After much anticipation and a great deal of excitement, the winners of the 17 categories in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2014/15 are finally celebrating being named the best of the county’s best.
The competition, devised by NEP, is now in its sixth year and is again 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 results were announced at a glittering Awards Dinner on 16th October, staged at Royal & Derngate in Northampton and watched by the evening’s special guest, Michelin-starred chef Jason Atherton. Those were (in presentation order):
Community Pub of the Year – Town (sponsored by Pidy UK)
Winner: The Malt Shovel Tavern, Northampton
Runner-up: The Golden Horse, Northampton
Community Pub of the Year – Rural (sponsored by Pidy UK)
Winner: The Sun Inn, Hardingstone
Runner-up: The Sun Inn, Kislingbury
Young Chef of the Year (sponsored by Booker)
Winner: Tom Croxford from Thrapston
Runner-up: Sophie Fountain of Brasserie 23 at The Kings Head, Spratton
Chef of the Year
Winner: Carl Long – formerly of Oundle Mill, Oundle
Runners-up: James Ingram of Mercedes AMG, Brixworth
and: Harvey Lockwood of Murrays at Whittlebury Hall, Whittlebury
F&B Entrepreneur of the Year (sponsored by Steven Saunders VIP Hospitality)
Winner: Tom Hewer of Tom Hewer Enterprises, Northampton
Runner-up: Alaric Neville of Phipps NBC, Northampton
Local Food Hero of the Year (sponsored by Weetabix)
Winner: Waterloo Cottage Farm, Great Oxendon
Runners-up: Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Northampton
and: Squisito Butchers and Provisions, Yelvertoft
Healthy Eating Workplace of the Year - Private Sector (sponsored by Northamptonshire County Council)
Winner: Avon Cosmetics, Northampton
Runner-up: Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, Brixworth
Healthy Eating Workplace of the Year - Health & Education (sponsored by Northamptonshire County Council)
Winner: Corby Business Academy, Corby
Runner-up: Kettering General Hospital NHS Foundation Trust, Kettering
Spice Restaurant of the Year (sponsored by British Pepper & Spice)
Winner: Exotic Dining, Kettering
Runners-up: Bengal Brasserie, Thrapston
and: The Raj, Kettering
Booker Food Pub of the Year (sponsored by Booker)
Winner: The Walnut Tree Inn, Blisworth
Runner-up: The Hopping Hare, Northampton
Restaurant of the Year (sponsored by Whitco)
Winner: Brasserie 23 at The Kings Head, Spratton
Runner-up: Franks Steakhouse, Northampton
Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year (sponsored by Explore Communications)
Winner: Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom, Wellingborough
Runner-up: Dreams Coffee Lounge, Northampton
New Local Product of the Year (Whitworth Bros. Ltd)
Winner: Cobblers Nibble – Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Northampton
Runner-up: Incredible Onion and Seeds Loaf – Incredible Bakery Company, Warkton
New Local Drink of the Year
Winner: Rose Hill - Vale of Welton Cider, Welton
Runner-up: Big Bang Theory – Nene Valley Brewery, Oundle
Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year (Sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)
Winner: Brixworth Pâté – Brixworth Foods, Brixworth
Runner-up: Potato, Leek and Stilton Pie – The Moulton Pie Company, Moulton
Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year (sponsored by Moulton College)
Winner: Honeyed Damson Preserve – Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston
Runner-up: Dark Chocolate with Chilli – Belflair Chocolates, Brackley
Artisan Local Drink of the Year
Winner: Harrington Sloe Gin – Warner Edwards Distillery, Harrington
Runner-up: Booze Hound – Gun Dog Ales, Woodford Halse
Jason, who as Patron of the Nicholls Spinal Injury Foundation, kindly donated his appearance fee to aid the charity in its funding of research into finding a cure for spinal injury, revealed how impressed he was to have watched the competition go from strength to strength over recent years: “I had the pleasure of being at the dinner in 2010 and it’s quite incredible to see how the awards have grown in stature and the prestige that they now command.
“It’s been amazing to come back to Northamptonshire and to witness firsthand the passion that the county’s producers, restaurant owners, chefs and all those here tonight have for the work that they do and I can only say well done to them all. They should feel very proud!” he added.
Among the victors was Ria Chambers from Ria’s Rosy Lee Tearoom in Wellingborough which was named ‘Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year’ after she impressed the panel of judges at a Great British Bake Off-style cook-off against five other cafés at Northampton College; “I just couldn’t believe it when our name was announced,” explained Ria “and I was really shaking as I made my way up to the stage to collect my award from Jason.
"Whole competition...just been amazing"
“The experience of the whole competition has just been amazing and winning has topped it all so I really hope that there’ll be lots of new customers wanting to come in to enjoy our wonderful home-baked treats and join our celebrations!” she giggled.
Meanwhile the night brought double success for staff at Brasserie 23 at The Kings Head, Spratton with the venue itself not only winning the title of ‘Restaurant of the Year’ but its 19 year old chef Sophie Fountain being named runner-up in the ‘Young Chef of the Year’ category for the second year running.
The pub is owned by two couples, Katie and Duncan Kennedy and Natalie and Daniel Tompkins, the latter couple being manageress and chef respectively and to whom Katie paid her tribute; “Natalie and Daniel have worked tirelessly over the last year to create the perfect dining venue with everything from a great atmosphere and wonderful service to delicious food, all cooked on site using fresh, local ingredients” she enthused.
“With Sophie also doing so well again, the whole team is feeling really chuffed and we shall certainly be displaying our trophy and certificates with great pride!” she added.
The winners were each presented with a ceramic plate, beautifully created and hand-painted by Rob Bibby of Woodnewton Pottery, and those presentations were made by Jason and the categories’ respective sponsors as well as Awards Patrons William Sitwell and Steven Saunders from Steven Saunders VIP Hospitality.
It was Steven’s Executive Chef, Lee Scott, who prepared a wonderful three course menu for the guests made up of entrants, judges, sponsors, media partners and supporters. They were treated to a starter of heritage beetroot with goat cheese from finalist NeneView Dairy at Stanwick, main course of beef provided by Booker and a chocolate delice for dessert, the chocolate coming from finalist Belflair Chocolates in Brackley and served with salted caramel ice cream from Gallones in Northampton.
"A fantastic celebration"
Guests were welcomed to the event by the competition’s Director, Rachel Mallows of The Mallows Company and Jo Lappin, NEP Chief Executive, who outlined the importance of the food and drink sector to Northamptonshire’s economy and thanked all of those involved in supporting the event to make it such a fantastic celebration of the county’s food and drink industry: “Tonight is a celebration of everything that is fabulous about Northamptonshire’s food and drink sector industry – its vibrancy, creativity and sheer breadth of operations.
"The industry is worth £1.5 billion to our economy and employs some 46,000 people across Northamptonshire, bucking national trends by actually growing jobs over the past few years.
"It is therefore an absolute privilege to be here this evening to recognise the leading lights in the industry who make the sector such a success. The Awards have gone from strength to strength, with this year seeing a record number of nominations and entries from across Northamptonshire.
“NEP has sponsored these awards since 2009, and I am delighted that they continue to play such an important role in a sector of which Northamptonshire should be extremely proud,” she added.
For more details, please visit the Awards’ website - www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk
Meanwhile to watch the videos of the two chefs cook-offs, and the bake-off in the Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year category, please clink on the respective links:
Chef of the Year:
Young Chef of the Year:
Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year:
If you are an organisation, business or individual interested in taking part in, or supporting, next year’s Awards, please contact Rachel at The Mallows Company on 01933 664437.
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