The institution that is Northamptonshire’s Weetabix Food and Drink Awards works all year round and judging has already taken place in a range of categories.
In the past judges have been sworn to secrecy until the gala awards night in the autumn but the coronavirus pandemic has put a slightly different focus on things.
The public has a renewed interest in good quality local produce and to enable the Weetabix Award Winners to get maximum exposure from their awards the results were released early at the Rockingham Food and Drink Fair over the weekend.
Rounding the whole story up, the WFDA released the following statement:
This year the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drinks Awards will be recognising food and drink businesses from around the county with two announcements culminating in the annual awards ceremony held in October.
Awards founder Rachel Mallows explains ‘We want to be able to celebrate successful food and drink producers throughout the year, providing a platform for finalists to champion their achievements at major events, food festivals and to their customer base’. The pandemic has created an opportunity for independent businesses to harness the buy local message and the Awards help to shine a light on those doing great things’.
The first of the category award winners were announced at Rockingham Castle during the Rockingham Food and Drink Fair on 17th July, which gave the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards boosted exposure amongst the general public as well as an array of local, regional and national businesses.
The Finalists were:
Picklish – Bite Me Spices
Blueberry Jam – Friars Farm
Salted Caramel Ice Cream – Ganders Goat
Northamptonshire Blue – Hamm Tun Fine Foods
Jeyes’s Northamptonshire Sauce – Jeyes of Earls Barton
Mango Caramel Popcorn – What’s Poppin’
Mushroom Biriyani – Bite Me Spices
Chilli Jam – Friars Farm
Little Bertie – Hamm Tun Fine Foods
Pecan, Pumpkin and Cranberry Cake – Sophisticake Creations
Vegan Sausage Roll – Whittlebury Bakery
Infusion Set – Jelley’s Vodka and Tea Lab
Black Cherry and Vanilla Rum – New Town
Solar Star – Phipps NBC
Pilsner – Silverstone Brewery
Steam Ale – Towcester Mill Brewery
Silson Gin – Wharf Distillery
The judges had a tough job in shortlisting category finalists as well as awarding the coveted gold, silver and bronze placings. Susanna Booth, food journalist, cookery writer and Patron of the Awards said ’Once again it was wonderful to see the passion in Northamptonshire for food made with the highest standards of care and attention, which has endured despite all the upheaval of the past 18 months.’
Weetabix Marketing Director, Francesca Theokli commented that ‘We are delighted and immensely proud to be headline sponsors once again during the 13th year of the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink awards. The competition demonstrates the innovation, talent and creativity we have amongst the Food and Drinks community across Northamptonshire’.
The final results, announced by radio presenter John Griff and the Lord-Lieutenant of Northamptonshire James Saunders Watson, are (in presentation order and, in the case of more than one recipient of the Gold, Silver or Bronze, in alphabetical order):
Artisan Local Drink of the Year
GOLD = Steam Ale – Towcester Mill Brewery
SILVER = Silson Gin – Wharf Distillery
BRONZE = Infusion Set – Jelley’s Vodka and Tea Lab
BRONZE = Black Cherry and Vanilla Rum – New Town
BRONZE = Solar Star – Phipps NBC
BRONZE = Pilsner – Silverstone Brewery
Artisan Local Product of the Year (Sponsored by Heygates)
GOLD = Blueberry Jam – Friars Farm
GOLD = Jeyes’s Northamptonshire Sauce – Jeyes of Earls Barton
SILVER = Salted Caramel Ice Cream – Ganders Goat
SILVER = Northamptonshire Blue – Hamm Tun Fine Foods
BRONZE = Mango Caramel Popcorn – What’s Poppin’
BRONZE = Picklish – Bite Me Spices
Artisan Local Vegetarian/Vegan Product of the Year (Sponsored by Daily Bread)
GOLD = Pecan, Pumpkin and Cranberry Cake – Sophisticake Creations
SILVER = Little Bertie – Hamm Tun Fine Foods
SILVER = Vegan Sausage Roll – Whittlebury Bakery
BRONZE = Mushroom Biriyani – Bite Me Spices
BRONZE = Chilli Jam – Friars Farm
John Evans, Director of the Towcester Mill Brewery, who was presented with a Gold award in the Artisan local drink of the year category for his Steam Ale commented ‘The award has given us an extra boost to our business’. ‘We can now look forward to brighter days, producing a top quality product now we are back open for business following the pandemic.
Meanwhile Steve Reid owner of Friars Farm and Jeyes of Earls Barton scooped an array of awards including two Gold in the Artisan Local Product of the Year for his Blueberry jam and Jeyes Northamptonshire sauce. Steve commented ‘I’m over the moon’. ‘These awards put fire in my belly whilst providing recognition, which helps to raise the profile of my current products as well as our new ventures Northampton Charcuterie and Northampton Cheese Company’.
An emotional and heartfelt Gold award win was picked up by Mindy Robinson, founder of Sophisticake Creations for her pecan, pumpkin and cranberry cake in the local vegetarian / vegan product of the year. Mindy said ‘I was up against incredible competition and feel very humbled’. ‘The award gives me the reassurance and feedback that all the hard work and long hours I have put in to building my business is paying off’.
For the full list of the results across the first three categories in this year’s competition, or for more information on the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2021/22, please visit www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk or call Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile, to keep up to date with the latest news, please follow the Awards on Facebook at @foodawards or Twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards using the hashtag #WFDA21.