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Rockfish owner wins Restaurateur of the Year

  • by JW

“… the best sustainable fish and chip shop chain in Britain”

Meanwhile, hopes remain that the regeneration of the derelict Drill Hall would “transform the Port Royal area”.


Six months ago, concern was being raised about the future of the Rockfish restaurant chain opening up in Sidmouth’s Drill Hall:

However, owner Mitch Tonks has now reassured that there is no truth in the rumour and that instead the opening has been delayed due to a “legal point” and “backdrop of the pandemic”.

Rumours over Rockfish Sidmouth put to bed – Devon Live

And in April this year, further ‘legal complications’ over the site arose – although councillors were determined to support its development:

Speaking in 2020 Sidmouth representative, Councillor Denise Bickley said she hoped the regeneration of the derelict building would “transform the Port Royal area”.

Sidmouth’s Rockfish restaurant delayed amid legal complications | Local News | News | Sidmouth Nub News

The ups and downs of the company’s fortunes continued last month – with cod being taken off the menu – although the news was reported very differently across the media:

Cod taken off menu in string of restaurants as prices soar – BBC News

Rock Fish and Chips in Cornwall takes cod off menu because it costs too much – Cornwall Live

Here’s a more nuanced take from The Caterer:

Rockfish said it buys Marine Stewardship Council (MSC)-certified cod, however pressures brought on by the significant proportion of the world’s whitefish supply accounted for by Russian boats and rising import tariffs due to sanctions and the subsequent increase in demand and price of fish from other non-Russian fisheries (including Norway, where Rockfish sources its cod) has made for an “incredibly difficult supply chain to manage”.

Rockfish to remove cod from menus due to supply issues – The Caterer

Times columnist and restaurant critic Giles Coren writes:

Rockfish, the best sustainable fish and chip shop chain in Britain (and the only one in which I have a small financial interest), is to take cod and chips off its menus temporarily because of Vladimir Putin. That guy, eh? The more you hear about him, the less there is to like. “What people don’t know is that Russian boats catch about 40 per cent of all the world’s cod,” Rockfish founder Mitch Tonks tells me. “We’ve never bought Russian cod at Rockfish but with a 35 per cent tariff on it now, there’s real pressure on the sustainable Norwegian cod fisheries we do use, which had been having a gold rush anyway, and driving up prices to a point where I’m asking myself how… (paywall)

Now Putin’s threatening your local chippy too | Comment | The Times

Meanwhile, Rockfish owner has just been awarded Restauranteur of the Year:

Celebrity chef Mitch Tonks who runs the Devon-based Rockfish seafood chain has won the title of Restaurateur of the Year. The ‘Catey’ award gave special mention to his support for fishermen in the South West… The Cateys are significant because the winners are chosen by other professionals in the catering industry. Mitch was the only Devon winner in last night’s award.

Devon chef Mitch Tonks is Restaurateur of the Year – Devon Live