While 2020 remains a challenging year for the county’s culinary sector, some of its finest businesses are enjoying a well-earned reason to celebrate after walking away with the top accolades in this year’s Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.
The competition, now in its twelfth year, is run by the sector for the sector and is aimed at publicly applauding 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 Awards year usually culminates in a glittering celebration staged at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate but, owing to social distancing rules, the results of half of the categories were instead announced as part of a recorded, online ‘first course’ event, generously hosted by the theatre, with those of the categories in the hospitality sector to be revealed in the ‘second course’ at a later date, once lockdown restrictions have been lifted.
Among those now celebrating is double-Gold and Silver winner Nakasero from Northampton, whose Giardiniera – a spicy Italian relish of pickled vegetables – bowled over the judges in both the Artisan Local Product and Artisan Local Vegetarian/Vegan Product of the Year categories.
Founder of the company, Gita Rakundalia, says she’s thrilled to pick up such prestigious accolades
“It’s been incredible, watching my vision for the pickle come to life, go into production and then to be sold on farm shop and supermarket shelves in such a short space of time and I’m absolutely elated to be recognised in this way among what are some incredible producers in the county,” said Gita.
“Tonight I am going to toast all of them, as well as those who have helped and supported me on my journey so far, while I also dedicate this success to my late grandmother, my beloved Baa, who taught me everything I know.”
Meanwhile, Farrington Oils at Hargrave becomes the first recipient of a Gold in the newly-instigated Weetabix Sustainability Award, much to the delight of its co-owner Duncan Farrington, who said: “We were incredibly proud that our cold-pressed rapeseed oil, Mellow Yellow, was the world’s first food product to be certified as both carbon and plastic neutral back in January, so what a way to bookend 2020 than by being honoured in this way in our home county.
“We’re a small village firm of only 15 people but, like breakfast giant Weetabix, we are leaders in our brand as well as in national and global sustainability and I truly believe that, by working together to change our habits, we can all make a difference.”
The online celebration began with a welcome from Awards Patron, William Sitwell, who spoke of the remarkable resilience shown by the sector over the last six months and, despite those challenges, of its impressive ability to continue to produce some of the finest food that the country has to offer.
Those sentiments were then echoed by Weetabix Marketing Director, Francesca Theokli, who congratulated all those finalists involved in the competition and revealed the breakfast giant’s pride in playing its part in offering deserved recognition to the extraordinary entrepreneurial spirit, care, endurance and passion which each has displayed during the toughest of years.
Additionally, in a move prompted by a desire to reward some of the many businesses within the sector who have shown incredible efforts during the pandemic, there was a further surprise announcement by the Lord-Lieutenant for Northamptonshire, James Saunders-Watson, of five Gold recipients of the COVID-19 Local Hero of the Year, recognising those who have played, and continue to play, such a vital role in supporting their local communities.
The broadcast concluded with closing remarks from Awards Director, Rachel Mallows MBE DL, who not only offered her further congratulations to the Awards recipients but also thanked those who enabled the competition to proceed at a time when their support was needed more than ever.
“Given the further pressures that every business has faced over recent months, we are all the more grateful that our sponsors re-pledged their commitment, enabling us to yet again celebrate our fabulous food and drink sector, albeit in a slightly different way this year,” said Rachel.
“We know how vital the impact of success in these annual accolades is, and so to be able to publicly promote those who excel and then encourage the county’s food lovers to go out and support them has been imperative for 2020.
“I now cannot wait for our second course of Awards, when we’ll be revealing the results in our remaining categories, after which I hope we’ll be able to finally go out and celebrate together – safely of course.”
Owing to Lockdown 2, the results of the remaining categories in the hospitality sector will be announced at the second course of the virtual online Awards celebration at a later date, following the end of restrictions. Those categories are:
- Booker Dining Venue of the Year (sponsored by Booker)
- Booker Young Chef of the Year (sponsored by Booker)
- Chef of the Year (sponsored by Dawn Farms)
- Food and Drink College Student of the Year (sponsored by Moulton College)
- Local Food Hero of the Year (sponsored by Northampton College)
- World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year (sponsored by British Pepper & Spice)
For the full list of the first course results and of the remaining category finalists, or for more information on the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2020/21, visit www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk or call Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or email firstname.lastname@example.org
To watch the video of the first course, visit www.youtube.com and search for #WNFAD20.
Meanwhile for further details on how you can join the second course of the virtual Awards celebration when they are announced, follow the Awards on Facebook at @foodawards or Twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards