Award News 2014

Jason Atherton celebrates Northamptonshire’s finest food and drink!

After much anticipation and a great deal of excitement, the winners of the 17 categories in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2014/15 are finally celebrating being named the best of the county’s best!

 

The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), is now in its sixth year and is again aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

 

The results were announced at a glittering Awards Dinner (Thurs 16th October) staged at Royal & Derngate in Northampton and watched by the evening’s special guest, Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton.

 

Jason, who as Patron of the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation kindly donated his appearance fee to aid the charity in its funding of research into finding a cure for spinal injury, revealed how impressed he was to have watched the competition go from strength to strength over recent years; “I had the pleasure of being at the dinner in 2010 and it’s quite incredible to see how the awards have grown in stature and the prestige that they now command”.

 

“It’s been amazing to come back to Northamptonshire and to witness firsthand the passion that the county’s producers, restaurant owners, chefs and all those here tonight have for the work that they do and I can only say well done to them all. They should feel very proud!” he added.

 

Among the victors was Ria Chambers from Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom in Wellingborough which was named ‘Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year’ after she impressed the panel of judges at a Great British Bake Off-style cook-off against five other cafés at Northampton College; “I just couldn’t believe it when our name was announced,” explained Ria “and I was really shaking as I made my way up to the stage to collect my award from Jason!”

 

“The experience of the whole competition has just been amazing and winning has topped it all so I really hope that there’ll be lots of new customers wanting to come in to enjoy our wonderful home-baked treats and join our celebrations!” she giggled.

 

Meanwhile the night brought double success for staff at Brasserie 23 at The Kings Head, Spratton with the venue itself not only winning the title of ‘Restaurant of the Year’ but its 19 year old chef Sophie Fountain being named runner-up in the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ category for the second year running.

 

The pub is owned by two couples, Katie and Duncan Kennedy and Natalie and Daniel Tompkins, the latter couple being manageress and chef respectively and to whom Katie paid her tribute; “Natalie and Daniel have worked tirelessly over the last year to create the perfect dining venue with everything from a great atmosphere and wonderful service to delicious food, all cooked on site using fresh, local ingredients” she enthused.

 

“With Sophie also doing so well again, the whole team is feeling really chuffed and we shall certainly be displaying our trophy and certificates with great pride!” she added.

 

The winners were each presented with a ceramic plate, beautifully created and hand-painted by Rob Bibby of Woodnewton Pottery, and those presentations were made by Jason and the categories’ respective sponsors as well as Awards Patrons William Sitwell and Steven Saunders from Steven Saunders VIP Hospitality.

 

It was Steven’s Executive Chef, Lee Scott, who prepared a wonderful three course menu for the guests made up of entrants, judges, sponsors, media partners and supporters. They were treated to a starter of heritage beetroot with goat cheese from finalist NeneView Dairy at Stanwick, main course of beef provided by Booker and a chocolate delice for dessert, the chocolate coming from finalist Belflair Chocolates in Brackley and served with salted caramel ice cream from Gallones in Northampton.

 

Guests were welcomed to the event by the competition’s Director, Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company and Jo Lappin, NEP Chief Executive, who outlined the importance of the food and drink sector to Northamptonshire’s economy and thanked all of those involved in supporting the event to make it such a fantastic celebration of the county’s food and drink industry; “Tonight is a celebration of everything that is fabulous about Northamptonshire’s food and drink sector industry – its vibrancy, creativity and sheer breadth of operations. The industry is worth £1.5 billion to our economy and employs some 46,000 people across Northamptonshire, bucking national trends by actually growing jobs over the past few years. It is therefore an absolute privilege to be here this evening to recognise the leading lights in the industry who make the sector such a success.  The Awards have gone from strength to strength, with this year seeing a record number of nominations and entries from across Northamptonshire”.

“NEP has sponsored these awards since 2009, and I am delighted that they continue to play such an important role in a sector of which Northamptonshire should be extremely proud,” she added.

Probably the finest food and drink heroes in Northamptonshire!

A delicatessen, a farm and a cheese maker are among the finalists vying to be named ‘Local Food Hero of the Year’ in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2014/15.

 

The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), is now in its sixth year and is again aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

 

This category, sponsored by Burton Latimer-based cereal company Weetabix and staged in partnership with the Northamptonshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), invited the public to nominate a person, business or organisation which they believed had done more in the last year to promote local food than any other.

The four finalists are (in alphabetical order):

 

Green Acres Rural Enterprise Centre, Staverton

Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Northampton

Squisito Butchers and Provisions, Yelvertoft

Waterloo Cottage Farm, Great Oxendon

 

Among the many new nominees for this year, Green Acres Rural Enterprise Centre at Staverton offers an alternative style of education to young people and their families, giving them the chance to learn about growing their own food, cooking healthy meals and how to make a living, all from a massive converted chicken shed and gardens set on a small former farm. Its Centre Manager, Heather Wilson, says she and her team are thrilled to have been recognised in this way; “We are all delighted at Green Acres not only to have been nominated but also to have reached the final of this award“.

 

“We are always so busy cooking and gardening with our young people that we don’t have time to tell everybody about how hard working they are and hopefully this will show how much we appreciate their efforts and help to raise the profile of our valuable work” added Heather.

 

Meanwhile, as last year’s runner-up, Waterloo Cottage Farm is hoping that they can go one better this year, as co-owner Kirsty Clarke revealed; “Last year’s nomination came completely out of the blue so to do so well and indeed to be shortlisted again this year is absolutely fantastic”.

 

“Quite often small businesses like ours are so busy ’doing’ that our heads don’t come out of the daily chores but being involved in these awards has opened up a whole new support system and allowed us to see what is going on locally. So, thank you to the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards for helping to put us on the map!” she said.

 

This year the competition received a record number of more than hundred nominations from all corners of the county for everything from butchers and farm shops to chefs and brewers, presenting something of a challenge to the judging panel which included a former winner of the category, Sheena Harris of ‘Deffinitely Different’, the Development and Education Manager for Northamptonshire CPRE, Sally Hanrahan and Weetabix’s Head of Procurement Anthony Bowdidge; “Weetabix are delighted to be supporting this year’s awards by sponsoring the ‘Local Food Hero’ category because as a local company, we are very proud of our Northamptonshire roots and this presents us with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the county and the depth and prosperity of the sector” explained Anthony.

 

“The sheer number of those involved in this category alone highlights the huge effort of many individuals and businesses to promote and develop the food and drink sector within Northamptonshire and, with so many heroes out there, choosing a winner was extremely difficult! I am looking forward to celebrating their success at the awards dinner next month” he added.

 

Those were sentiments echoed by Sally; “I’ve been involved as a judge of this category since its inception and to watch the standard of nominations go up year after year is quite amazing” explained Sally.

Northamptonshire’s finest venues vie for your votes!

With the glasses sparkling, the tablecloths ironed and the cutlery polished, some of the county’s finest drinking holes and dining venues are now going head to head to see who will pick up four of the prestigious venue titles in this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards – and YOU can help to decide who wins!

 

The Awards, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) and now in their sixth year, are aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

 

Among the titles up for grabs are those of ‘Community Pub of the Year – Town and Rural’ (sponsored by Pidy UK) and, following a record number of entries received from pubs which had first been nominated by the public, the finalists are now hoping for your vote, as votes alone determine the winners!

The finalists in the ‘Community Pub of the Year – Town’ are

(in alphabetical order):

 

The Golden Horse, Northampton

The Lamplighter, Northampton

The Malt Shovel Tavern, Northampton

The Woolpack, Rothwell

 

 

While those hoping to take the title of ‘Community Pub of the Year – Rural’ are (in alphabetical order):

 

The Red Lion, Bozeat

The Sun Inn, Hardingstone

The Sun Inn, Kislingbury

The White Horse, Old

 

To cast your vote for your favourite in each category, and to be entered into a prize draw to win a set of family tickets to see Peter Pan at Royal & Derngate this Christmas, simply complete a voting form in the venues themselves or clicking on the link above.

 

Meanwhile the finalists in the dining venue categories are on tenterhooks as two expert Mystery Shoppers will be visiting throughout this month to assess them on everything from knowledge of staff, use of local ingredients, speed of service, and of course the quality of the food itself!

 

For obvious reason the identities of the Mystery Shoppers are not being revealed at this stage but the happy task has previously been performed by the likes of TV chef Sophie Grigson and the former editor of the Good Food Guide, Jim Ainsworth!

The finalists in the ‘Restaurant of the Year’ category

(sponsored by Whitco) are:

 

Brasserie 23 at The Kings Head, Spratton

Franks Hamburger House, Billing

Franks Steakhouse, Northampton

The Talbot Hotel, Oundle

The Terrace Restaurant at Highgate House, Creaton

 

 

While those in the reckoning for the ‘Booker Food Pub of the Year’ title (sponsored by Booker) are:

 

The George and Dragon, Chacombe

The Hopping Hare, Northampton

The Saracen’s Head, Little Brington

The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth

 

Again, fans of the nine finalists are encouraged to show their support for their favourites by voting (again click on the link at the top of the page) and will also be entered into the prize draw. Voting in all four categories closes on 30th September.

