A small family owned chip shop, from a small South Island port town is officially home to New Zealand's best fish and chips.
Lyttelton Fisheries, located in the little port town 12km from Christchurch, grabbed top spot in this year's Crisco Oils Best Chip Shop Competition, scoring such a low chip fat result that even the judges were surprised.
In fact Lyttelton Fisheries' chip fat content of 3.72 per cent was not only half the national average, but the lowest fat percentage recorded in the history of the competition's grand finals.
Shop owners Caroline and Jason Otene were both delighted, and shocked, by the win.
"We only bought the shop off my brother in July and it was my sister who encouraged me to enter the competition, " says Ms Otene.
She says the secret to their success was a combination of hard work and maintaining high standards.
"Chip shops in the South Island are clearly doing something right because their chips scored lower than average fat levels in comparison to the rest of New Zealand, " said Graeme Laurence, event organiser and general manager of Goodman Fielder Commercial.
Heart Foundation nutritionist Judith Morley-John has also been encouraged by this year's results.
"This time around we saw an average chip fat content of 7.6 per cent recorded across all of the samples for the six winning shops.
"This is lower than the 8.2 per cent average for the previous year; therefore, the healthy frying technique message must be getting through, " she says.
Judges unanimously agreed that the chips sampled this year also generally tasted better, had a more consistent look and were of an even size.
The competition attracted more than 300 entries from six regions and was judged on taste, look, size, and fat content.
Public text voting determined the top 20 shops in each of the six competing regions, and a mystery judging process whittled those numbers down to a combined total of 83 finalists.
From there, a panel of judges chose the six regional winners and grand national winner.
"The judging panel looked at a range of criteria including chip taste and colour, shop cleanliness and customer service, " says Mr Laurence.
However, a core component of the judging was the fat content of the chips each shop served up.
A chip sample was sent away for fat analysis and only those containing fat levels of 11 per cent or less made the grade.
The Chip Group, which organises the competition, is aware that fewer chip shops entered this year, compared to 500 entries in 2006.
They are conducting a review of New Zealand chip shops with the results expected by the end of this year.
The Crisco Oils Best Chip Shop Competition winners were:
Region: Northland to North Shore Region
Shop: Oceanz Albany, Greville Road, Albany
Owner: Anton Howell
Region: Rest of Auckland Region
Shop: The Fishmonger, 182 Jervois Road, Herne Bay
Owner: Patrick Chandulal
Region: Waikato to Hawkes Bay Region
Shop: Seafood on the Beach, 43 Ocean View Parade, New Plymouth
Owner: Grant Schwieters
Region: Manawatu to Wellington Region
Shop: So Fine Seafoods, 2 Tennyson Avenue, Avalon, Lower Hutt
Owner: Anthony (Charlie) Cho
Region: Nelson to Christchurch Region & Grand National Winner
Shop: Lyttelton Fisheries, 38 London Street, Lyttelton
Owner: Caroline Otene
Region: Timaru to Southland Region
Shop: Waihola Fresh Fish, Main Road, Waihola
Owner: Dallas Leebody
-NZ HERALD STAFF