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Battered chip battle rages on

Staffordshire | News | Published:

Orange chips are to the Black Country what jellied eels are to London or pasties to Cornwall.

wd2404915chips-8-rh-18.jpgOrange chips are to the Black Country what jellied eels are to London or pasties to Cornwall.

But which chippy can stake its claim as the pioneer?

Today a debate was launched about the origin of the famous delicacy – and how to create the perfect chip.

Jack Pringis, pictured, owner of St Anne's Road Fish Bar, in Willenhall, claims to be the inventor. But the claim is replicated at chippies across the region.

"I've been making battered chips for 40 years," said Jack. "I was making them before anyone and mine are the best around. My recipe is top secret.

"I learned the trade the hard way from my uncle when I was just a boy. I used to work seven days a week for just £16 – I didn't do it for the money, I did it for the love."

Jack, aged 62, has been running St Anne's Road Fish Bar for six years with his daughter Tina and son Costas.

He said: "We get people coming from Telford, Birmingham and all over for our orange chips. One woman who was visiting from Canada liked them so much she bought a big batch, froze them and took them home. People come from miles because they know my chips are the original and best. Other chips can be greasy but mine are perfect."

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And Jack's customers certainly seem to agree with him. Regular Andrew Bryce, aged 18, said they were so tasty, he often stopped by three times a week.

"The battered chips are ace," he said. "I visit two or three times a week on my way home from work."

Jack's claim doesn't cut much ice with Royston Spencer, manager of Major's chippy, in Church Street, Bilston, who claims his father was the "pioneer" of battered chips.My dad, Major Spencer picked up the recipe around 40 to 45 years ago when he was working for a little-known chippy in Wolverhampton.

"The owner of that shop died and my dad was the only one who knew the recipe so he carried on the legacy," the 26-year-old said. "Anyone who is selling battered chips around here is copying us.

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"We get a lady who pops down from Blackpool every now and then and freezes a load to take back with her.

"We were the original and our chips are award-winning, we were named best chippy in the entire West Midlands in 2005."

Customer Barry Ireson, aged 48, of Bilston agrees. "Orange chips are a real Black Country staple and Major's do the best around here," he said.

Another provider of orange chips, the Newbridge Fryer, in Newbridge Crescent, Tettenhall, is something of a newcomer to the art, having only been operating for five years. But it claims to provide the perfect chip and also has something the other chippies don't – celebrity fans.

"We get all the Wolves players in here and they love the battered chips," said self-confessed chip perfectionist Andrew Calleja. "We've had Steve Bull, Don Goodman, Andy Keogh, Paul Ince and loads more."

The 35-year-old said he and his brother Mark had been forced to open seven days a week to cope with demand.

"It's all about quality ingredients," says Andrew. "It's like running a car, you have to have the best oil. I don't care if it costs a little extra, it's got to be the best. If my staff make them less-than-perfect, I won't sell them"

Customer Peter King, 21, of Tettenhall, said: "Andrew is a real perfectionist about his battered chips. You won't find any better in the country."

James Wilkinson, also 21 of Tettenhall, added: "You know what you're getting at the Fryer – pure quality. They may not be the original but they're the best."

* Do you know the secret to perfect orange chips? Call 01902 319688 or e-mail newsdesk@expressandstar.co.uk

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