards for the sector.

The chippy, in Hope Carr Road, Leigh, will now compete for the chance to bring home the coveted title of the UK’s best newcomer.

Judges will make the final round of visits to undertake mystery dining assessments and full inspections, to determine a top three shortlist and overall national champion to be announced at the National Fish and Chip Awards ceremony in London in January.

Carl Rowland has been in charge since buying the chip shop last summer.

The 49-year-old said: “I’m made up. To be in the top 10 nationally is brilliant.

“I was overwhelmed - we’re just a little chippy in Leigh!

“We’ve come a long way with no past experience.

“It just shows that if you’re passionate about food, you’re going to get rewarded for it.”

It’s not uncommon for chip shops to be a family business, but Carl’s journey to being a nationally recognised chip shop owner was far from orthodox.

“I was an auto electrician for 30 years.

“One day someone robbed all my tools, which were worth £27,000. I thought ‘what do I do now?’

“I love food, and one day I was in my local chippy and the owner said ‘Why don’t you open a chippy?’

“I thought it was a great idea. I found this site on Hope Carr Road and I’ve never looked back since.”

He went on: “I thought I’d go in at 10am, make some chips, go home again at night.

“Oh my word, what a rude awakening that was! I’m in at 7am, and go home at 8pm!

“I remortgaged my house to do this, so I knew I had to make it work.”

Despite the culture shock of running a chippy for the first time, Carl soon found his feet and is now serving up one of the most popular chippy teas in town.

“It’s better than ever,” he said.

“Customers are in every day.

“A lot of them know me from my last business; except that now instead of fixing their cars, I’m feeding them.

“I get fresh fish every day, and make my own batter.

“We’re trying to make new things all the time. Recently we did battered mussels: they flew out!

“We’ve done battered chips with Indian spices, they were a special once, the customers loved them as well.

“We have a separate fryer for our pork products too, for our Muslim customers.

“That’s really nice for them because they trust you and keep coming back.”

He added: “If I’d have been robbed 10 years ago, I’d be even happier!

“I wake up every morning with a spring in my step.”