Master chef Antonio Carluccio OBE will be performing the prize-giving honours at this month’s celebration, writes Anna Murby.
The event being held at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate 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.
Antonio, who has more than 20 books as well as numerous TV appearances to his name, was awarded the OBE for his services to the catering industry by HM The Queen in 2007. Some nine years earlier he was similarly recognized in his home country with the title of Commendatore, the equivalent of a knighthood, while in 2012 his longstanding commitment to the sector saw his receiving the AA Hospitality Lifetime Achievement Award.
The chef, who lives by his motto ‘MOF MOF’ – minimum of fuss, maximum of flavour – says he’s thrilled to be coming to the county: “I’m very excited to be joining this special night and getting to know Northamptonshire’s wonderful food and drink sector.
“It’s an honour to be presenting the awards to people who obviously deserve them and it will be lovely to see the happiness behind it. It means something has been done well and somebody has noticed it” Antonio added.
For Awards Director Rachel Mallows MBE DL, welcoming the man known as the Godfather of Italian food is set to be the icing on the cake of another great year of the competition: “We were absolutely delighted that Antonio accepted our invitation to be with us, following as he does a trio of culinary greats, because we know having someone of such stature means so much to our finalists” explained Rachel.
“Of course, while Antonio knows everything there is to know about Italian food, we’re looking forward to ensuring that, by the end of the night, he is fully aware that Northamptonshire is a food and drink county that’s worthy of its place on the culinary map!” she enthused.
Among those waiting to learn if they will be picking up an award from the great man are those shortlisted in the new ‘One To Watch’ category. The four are (in alphabetical order):
Ganders Goat, Cottingham
Gluten-free Artisan Foods Ltd (t/a The Happy Little Cake Company/Most Marvellous Baking), N’ton
I’m Real Ice Cream, Northampton
Towcester Mill Brewery, Towcester
As the category title suggests, this award was established to recognize those businesses younger than five years old, which, while already enjoying early success, are set to make a further impact on the sector and thereby raise the county’s profile at a regional or national level.
It was instigated thanks to Wellingborough-based sponsor Whitworth Bros Ltd Flour Millers in demonstration of their support and encouragement of the county’s entrepreneurs and increasing number of food and drink start-ups.
The last month has also seen the judging of the county’s finest eateries as they vie for the three prestigious venue titles. The first, ‘Restaurant of the Year’ (sponsored by Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment) saw the following six finalists selected (in alphabetical order):
Brasserie 23 at The Kings Head, Spratton
Fawsley Hall Hotel, Fawsley
Tap and Kitchen, Oundle
The Folly, Towcester
Meanwhile the quartet of venues now bidding for the title of ‘Spice Restaurant of the Year’ (sponsored by British Pepper & Spice) title are:
Royal Tandoori, Corby
Taste of Spice, Northampton
The Exotic Dining, Kettering
Finally the ‘Booker Food Pub of the Year’ title (sponsored by Booker) is set to go to one of the following six finalists:
Fox & Hounds, Charwelton
The Hopping Hare, Northampton
The Swan, Braybrooke
The Three Cranes, Great Cransley
The Wheatsheaf Pub & Dining Room, Northampton
Tollemache Arms, Harrington
In addition The Red Lion Pub and Dining at Cranford, while not making the final ‘Booker Food Pub’ shortlist, was awarded a ‘Highly Commended’.
The finalists, along with those in the categories whose judging has been completed, are listed on the Awards’ website – www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk – while the winners 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. For more details, please call Rachel on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile you can also follow the competition on twitter at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at facebook.com/foodawards