By Derek Marshall, owner of Gamba

To be recognised as the inaugural Seafish UK Seafood Restaurant of The Year was a wonderful achievement and one that we are exceptionally proud to promote throughout the UK.

Scotland has the most incredible seafood and shellfish, and we get to showcase this fantastic larder to our guests each day.

As a Three Star Member of the SRA (since 2012), sustainability is more than a choice, it’s a lifestyle; part of our ethos and really the furniture here at Gamba. We love what we do and care about serving the freshest seafood with incredible detail to service.

Whether it’s my favourite lemon sole or a piece of fresh market red mullet off the boat from Stevie Fish at the Fish Brothers (one of our close suppliers), at Gamba we love providing our guests with a real Scottish seafood smorgasbord. Taste is our hero; influenced by our love for Scottish seafood with Asian and French twists, we care that the seafood we serve is local, consistent and exceptionally tasty. We work hard with our suppliers to showcase the best produce, seafood and shellfish across Scotland. Very much working with seasonal foods, we update our menus every six weeks and share our knowledge about the fish and season with our customers.  It’s important to keep customers aware of our dishes and the reason why we choose them.

Seasonality is more significant now than ever, as quality and provenance are as important as taste and presentation for your guests. The food and drink industry in Scotland is thriving – there’s a real community and the chefs and restaurants that care about local suppliers, collaborate with others and generally innovate and use seasonal fare are thriving in a buoyant market.

Experimenting with new fish can be daunting for some customers and you have to invest properly in training and tasting sessions with staff and suppliers to tell the ‘boat-to-plate’ story to your guests. Even then, some customers won’t delve out their culinary comfort zones as it’s about personal preference, but you’ve got to push those boundaries and try.

There’s been a fantastic response to the Restaurant of The Year competition and a record number of entries. As the reigning champion, we have been asked to judge and it’s been a real privilege hearing from passionate chefs and restaurants throughout the UK.

Specifically we have been looking for a lot from each entry. It’s been tough and there’s still a lot of judging to do. For us we’ve been looking at:

Do they connect with the community and care about seasonality? Is there consistency in their product? How do they present their dishes and what’s their story?’ The shortlist has just been announced and we’re looking forward to judging the competition later this month with the panel of esteemed judges. Will another SRA Member triumph? With five of the 11 finalists, there’s almost a 50-50 chance. Kaspar’s Seafood Bar and Grill, Ondine, Rockfish, The Jetty and The White Horse, Brancaster.

This year’s winner will be announced on 7 September at an award ceremony in London.