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Saturday Kitchen’s Olly Smith leads the cheers at Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards

After much anticipation and a great deal of excitement, the winners in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2019/20 are finally celebrating being named the best of the county’s best, writes Anna Murby.

The competition, now in its eleventh year, is aimed at publicly applauding 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 (Thursday 14th 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 (sponsored by Warner’s Distillery):

Winner: Black Star – Phipps NBC, Northampton

Runner-up: Triple ‘F’ Medley – Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore

Highly Commended: Cheeky Charlie – Healy’s of Winwick, Winwick

New Local Drink of the Year (sponsored by Warner’s Distillery):

Winner: Frutas Do Bosque Catharina Sour – Boot Town Brewery, Burton Latimer

Runner-up: Triple ‘F’ Mr Pippin – Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore

Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year (sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)

Winner: Little Bertie – Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Hannington

Runner-up: Evergreen Chutney – Evergreen Art Café, Daventry

Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year (sponsored by Moulton College):

Winner: Fruity Raspberry Chocolate – Belflair Chocolates, Brackley

Runner-up: Honey, Orange & Whisky Marmalade – Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston 

Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year (sponsored by Daily Bread):

Winner: Zucchini and Walnut Cake – SophistiCake Creations, Northampton 

Runner-up: Chocolate & Cherry Cake with Coconut Cream – Sol Laug Havens CIC, Moulton

Runner-up: Savoury Crumble Pie – The Moulton Pie Company, Moulton

One To Watch (sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers):

Winner: Xachoh, Silverstone

Runner-up: What’s Poppin’, Northampton

Shena Cooper
Cheryl Thallon

F&B Achiever of the Year (sponsored by Howes Percival LLP): 

Winner: Shena Cooper – Fruitful Abundance, Crick

Winner: Cheryl Thallon – Viridian Nutrition, Daventry   

Booker Young Chef of the Year (sponsored by Booker):

Winner: Jack Matthews – The White Horse, Kings Sutton

Runner-up: Kenny Markham – KDR Events, Northampton

Weetabix Local Food Hero of the Year (sponsored by Weetabix):

Winner: Up The Field, Little Irchester

Runner-up: Shop Zer0, Northampton

Runner-up: Steve Reid – Friars Farm, Northampton 

Chef of the Year (sponsored by Dawn Farms and Route 1 express couriers)

Winner: Danny Tompkins – Danny Tompkins Chef, Harlestone

Runner-up: Seamus Bryans – Freelance Chef, Irchester

Runner-up: James Peck – Burnt Lemon Catering, Northampton

Community Pub of the Year (sponsored by Carlsberg UK):

Winner: The Red Lion, Thornby

Runner-up: The Lamplighter, Northampton

World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (sponsored by British Pepper & Spice):

Winner: Jynja Jynja, Northampton 

Runner-up: Truva Charcoal Grill & Bar, Towcester

Booker Food Pub of the Year (sponsored by Booker):

Winner: The Plough, Shutlanger

Winner: The Red Lion, Cranford

Runner-up: The Red Lion, East Haddon


Restaurant of the Year (sponsored by Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment):

Winner: Murrays at Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury

Winner: Tresham Restaurant at Rushton Hall, Rushton

Runner-up: The Hopping Hare, Northampton

Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year (sponsored by Pidy UK):

Winner: Ten Hands Café Bar, Towcester
Runner-up: Evergreen Art Café, Daventry

Great Service Award (sponsored by Northampton College):

Winner: The Apothocoffee Shop, Earls Barton

Runner-up: Nuovo, Northampton

Dining For All Award (supported by NAB – Sight Support for Northamptonshire):

Winner: Nuovo, Northampton

Runner-up: The Red Lion, Cranford

The winners of all the categories were presented with a specially-commissioned trophy, designed by New Cottage Creative of Little Brington, by the evening’s special guest, multi award-winning wine expert and Saturday Kitchen star Olly Smith, who was clearly bowled over by the whole experience; “I’m absolutely amazed by the passion, creativity, dedication and talent that I’ve witnessed here tonight and it’s been an absolute privilege to be part of such a magnificent and amazing celebration of Northamptonshire” said Olly.

“In food and drink terms, the county has been a hidden gem, but the last decade or so of these awards just goes to prove what you can achieve when everyone pulls together and supports each other and I shall certainly be doing my bit to try to raise its profile and give it the glory it deserves!” he enthused.

Receiving the last trophy of the night – which was introduced with the support of the charity NAB – Sight Support for Northamptonshire and designed to recognise those eateries which ensure a pleasurable dining experience for those with sensory impairments for whom dining out can be more challenging – was Stewart Wright of Nuovo in Northampton, who explained what winning the competition’s newest award meant to him and his team; “We were delighted that, having been named runner-up in the ‘Great Service Award’ category, we were then announced as the winner of the ‘Dining For All Award’, because we absolutely pride ourselves in making sure that everyone who dines with us not only enjoys fabulous food but also receives the best possible care and attention and this accolade just backs that up” explained Stewart.

“It’s also got us thinking very carefully about all the elements on offer at the restaurant and I guess that’s why this competition has made such a difference because it’s making everyone strive to be better and is driving up standards in the process – which has to be great for us all!” he added.

The evening began with formal welcomes from Awards Director, Rachel Mallows MBE DL of The Mallows Company, Jo Gordon from Royal & Derngate and Bruce Ray, VP Global Government Relations and UK Corporate Affairs at headline sponsors, Carlsberg UK, before guests then enjoyed a sumptuous three course meal designed and created by Lee Scott, Business Development Chef at Wellingborough-based Billington Foodservice, and aided by a team of culinary students from Northampton College. 

Check out our coverage from the awards night

Befitting a celebration of the excellence of the county’s food and drink sector, the menu included a wealth of Northamptonshire ingredients, including a starter of meats from Waterloo Cottage Farm at Great Oxendon served with potted beef from Sauls of Spratton, cheeses from Hamm Tun Fine Foods at Hannington and Stanwick’s Neneview Dairy, chutney from Friars Farm in Northampton and breads from Moulton College and the Incredible Bakery Company at Warkton.

The main course was a steak and ale pie using Black Gate beef from category sponsor Booker and Black Star from Northampton’s Phipps NBC, while the local offering also continued into the dessert, which was a twist on a marmalade bread and butter pudding, made using Whittlebury Buns from Whittlebury Bakery, marmalade from Nature’s Fayre at Thrapston and white chocolate from Corby’s Seed and Bean, served with a white chocolate and blackberry ripple ice cream from Cottingham’s Ganders Goat and a dessert wine generously provided by Amps Wine Merchants of Oundle.

The culinary offering concluded with petits fours from Belflair Chocolates of Brackley, who’d proudly received their ‘Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year’ trophy earlier in the evening, and tea courtesy of the Nothampton’s Tea Lab Company.  

As well as revealing the results of the 17 categories, there was also a special presentation to the Lord-Lieutenant for Northamptonshire, David Laing, in recognition of his generous support of the county’s food and drink sector, as he prepares to step down from the role of HM The Queen’s representative in the county next year. 

For more information about the competition, including the chance to watch the videos of the cook-offs in the two chefs categories, please visit the Awards’ website at www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk or contact Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email rachel@themallowscompany.com 

You can also follow the Awards on twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at facebook.com/foodawards

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