A County Weighted In Platinum, Silver And Gold
Tears of joy and hearty clapping were on the menu at the Food & Drink Awards' ceremony which took place on Monday, 6th October at the Exeter Golf and Country Club. The high profile gathering saw the county's most prominent artisan food and drink producers anxiously wait to hear the announcement made by James Strawbridge, of ITV's Hungry Sailors fame, as to who would be named the 'Best Producer'. For the second year running, Tiverton based Partridge Farm Meats claimed this highly esteemed award.
The utterly outstanding and ever praised Gidleigh Park was named the 'Best Fine Dining Restaurant' and the 'Best Restaurant' category was won by The Millbrook Inn in South Pool where chef Jean-Philippe Bidart is renowned for his innovative style using the best of local produce. Other winners in the hospitality section of the awards included Plymouth's Dolphin House Brasserie walking away with 'Best Bistro', The Hart Inn in Hartland victorious as the 'Best Pub', the Sea Shanty Café in Branscombe topping the 'Best Café' list and the Ruby Modern Diner in Exeter the 'Best Takeaway'.
The NoBody Inn at Doddiscombleigh won the prestigious 'Outstanding Achievement' award for their exceptional ambiance and top class service.
The 'Best Retailer' award went to Ashburton Delicatessen, whilst the 'Best Online Retailer' was awarded to Eversfield Organic.
South Milton's Bell & Loxton fought off entries from 37 other producers to claim the 'Best Packaging' award for their seriously smart and immensely designer, silver bottles of Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil. Close runners up in this category included Devon Distillery's DAPPA, which is a relative newcomer to the county's drinks' scene and is Devon's answer to grappa, and the long-time favourite Burts Potato Chips.
During the judging of the 30 producers on the shortlist there were two particular products which really stood out amongst the crowd. Bulleigh Elms Farm's handmade fudge and Yonder Berries' innovative Blueberry and Chilli Jam received a flawless 100% score and were awarded Platinum awards.
Commenting on the standard of entries in this year's awards, Michael Smith, chairman of Food & Drink Devon since 2008, said: “There is absolutely no doubt that Devon is rich with some of the country's best producers and places to eat out. As a county we are leading the way in terms of innovation, pushing quality level boundaries and forging ahead with often unparalleled amounts of passion and expertise. This is coupled with a natural bounty which makes the otherwise impossible possible. Devon is blessed with good soil, stunning coast lines and a whole host of environmental advantages which help to set our produce apart.” Michael continued: “These awards not only recognise and reward the tireless hard work and commitment which plays a daily role in achieving the best, they also continue to position Devon firmly on the national and international map as a serious player in the food world.”
To win a Gold award, products had to score an almost faultless 90 – 99% and Silvers were only given out to those scoring 85 – 89%. Only 21 products won a Gold and 29 a Silver.
Local food advocate and owner of the Posh Pasty company, TV presenter James Strawbridge said: “Whilst filming Hungry Sailors in Devon I was fortunate enough to meet many local producers and spend time with them growing a deeper understanding of what they're doing to create their award-winning produce. It's fascinating as you see the care which goes into every aspect of the business. These products then go on to become the foundation of a great eating establishment, the local food and drink at the heart of the business.” James continued: “I'd like to personally congratulate each and every one of the award-winners for their dedication to the industry.”
Food & Drink Devon works tirelessly to increase the county's profile, both nationally and internationally. Food & Drink Devon - 'Love the Flavour' represents a membership of like-minded businesses, dedicated to providing good quality local food and drink. The Food & Drink Devon association is committed to continuously achieving its mission – to make 'Love the Flavour' a nationally recognised brand for outstanding sustainable food and drink.
Sponsors thrilled to offer their support for this year's awards include Stephens Scown Solicitors, The Venus Company, Luscombe Drinks, Hedgerow Print, RAW PR and Marketing, Warwick Corporate Events and taste buds.
For more information, please visit www.lovetheflavour.co.uk and follow @lovetheflavour on Twitter.