 

For the Awards’ Director, Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company, the announcement of these results marks the latest exciting step in the competition; “We see a record number of entries into these categories each year – some being new venues to the competition and others who’ve taken part before – but they’re all driven by the same goal and that is to enjoy the business benefits that success can bring!” explained Rachel.

 

“So I’d urge all food lovers to show their support not only by visiting the venues for themselves and discover just why they’re deserving of their finalist status but also by casting their votes” she enthused.

A nervous wait for county’s culinary finest!

With the mixers whirring and rolling pins flying, some of the county’s finest cafés have been battling it out in the hope of winning the title of ‘Independent Café/Tea Room of the Year’ in this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards!

 

The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), is now in its sixth year and is again aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

 

Following a record number of entries to the category, which is sponsored by Explore Communications, a panel of judges was set the tricky task to pore over the entry forms and the reviews provided by a band of Mystery Shoppers, before choosing its six finalists.

The six are (in alphabetical order):

 

Beckworth Emporium, Mears Ashby

Dreams Coffee Lounge, Northampton

Nanna’s Kitchen, Northampton

Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom, Wellingborough

The Courtyard Café, Daventry

Woodford Mill Tearooms, Ringstead

 

The shortlisted cafés were then invited to take part in a bake-off at Northampton College at which they were asked to prepare, cook and serve a scone, a signature cake or biscuit and a drink to a team of ‘diners’, including the Leader of Northamptonshire County Council, Jim Harker and BBC Radio Northampton presenter, John Griff.

 

Among the panel of expert judges who watched and scored them on everything from hygiene to organization, service and of course taste were Diana Birch, who is the Vice-Chairman of the National Federation of Women’s Institutes, the Executive Chef of The Royal Opera House, Justin Hammett and Deborah Manger who, having competed in the 2013 series of the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’, understood only too well what the contestants were going through; “We had TV cameras watching us at every step as we whisked our eggs or beat in the flour, so I know only too well how tough it must have been for the competitors to be constantly followed by the judges’ beady eyes!” explained Deborah.

 

“But they all did brilliantly and produced some absolutely delicious cakes and scones that I’m sure Mary Berry would be very proud of!” she added.

This Years Finalists Are

The oven gloves are now firmly off among some of the county’s finest producers they battle for it out for culinary glory in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards!

The Awards, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP) and now in their sixth year, are aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.

 

After much deliberating, cogitating and digesting by two select panels of experts at the recent judging sessions, the shortlisted finalists in the five product and drink categories have been chosen from a record number of entries. They are (in alphabetical order within the category):

 Artisan Local Drink of the Year:

 

Apple Juice (Cox) – New Creation Farm, Nether Heyford

Booze Hound – Gun Dog Ales, Woodford Halse

Harrington Sloe Gin – Warner Edwards Distillery, Harrington

Poachers – Vale of Welton Cider, Welton

Wild West Ale – Nobby’s Brewery, Guilsborough

 

 

New Local Drink of the Year:

 

Big Bang Theory – Nene Valley Brewery, Oundle

Lock, Stock and Barrel 4.0% – Frog Island Brewery, Northampton

Rose Hill – Vale of Welton Cider, Welton

Saxby’s Medium Sparkling Cider – Saxby’s Cider, Irchester

Starless and Bible Black – Nene Valley Brewery, Oundle

 

 

Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year: (sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)

 

Beetroot Chutney – Limes Farm, Farthinghoe

Brixworth Pâté – Brixworth Foods, Brixworth

Culworth Beef & Silverstone Ale Pie – Limes Farm, Farthinghoe

Potato, Leek and Stilton Pie – The Moulton Pie Company, Moulton

The Mill Race Buffin – The Blakesley Hill Cake Company, Greens Norton

 

 

Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year: (sponsored by Moulton College)

 

Dark Chocolate with Chilli – Belflair Chocolates, Brackley

Double Chocolate Brownie Mix Jar – Doorstep Baking, Mawsley

Gluten Free Caramel & Apple Cupcake – The Blakesley Hill Cake Company, Greens Norton

Honeyed Damson Preserve – Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston

The Marathon Maker Muffin – The Happy Little Cake Company, Gt. Billing

New Local Product of the Year: (sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd)

 

Clickers Goat Cheese – NeneView Dairy, Stanwick

Cobblers Nibble – Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Dallington

Incredible Onion and Seeds Loaf – Incredible Bakery Company, Warkton

The Marathon Maker Muffin – The Happy Little Cake Company, Gt. Billing

The Spicy Hart Buffin – The Blakesley Hill Cake Company, Greens Norton

 

Those charged with the difficult but mouth-watering task of choosing their favourites from the record number of entries included Richard Izzard, Product Development Controller at Weetabix, the Principal of Moulton College, Stephen Davies and Mike Coppock, Curriculum Manager of Hospitality and Catering at Northampton College.

