Meet the Fuscos - the fish frying family from Whitby

Stuart Fusco serves award-winning fish and chips

Stuart Fusco serves award-winning fish and chips - Credit: Archant

A trip to the chippie is still one of the quickest ways to treat a hungry family…but only now and then

Haddock, chips and mushy peas at the seaside

Haddock, chips and mushy peas at the seaside - Credit: Archant

Fish and chips are, for many in Yorkshire at least, the finest fast food of all – especially if it is served by the Fusco family in Whitby. ‘It takes just five minutes to cook fish and chips – all the work and time is spent in the preparation,’ says Stuart Fusco director and head chef at the Quayside restaurant and takeaway.

It is still a family business founded by his grandmother five decades ago and is this year’s number one independent fish and chip takeaway in the UK. He, together with his mother Carol Fusco, took time away from the fryer to talk about the importance of being able to trace all the ingredients they use back to their origins, even down to the beef dripping.

‘Fish and chips are a treat, they are not meant to be eaten every day,’ says Stuart. ‘And when they are eaten as a treat they are among the most wholesome fast foods you can have. We make it our business to know exactly where the wheat for the flour in our batter mix comes from; we know the trawler crew who catch the fish and where the fish are caught and we have been to the slaughter houses where the beef dripping comes from and our potatoes we use are from Northern Ireland.

‘It is important to us and our customers that we know who we work with and where everything we eat here at Quayside comes from and that includes catching the fish we serve in a sustainable way. Our cod comes from Icelandic waters; we’ve met the trawler men and we know who to go to if there is any kind of a problem.’

Stephen Andrews serves a young customer

Stephen Andrews serves a young customer - Credit: Archant

Last year the Quayside became the first fish and chip shop in Yorkshire to be given the Marine Stewardship Council (MSC) stamp of approval for its sustainably sourced fish.

The business includes the Quayside restaurant and takeaway on Pier Road, Whitby, the Royal Fisheries on Baxtergate and their latest innovation, the Fish Box, an express-style takeaway on Langbone Road. Winning the UK title has already made an impact on them.

Most Read

‘It’s hard to put into words how excited we feel at this moment,’ adds Stuart. ‘We simply couldn’t have won this award without the hard work and dedication of our staff that have been loyal to us for so many years. It’s safe to say the whole team is over the moon to get such public praise for what we do.’

The 80-seat restaurant and takeaway underwent rigorous judging to win the national title for the first time which took into account everything from its value-for-money offering to its sustainable sourcing, customer service, staff training and promotions.

The family also took the Marketing Innovation title with its ‘Fusco Fish Fight’ to help spread the word about fine quality fish and chips, their Fusco Foundation for schools, a new interactive website and regular awareness days and charity events.

So what is the future for fish and chips? The traditional takeaway meal is not disappearing any time soon. ‘For many it’s all about nostalgia,’ says Stuart. ‘People love them because they remind them of their childhood, the fun they had at the seaside, the smell of the sea and the call of the seagulls. And Whitby is the fish and chip capital of the world.’

But adds Carol, who has helped to build the foundations of their success and is a director in the business: ‘Education is important. People need to be educated about sustainable fishing so they understand that if they eat cod they are not helping to deplete the fish stocks as some think they are.’