National awards, a royal visit and an emphasis on fine fish and fun make 2017 a year to remember for Falmouth’s Harbour Lights.
It’s been another remarkable year for Falmouth’s famous and unique eaterie Harbour Lights – and not just because it is the UK’s reigning top ‘Independent Fish & Chip Restaurant’. That award, bestowed at the industry’s glitzy ‘Oscars’ in London in January, has enabled proud owners Pete and Sue Fraser to do more than just celebrate the quality of their food and service with locals and holidaymakers.
They’ve also used their time in the spotlight to share their passion for this precious part of Cornish and British cuisine, and to highlight the industry causes and values of sustainability which make fish and chips so special to them and the 180,000 customers they feed each year.
Their restaurant has even attracted royal approval – a visit by the Countess of Wessex in September was just the latest special event in a whirlwind year. Her Royal Highness enjoyed tasting a variety of Cornish fish and declared mackerel as her favourite.
“The National Fish & Chip Awards judges commended our experienced fryers, friendly staff and very high standards,” says Pete. “But we were particularly delighted they recognised our commitment to innovating to keep things new and fresh for our customers.
“That’s something we’re really carrying through this year. We want to spread the message that we are so proud to be part of this great British tradition and industry, say thank you to our wonderful town, and make sure our customers really enjoy the simple pleasure of a cracking plate of fish and chips,” adds Pete, who with Sue took over the reins of the Harbour Lights with it’s enviable views over the harbour on Customs House Quay 17 years ago.
The team kicked off the year’s fun by pegging their prices back to what they were in 2000 for one day in February. They sold more than 2,000 portions of fish and chips, meaning a piece of fish came out of the fryer every 15 seconds and they used 1.2 tonnes of potatoes for chips!
Pete and Sue also launched special sustainability workshops held in the restaurant for local children in partnership with SciArt Solutions. Three primary schools have already visited to take part in fun activities highlighting the importance of making good fish purchasing choices.
All Harbour Lights’ fish is responsibly sourced and has either Marine Stewardship Council certification or is recommended by Cornwall Wildlife Trust’s Cornwall Good Seafood Guide. All their chips are made from Cornish potatoes, largely from Colwyn Farm, Perranwell Station.
And in May, Pete and Sue, who also own Fraser’s restaurant in Penzance, were back in London for another national award. The Fisherman’s Mission recognised their outstanding work in raising £12,000 for the charity, which supports all workers – employed and retired – in what remains the most dangerous peacetime occupation in the UK.
The cash they and their dedicated team raised added up to the biggest total from any outlet in the south west. It was raised largely through the restaurant’s participation in the Fish Friday fundraising event every June. This year’s event added another £2,000.
Sue explains: “That cause is very close to our heart and we were particularly proud of our team who donated their tips on Fish Friday to bump up the total. We also love supporting lots of local events and festivals too.”
The restaurant promises much more fun before the year is out, including starting the first ever International Mushy Pea Day, a celebration of that essential side dish which will see Harbour Lights partnering with chippies in Canada and the USA among others to pay homage to the humble but delicious pea. “There’s never a dull moment here,” concludes Pete with smile. “We just feel so blessed to be in this business and in this beautiful place, and we want our customers to share our happiness.”