One day we’re going to look back on the pictures of this event in the apocalyptic heat of a climate change summer and say “wasn’t it a lovely day”.
In that far distant future, when it rains again and our skies are once more miserable and grey, we will forget about our parched mouths and how our bodies wept all over with perspiration. We will say it was a lovely day.
It’s similar to the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards itself. We were rightly acknowledging the outstanding achievements of those going above and beyond in the artisan produce sector of the awards at The Daily Bread Cooperative on Bedford Road, Northampton.
But underneath these sunshine stories, elevating them really, has been the chaotic nature of doing business in recent times. The extraordinary events. The fight for survival. In the midst of all that, finding the motivation to reach the greatest heights is an even more worthy achievement.
These delicious treats are in their way so much more than ‘lovely food and drink’. They represent a recognition that in troubled times, across our county the good guys are still out there doing their thing as best they can.
Master of ceremonies Rachel Mallows MBE said: “We are now in our 14th year. We started the competition in a recession to support the sector and we are proud to continue doing that.”
The celebration was being shared with The Daily Bread Cooperative which was marking 42 years of being in operation (a postponement of its 40th birthday which fell during the pandemic). The site now boasts a wholefood supermarket, a cafe which provides inclusive work opportunities for people with different needs, a studio and shop and a garden centre.
The Rev Kate Bottley officiated: “I take huge heart at the quality of the food and drink here today. While my boss only had a few loaves and fishes there is a lot more here, feeding the 5000 would have been a lot easier in Northampton.”
Artisan Local Vegetarian/Vegan Product of the Year 2022/23, sponsored by Daily Bread
Almond & Coconut Granola By Salma Shah
Cucumber & Dill Sauerkraut from Millie Pickles
Vegan Fizzy Blue Raspberry Bottles from The Sweet Lounge
Spiced Rhubarb Chutney from The Food Library
Tongue Taster from Northampton Cheese Company
Oinkin’ Patties from The Curious Vegan
Artisan Local Product of the Year 2022/23, sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed
Elderflower Sorbet from Your Cool
Garlic and Fennel Salami from Northampton Charcuterie Company
Tomato & Chilli Chutney from Green Kitchen Preserves
Blueberry & Lavender Jam from Mee Farmers
Northamptonshire Blue from Hamm Tun Fine Foods
White Sourdough from Whittlebury Bakery
Naked Dairy Gelato from Rocky’s Gelato
Artisan Local Drink of the Year 2022/23
Solstice Single Malt Whisky from Wharf Distillery
Heidrun session NEIPA from Three Hills Brewing
Oat Drink from Wild & Furrow
Blue Aurora English Blueberry Ice Wine from Lutton Farm
Lactodorum Towcester Gin from Wharf Distillery
Stonyfield English Quality Sparkling Wine 2018 Rose from Stonyfield Vineyard
Post pandemic, the organisers were thrilled to receive a higher number of entries than previous years and from a range of established and new businesses.
Awards director, Rachel Mallows, said: “We are once again thrilled to have the headline sponsorship of Weetabix, and category sponsorship from Daily Bread and Heygates Flour and Animal Feed in these artisan awards. On a very warm summer’s day, we presented a superb range of finalist produce and drink from some pretty amazing businesses. To have Kate help us with this was the icing on the cake!”
The judging involved a two stage tasting process with local and then external judges across a number of months. This year there was resounding support for the county’s producers with one second stage judge commenting that the ‘category products and drinks were world class; exceptional. Any county would be proud of all these products.’
Daily Bread member John Clarke said: “We had really wanted Kate to help us celebrate our 40th anniversary two years ago, but with the pandemic we had to cancel. We are over the moon to welcome her to Daily Bread with the Awards team and have her congratulations to us all, from what was started by a small group from Weston Favell Church. Daily Bread has a great selection of local producers in the shop and we know our customers love buying local.”
The remaining categories will be announced at the annual Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards ceremony, to be held on Wednesday, 12th October 2022 at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate. For more details of this year’s competition, or for tickets, please call Sophie Smith on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
Meanwhile you can also follow the Awards on Twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on Facebook at @foodawards or LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards using the hashtag #WFDA22.