 

Among those celebrating the news of their success is Vicky Robertson of The Happy Little Cake Company at Great Billing, whose gluten-free Marathon Maker Muffin has been shortlisted in two categories; “I’m absolutely thrilled skinny to be a double finalist and to hear the judges’ remarks that they tasted every bit as delicious as regular cakes!” explained Vicky.

 

“Being a coeliac sufferer myself, I have some exciting growth plans for the company, which include trying to improve the availability of yummy treats for those who are gluten-intolerant who are often faced with little or poor choice when shopping and eating out, and I really hope that this success will help to open a few doors for me!” she added.

Weetabix

The details of the new-look competition were revealed at the launch at Weetabix’s Burton Latimer headquarters (Friday 28th Feb) by NEP’s Chief Executive, Jo Lappin. Speaking before an audience made up of last year’s winners, sponsors, judges and competition partners, she explained the importance of the awards in recognising the important role that the sector plays in the county; “The food and drink sector is crucial to Northamptonshire’s economy, contributing £1.5 billion per year and providing employment to over 50,000 people”.

 

“The Awards provide us with the opportunity to recognise the sector’s contribution by bringing together talented people from a broad range of businesses to celebrate the outstanding achievement that they have made. They also promote the sector as a great place to build a career.”

 

Meanwhile Weetabix’s Head of Procurement, Anthony Bowdidge, gave an insight into why the company is getting involved; “We are delighted to be supporting this year’s awards and to be hosting the launch. As a company, we are very proud of our Northamptonshire roots and in particular our commitment to sourcing our wheat within 50-miles, thereby supporting our local farmers”.

 

“These awards present the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the county and the depth and prosperity of the sector.”

 

Among those present was Laura Gibbins of The World’s End at Ecton who won last year’s ‘Young Chef of the Year’ title and, thanks to category sponsor Booker, spent the day alongside her lifelong idol Michel Roux Jnr in the kitchens of his London restaurant.

 

She spoke of what that day meant to her and for her career; “Going behind the scenes at Le Gavroche was just the most amazing experience and a real dream come true,” revealed Laura.

 

“My favourite part, aside from meeting Michel himself of course, was watching the chefs in action and seeing how brilliantly they worked as a team to bring everything together to perfection”.

 

“I also got the opportunity to do a bit of taste-testing, which was pretty special and it’s really opened my eyes to what I might achieve with hard work and dedication! I wouldn’t have experienced any of that without winning the award so it’s been very inspirational.”

 

Finally, the Awards’ Director, Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company, thanked those who have enabled the expansion of the competition and revealed how that can only help to further the excellence of the sector; “We’re really excited to be able to update the categories and introduce some new ones this year as we know that means we’ll be able to encourage a greater number and variety of businesses to get involved and give them a chance to share in that success.”

 

“We’re also very keen to hear from those who want to make their recommendations and nominations, whether it’s for their favourite pub or tea room, or to tell us that they’re workplace has a great healthy eating offering. Indeed anyone can play their part by getting in touch with us and help this to be the best year yet!”

 

To set taste buds watering, guests were able to tuck into some of the breakfast company’s more traditional cereals including their eponymous biscuit, Weetos and Alpen as well as sample its newest offering, its range of ‘On The Go’ breakfast drinks.

Following the speeches, they were also treated to a tour of one of the Weetabix production facilities to watch the creation of the biscuit from start to finish, everything from seeing it take shape at the moulding tables to being cooked and dried, batched and wrapped and finally making its way to the packaging hall.

Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards

The Mallows Company (07103621)

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Award News 2014

Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards

The Mallows Company (07103621)

Award News 2014

Jason Atherton celebrates Northamptonshire’s finest food and drink!

Probably the finest food and drink heroes in Northamptonshire!

Northamptonshire’s finest venues vie for your votes!

This Years Finalists Are

WEETABIX