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Bake-off round is judged in Carlsberg Food and Drink Awards

Cllr Heather Smith tucks in at the bake-off!

Anna Murby updates us on the progress of judging for the Carlsberg Food and Drink Awards and has news on a special guest…

Previously blessed with the company of chefs Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton and Michel Roux OBE, this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards Dinner will again be welcoming culinary royalty – but for now, the details are being kept under wraps!

The event, being held at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate next month, is considered one of the highlights of the county’s social calendar as chefs, restaurants, pubs and producers come together to celebrate the culmination of this prestigious competition.

After an exciting summer packed with cook-offs, mystery shopping visits and judging sessions, revealing the special guest for its end of year dinner is one of the favourite tasks of Awards Director, Rachel Mallows MBE DL of The Mallows Company and, rather like the final challenge in the Great British Bake Off, she’s confident that this year’s culinary celebrity will be a showstopper: “Given the calibre of our previous special guests, we’re thrilled to be welcoming someone of equal stature to join our wonderful celebration and look forward to impressing upon him – or her! – the amazing talent and passion shown by all of our finalists” explained Rachel.

“We know that success in this competition means such a great deal to those businesses and that sharing their evening with a culinary great such as Michel, who was with us last year, is the icing on the cake – and this year’s guests will not be disappointed!” she enthused.

Details of the special guest will be announced on the Awards’ website and via social media on Monday 2nd October.

Among those waiting to learn the news and discover if they will be picking up one of the highly-regarded category titles are the finalists who recently took part in the bake-off in the ‘Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year’ category (sponsored by Pidy UK) representing (in alphabetical order):

Forget Me Not Café, Moulton
The Apothocoffee Shop, Earls Barton
The Bread & Butter Factory, Northampton
Workbridge Coffee Shop, Northampton

The venues 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, Cllr Heather Smith (pictured), Suzanne Fairey, Commercial Manager at Northamptonshire County Cricket Club, and local community leader Neelam Aggarwal MBE DL.

While whisking, baking and piping they were being watched and scored on everything from hygiene to presentation, teamwork and of course taste by a panel of judges which included former cookery school director Mary Laing, Fabien Levet, who was proudly representing Pidy UK, and Deborah Manger, a contestant in the 2013 series of the ‘Great British Bake Off’.

Having been a judge in the county competition for the previous five years, Deborah is running out of superlatives to describe the event: “It’s obvious that the news about these awards has spread and the venues participating are just upping their game, year on year” explained Deborah.

“Not only did they create some amazing cakes and scones, which made the judging process as difficult as ever, but they did it all with such calmness which was great to watch. I was really very impressed!” she added.

While many of the finalists lists are already published on the Awards’ website – www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk – judging has yet to take place in the remaining categories, including ‘F&B Achiever of the Year’, sponsored by Howes Percival LLP, and ‘Weetabix Local Food Hero’, sponsored by the Burton Latimer-based breakfast cereal company.

The winner and runners-up in all of the categories will be announced at the Awards Dinner taking place at Royal & Derngate in Northampton on Wednesday 15th November. Tickets priced at £100 (plus VAT) are available by calling Rachel on 01933 664437 or by emailing rachel@themallowscompany.com
Meanwhile you can also follow the competition on twitter at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at facebook.com/foodawards

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