The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (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.
This category, sponsored by Burton Latimer-based cereal company Weetabix and staged in partnership with the Northamptonshire branch of the Campaign to Protect Rural England (CPRE), invited the public to nominate a person, business or organisation which they believed had done more in the last year to promote local food than any other.
The four finalists are (in alphabetical order):
Among the many new nominees for this year, Green Acres Rural Enterprise Centre at Staverton offers an alternative style of education to young people and their families, giving them the chance to learn about growing their own food, cooking healthy meals and how to make a living, all from a massive converted chicken shed and gardens set on a small former farm. Its Centre Manager, Heather Wilson, says she and her team are thrilled to have been recognised in this way; “We are all delighted at Green Acres not only to have been nominated but also to have reached the final of this award.
“We are always so busy cooking and gardening with our young people that we don't have time to tell everybody about how hard working they are and hopefully this will show how much we appreciate their efforts and help to raise the profile of our valuable work” added Heather.
Meanwhile, as last year’s runner-up, Waterloo Cottage Farm is hoping that they can go one better this year, as co-owner Kirsty Clarke revealed; “Last year’s nomination came completely out of the blue so to do so well and indeed to be shortlisted again this year is absolutely fantastic.
“Quite often small businesses like ours are so busy ’doing’ that our heads don’t come out of the daily chores but being involved in these awards has opened up a whole new support system and allowed us to see what is going on locally. So, thank you to the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards for helping to put us on the map!” she said.
This year the competition received a record number of more than hundred nominations from all corners of the county for everything from butchers and farm shops to chefs and brewers, presenting something of a challenge to the judging panel which included a former winner of the category, Sheena Harris of ‘Deffinitely Different’, the Development and Education Manager for Northamptonshire CPRE, Sally Hanrahan and Weetabix’s Head of Procurement Anthony Bowdidge; “Weetabix are delighted to be supporting this year’s awards by sponsoring the ‘Local Food Hero’ category because as a local company, we are very proud of our Northamptonshire roots and this presents us with the perfect opportunity to demonstrate our commitment to the county and the depth and prosperity of the sector” explained Anthony.
“The sheer number of those involved in this category alone highlights the huge effort of many individuals and businesses to promote and develop the food and drink sector within Northamptonshire and, with so many heroes out there, choosing a winner was extremely difficult! I am looking forward to celebrating their success at the awards dinner next month” he added.
Those were sentiments echoed by Sally; “I’ve been involved as a judge of this category since its inception and to watch the standard of nominations go up year after year is quite amazing” explained Sally.
“We have an incredible array of amazing people and businesses quietly going about their work and they deserve to be trumpeted, so on behalf of CPRE, may I offer our praise to all who were put forward and good luck to our four finalists whom I’d now encourage the county’s food lovers to seek out and support!” she enthused.
The finalists now have until Thursday 16th October to discover their fate when the winners and runners-up in all 16 categories of this year’s competition will be announced at the Awards Dinner taking place at Royal & Derngate in Northampton. To see who is vying for those other coveted titles, including ‘New Local Product of the Year’, ‘Booker Food Pub of the Year’ and ‘Chef of the Year’, and to help determine the winners of the ‘Community Pub of the Year’ categories by voting (by the closing date of Tuesday 30th September), please visit the Awards’ website - www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk You can also follow the Awards on twitter at @foodawardsHQ and on Facebook at www.facebook.com/foodwards
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