If ever you needed confirmation that the county’s food and drink sector is flourishing, writes Anna Murby, look no further than the record number of those producers vying to take the latest prestigious titles in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards!
The competition, now in its eleventh 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 recent shortlisting of the ‘New Local Drink’ and ‘Artisan Local Drink’ categories, staged at Barratt’s Club in Northampton, as reigning ‘Community Pub of the Year’, saw a panel of judges come together to sample their way through the competition’s largest number and widest variety of tipples – everything from beers to ciders, spirits to juices. They included Jon Elks, Master Brewer at headline sponsor Carlsberg UK, CAMRA’s Company Secretary, Ken Owst, and Tina Keogh-Warner and Tom Warner, co-founders of the internationally award-winning craft gin distillers and the categories’ sponsor, Warner’s.
Indeed, with standards so high, the judges were simply unable to reduce their selection to the usual shortlists of just 4 to 6, with the resulting finalists being (in alphabetical order within the category):
Artisan Local Drink of the Year:
Bad Bitch – Bad Boy Cider, Pipewell
Black Star – Phipps NBC, Northampton
Cheeky Charlie – Healy’s of Winwick, Winwick
Classic IPA – Silverstone Real Ale, Syresham
Stonyfield Rosé – Painter’s Vineyard, Blisworth
Sundance American Amber Ale – Boot Town Brewery, Burton Latimer
Triple ‘F’ Medley – Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore
New Local Drink of the Year:
Frutas Do Bosque Catharina Sour – Boot Town Brewery, Burton Latimer
Kinky Boots – Phipps NBC, Northampton
Mulled Cider – Healy’s of Winwick, Winwick
Organic Elderflower Vodka – Jelley Distilleries Organic Vodka, Brixworth
Roly’s Ginger Beer – Manor Farm Drinks, Hardwick
Strawberry & Lime Cider – Bad Boy Cider, Pipewell
Triple ‘F’ Mr. Pippin – Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore
Xachoh Blend No. 7 – Xachoh, Silverstone
Meanwhile with a twenty percent increase in the number of entries, those at the second stage judging of the three equally hotly-contested product categories, held at Holdenby House, faced just as difficult a task. They included former cookery school owner and Awards Patron Mary Laing, chef Gavin Austin, who fed the England Lionesses on their way to World Cup semi-final glory in France earlier this summer and Vanessa Brown, who is Head of Business and Catering Services at the Vegetarian Society as well as representatives of each of the category sponsors, Heygates Flour and Animal Feed, Moulton College and Daily Bread. The finalists are (again in alphabetical order within the category):
Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year (sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed):
Cobblers Nibble – Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Hannington
Evergreen Chutney – Evergreen Art Café, Daventry
Little Bertie – Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Hannington
Olive and Spinach Bread – Whittlebury Bakery, Whittlebury
Steak and Ale Pie – Butler’s Pie Company, Brackley
Togglers – Neneview Dairy, Stanwick
Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year (sponsored by Moulton College):
Honey, Orange & Whisky Marmalade – Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston
Raspberry Fruity Chocolate – Belflair Chocolates, Brackley
Strawberry Jam – Green Kitchen Preserves, Northampton
Whittlebury Bun – Whittlebury Bakery, Whittlebury
Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year (sponsored by Daily Bread):
Chocolate & Cherry Cake with Coconut Cream (vgn) – Sol Laug Havens CIC, Moulton
Cocoa Caramel Popcorn (vgn) – What’s Poppin’, Northampton
Creamy Leek and Mushroom Pie (vgn) – Butler’s Pie Company, Brackley
Savoury Crumble Pie (vgn) – The Moulton Pie Company, Moulton
Stanwick Blue (vgt) – Neneview Dairy, Stanwick
Sweet Potato, Spinach & Tomato Pie (vgn) – Sol Laug Havens CIC, Moulton
Zucchini and Walnut Cake (vgn) – SophistiCake Creations, Northampton
Among those to be celebrating are David and Kathryn Butler from Butler’s Pie Company in Brackley who, as first time entrants into the competition, are thrilled to have pies in the shortlists of both of the categories they entered: “As a small, family run business we are extremely proud, overjoyed and amazed at being double finalists in this prestigious competition and find it really humbling to know that all of the hard work that goes into producing our high quality products paid off with the judges” said Kathryn.
“Entering the Awards has definitely raised our business’s profile so we’re excited for the future and are now keeping everything crossed that one if not both pies go on to take their respective titles!” she added.
The finalists in all five product and drink categories now have until Thursday 14th November to discover their fate, when the winners and runners-up in all the categories of this year’s Awards will be announced at the Awards Dinner taking place at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate. Tickets are now available at £120 (plus VAT) or £1,320 (plus VAT) for a table of 12.
For more details of this year’s competition, or for tickets, please call Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org or visit the Awards’ website at www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk
Meanwhile you can also follow the Awards on Twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at facebook.com/foodawards