The team behind the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards is delighted to announce that the competition has been launched for 2018/19 for its tenth year, writes Anna Murby.
The Awards, which are run by the sector for the sector, 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.
Thanks to ongoing support from its existing sponsors – headline sponsor Carlsberg UK, Booker, British Pepper & Spice, Dawn Farms, Heygates Flour and Animal Feed, Howes Percival LLP, Moulton College, Northampton College, Pidy UK, Weetabix, Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment and Whitworth Bros Ltd Flour Millers – and with support from SEMLEP (South East Midlands Local Enterprise Partnership), the Awards categories will continue to offer public recognition to the county’s finest pubs and restaurants, cafes and chefs, producers and entrepreneurs.
Also joining the prestigious line up is Northampton wholefood retailer Daily Bread, whose generous sponsorship has enabled the introduction of a new category aimed at vegetarian and vegan producers.
Meanwhile, thanks to further support from Whitworth Bros Ltd, a special award – ‘Royal Showstopper of the Year’ – will mark a decade of the competition by inviting bakers to celebrate Northamptonshire’s link with the forthcoming royal wedding by creating a cake which will be judged at the Althorp Food Festival in May, just a week before HRH Prince Harry and Meghan Markle tie the knot.
In addition, the Awards Dinner in the autumn will again provide a platform to highlight successes in the county’s ‘Eat Out Eat Well’ scheme – the project managed by Environmental Health Northamptonshire which celebrates those eateries and catering companies that offer healthy and nutritious options on their menus – as well as the presentation of the ‘Chairman’s Award’, which is given in recognition of a particularly special contribution to the county’s food and drink sector.
The details of the 2018/19 competition were unveiled at the launch at Moulton College in Northampton (Thursday 8th March) – sponsor of the ‘Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year’ – by the Awards’ Director, Rachel Mallows MBE DL of The Mallows Company.
Rachel also underlined the competition’s continuing commitment to growth with the news that the winners of the all the categories will again go on to receive tailored mentoring from experts on the Awards Mentoring Board, while the winners of the product and drink categories will be submitted as entries into the Great Taste Awards 2018 at the Northamptonshire Awards’ cost.
In addition, guests learned of the considerable business benefit that success in the competition can bring from the joint winners of the 2017/18 One To Watch category – Ian Horton from Ganders Goat in Cottingham and John Evans from Towcester Mill Brewery.
As Ian revealed, not only was gaining finalist status invaluable, but so too was securing a winner’s logo: “As part of the judging process, we had the opportunity to take advantage of the considerable business expertise of the panel to whom we presented, and as a result, we had a complete rethink of our branding, which is now coming to fruition”.
“In addition, when taking our goat milk ice cream to potential stockists beyond the county, we found that the stamp of approval in being a Carlsberg UK award winner is something that rightfully commands respect and has really helped to open doors for us” he added.
Meanwhile John reiterated the value of the publicity that comes with being a finalist in the Awards, including helping the brewery in finding new customers, and he encouraged potential entrants to get involved: “I was quite sceptical in the early years but having now enjoyed the benefits which success can bring, I’d urge others to take advantage of it.
“You have nothing to lose and everything to gain!” he enthused.
After the formal proceedings, the sponsors, supporters, and reigning champions then enjoyed a site visit to Moulton College’s new £5m Food and Drink Innovation Centre which is due to open to students in September.
Despite being under construction, guests were given a fascinating insight into the centre which will provide a bespoke facility to meet the skills and development needs of the sector as well as offer access to a commercial food processing unit and specialist testing equipment.
The event concluded with a Northamptonshire lunch made up of tasty treats from the Awards’ former winners and finalists, including pies from The Moulton Pie Company, meats from Sauls of Spratton, chutney from Northampton’s Friar’s Farm, cheese from Hamm Tun Fine Foods, apple juice from Floyers’ Fruit Farm at Flore and tea from Northampton’s Tea Lab Company.
For more details on all of the categories in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2018/19, including to request entry forms, to make a nomination in the ‘Independent Café / Tea Room’, ‘Weetabix Local Food Hero’, and ‘F&B Achiever of the Year’ categories, or to recommend your favourite pub or restaurant, please contact Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Alternatively, entry, nomination and register of interest forms as well as the terms and conditions are available on the ‘Entry Forms’ page of the Awards website – www.northamptonshirefoodandddrink.co.uk