After much anticipation and a great deal of excitement, the winners in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2017/18 are finally celebrating being named the best of the county’s best, writes Anna Murby.
The competition, now in its ninth year, is 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 staged at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate (Wednesday 15th November) and those were (in presentation order and, in the case of two winners or runners-up, in alphabetical order):
Artisan Local Drink of the Year:
Winner: Triple ‘F’ Pure Apple Juice – Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore
Runner-up: Bell Ringer – Towcester Mill Brewery, Towcester
New Local Drink of the Year
Winner: Burnt Ox Blood – Nobby’s Brewing Company, Thrapston
Winner: Dream Catcher – Tea Lab Company, Northampton
Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year (Sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)
Winner: Northamptonshire Blue – Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Hannington
Runner-up: Phipps Firkin – Neneview Dairy, Stanwick
Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year (Sponsored by Moulton College)
Winner: Honey, Lemon and Ginger Marmalade – Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston
Runner-up: Dark Espresso Chocolate – Seed and Bean, Corby
Runner-up: Gooseberry and Elderflower Gelato – Ganders Goat, Cottingham
One To Watch (Sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers)
Winner: Ganders Goat, Cottingham
Winner: Towcester Mill Brewery, Towcester
Farming Innovation Award (Sponsored by Weetabix Growers Group)
Winner: Mee Farmers, Nassington
Runner-up: Courteenhall Farms, Courteenhall
Healthy Eating Workplace of the Year (Sponsored by Northamptonshire County Council)
Winner: Weatherbys Ltd, Wellingborough
Runner-up: John Lewis Plc, Northampton
Runner-up: Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, Brixworth
Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year (Sponsored by Pidy UK):
Winner: Workbridge Coffee Shop, Northampton
Runner-up: The Bread & Butter Factory, Northampton
Spice Restaurant of the Year (Sponsored by British Pepper & Spice)
Winner: The Exotic Dining, Kettering
Runner-up: Taste of Spice, Northampton
Restaurant of the Year (Sponsored by Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment)
Winner: The Folly, Towcester
Runner-up: Tap and Kitchen, Oundle
Booker Food Pub of the Year (Sponsored by Booker)
Winner: The Hopping Hare, Northampton
Runner-up: The Wheatsheaf Pub & Dining Room, Northampton
Great Service Award (Sponsored by Northampton College)
Winner: The Folly, Towcester
Chef of the Year (Sponsored by Dawn Farms and Cordant People)
Winner: Richard Walker – Fawsley Hall Hotel, Fawsley
Runner-up: James Peck (Freelance Chef)
Booker Young Chef of the Year (Sponsored by Booker)
Winner: Victoria Austin – Highgate House, Creaton
Runner-up: Arturs Dzerins – The Hopping Hare, Northampton
Community Pub of the Year (Sponsored by Carlsberg UK)
Winner: The Dukes Arms, Woodford
Runner-up: The Sun Inn, Kislingbury
Weetabix Local Food Hero of the Year (Sponsored by Weetabix)
Winner: Steve Reid of Friars Farm, Northampton
Runner-up: The Good Loaf, Northampton
F&B Achiever of the Year (Sponsored by Howes Percival LLP)
Winner: Tom Warner and Christina Warner-Keogh – Warner Edwards, Harrington
Winner: Alaric Neville – Phipps NBC, Northampton
The evening also shone a spotlight on Eat Out Eat Well, a national scheme run here in the county by Environmental Health Northamptonshire which rewards caterers and eateries who make it easier for their customers to make healthy choices, and saw the top scoring Gold venues from five of the seven borough and district councils being celebrated for their achievement. They are:
Mille’s Café, Wellingborough
Mrs B’s in Rushden
Reg’s Café in Kings Sutton
The R Inn Hotel, Tapas Bar and Grill, Desborough
The Stables Café, Althorp
The winners of all the categories were presented with trophies which had been specially designed by the Awards team – a framed roman number IX, depicted as a spoon and crossed knife and fork, to represent the ninth year of the competition – by Awards Patrons William Sitwell and Sophie Grigson.
For the team at The Hopping Hare in Northampton, the evening was double cause for celebration for not only was 23 year-old Arturs Dzerins named runner-up in the ‘Booker Young Chef of the Year’ category, but the venue also took the ‘Booker Food Pub of the Year’ title.
Having been a regular finalist in the category and indeed the runner-up last year, owner David George was clearly thrilled to have clinched the top spot this time: “At the start of the year we set out to secure 2 AA Rosettes and win this title and we couldn’t be more delighted to have now achieved both!” explained David.
“The trophy will be put on pride of place behind the bar for not only our loyal customers to see but also those newcomers whom we know will now be wanting to visit to try our fabulous food, great service and outstanding value for money for themselves, thanks to this accolade!” he enthused.
Sadly missing from the proceedings was Antonio Carluccio OBE who passed away just a week before being due to follow in the footsteps of chefs Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton and Michel Roux OBE as the evening’s special guest.
It was therefore appropriate that the event began with a toast to the man known as the ‘Godfather of Italian cooking’ led by his good friend William Sitwell before the formal welcomes from Awards Director, Rachel Mallows MBE DL of The Mallows Company, Bruce Ray, VP Global Government Relations and UK Corporate Affairs at Carlsberg and Stephen Catchpole who is the Chief Executive of SEMLEP.
Guests then enjoyed a sumptuous three course meal designed and created by Lee Scott of Tom Hewer Catering’s newest restaurant, Hisbiscus, with help from a team of culinary students from Northampton College who switched their regular classes for the experience of being part of the prestigious occasion.
Befitting a celebration of the excellence of the county’s food and drink sector, the menu included a wealth of Northamptonshire ingredients, including the runner-up goat cheese from Stanwick’s Neneview Dairy, winning marmalade from Nature’s Fayre of Thrapston, mayonnaise from Farrington Oils at Hargrave and runner-up goat milk gelato from Ganders Goat in Cottingham.
The culinary offering concluded with petits fours generously provided by Belflair Chocolates of Brackley with the tea coming courtesy of Northampton winners, the Tea Lab Company, the coffee from Great Brington Coffee and the milk from Newlands Farm at Hannington.
In addition, Carlsberg UK’s Bruce Ray also returned to the stage later in the evening to share news of an exciting project which the brewery is formally launching later this month – their first ‘Christmas Brew’ which will be sold only in Northamptonshire at some 30 pubs, bars and venues, with proceeds donated to Northamptonshire Community Foundation’s ‘Surviving Winter Appeal’.
For more details on the competition, including the chance to watch the videos from the cook-offs and bake-off, please visit the Awards’ website at www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk or contact Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org You can also follow the Awards on twitter at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at facebook.com/foodawards