'We've tasted every potato variety known to Mann'

Company of the Year and Small Medium Enterprise of the Year are always two of the most hotly contested categories at Isle of Man Newspapers’ Awards for Excellence. Julie Blackburn talks to last year’s winners about the experience of entering and about how to produce a lively submission which grabs the judges’ attention.

Dave Matthews runs D&G Foods, the company which operates Peel Fisheries and The Cod and Castle chip shops, with his wife Georgia. They now employ 15 full time and four part time staff.

The judges were impressed by the way they had used their lively Facebook page to engage with their customers and by their passionate, and innovative, support for the local food economy. They brought their entry to life with colourful descriptions of the lengths they went to to source the best Manx ingredients for their customers.

Dave explained: 'Since opening we have succeeded in obtaining a licence to buy locally caught fish directly from the fishermen of Peel and are now selling sustainable, line-caught fresh fish from Manx waters. This is something that none of the other chip shops on the island do and is now one of our most successful products.'

Dave went on to describe some of the ways in which they have developed their knowledge of where to find the best local produce: 'We have tasted every variety of potato known to Mann and have visited the farm to observe the process for ourselves. We have become so adept at identifying qualities and problems in spuds that the farmers now use us to sample any new varieties.

'And we spent time abroard one of the vessels which catches our fish and helped reel in some of the catch ourselves.

'We feel that it is important to know how our produce is developed and the journey it takes to reach our customers.'

Speaking about the experience of attending the Awards Night and coming out on top, Georgia said:

'We were totally overwhelmed winning the Small Medium Enterprise award last year. It felt like all our hard work had been appreciated and recognised.