After much anticipation and a great deal of excitement, the winners in the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2022/23 are finally celebrating being named the best of the best in the county.
The competition, now in its fourteenth year, received hundreds of nominations and applications across 15 categories, from a diverse range of ambitious and driven individuals and businesses who make up the fabric of Northamptonshire’s food and drink sector. The awards are aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues, producers and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.
The results were announced at a dazzling awards dinner at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate in October. The evening began with formal welcomes from Awards Director, Rachel Mallows MBE DL of The Mallows Company, Jo Gordon from Royal & Derngate and Stuart Branch of headline sponsors Weetabix before guests enjoyed a three-course meal designed by Portfolio Events.
Befitting a celebration of the excellence of the county’s food and drink sector, the menu included a wealth of Northamptonshire ingredients, including Green Kitchen Preserves Tomato and Chilli Chutney, Whittlebury Bakery White Sourdough Crisp, Hamm Tun Fine Foods and the Northampton Cheese Company’s cheeses, The Food Library’s Spiced Rhubarb Chutney and Mee Farmers’ Blueberry and Lavender Jam. The main course was a roast rib of Booker’s Black Gate Signature Beef.
The winners of all the categories were presented with trophies by the evening’s special guest presenter and journalist Helen Fospero – best known for her presenting role on shows such as GMTV, Daybreak and Lorraine –who for the second year was the Master of Ceremonies.
Restaurant Ember in Wellingborough, one of four Gold Award winners of the Booker Dining Venue of the Year was praised by judges for its fun and creative delicious barbecue tapas menu. James Peck, Head Chef and Owner said: “It means so much to have been recognised for this award having only been open for three months, we are very humbled and excited for the future.” It was a stellar evening for Restaurant Ember as Hannah Dunne took one of the two Gold Awards in the Booker Young Chef of the Year.
The awards are generously supported and sponsored by major food and drinks businesses based in the county including headline sponsor, Weetabix.
Stuart Branch, Chief People and Digital Officer for Weetabix, said: “Sustainability is in our DNA and so we are particularly proud to spearhead the Weetabix Sustainability Award category, now in its third year, because it’s an area that is so important to our communities and to us as a business based within the county.
“We are immensely proud to support the awards process with year-long backing to ensure that those who are declared Gold, Silver and Bronze winners in each category receive the recognition they deserve as well as mentoring and guidance. This year is particularly exciting as we celebrate our Weetabix Growers’ Group – farmers who provide the wheat that our Weetabix Original is made from. This is a new category and I am very proud that we are able to shine a light on those farmers who are doing a brilliant job to improve our countryside environment.”
Chairman of the Whitworth Brothers Board of Directors and President of UK Flour Millers announced the winners of the One to Watch category. The Flavour Trailer took home Gold, and said: “We felt like winners just coming here this evening. The competition was incredible so we are just stunned. Our goal was to make incredible burgers and the fact that it has brought us here is incredible!”
A surprise award – sponsored by All Things Business – The Outstanding Contribution to Food and Drink in Northamptonshire, an accolade for someone who has made a significant contribution to the sector, was won by Colin Richardson from The Richardson Group, someone who has, over the years, played a remarkable role in taking on iconic venues and transforming them to become both award winning and popular with the public.
The Gold Award winners are as follows:
Artisan Local Drink of the Year
Blue Aurora, English Blueberry Ice Wine
Stonyfield English Quality Sparkling Wine, Rosé
Lactodorum Towcester Gin, Wharf Distillery
Artisan Local Product of the Year
(sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)
Naked Dairy Gelato, Rocky’s Gelato
Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year
(sponsored by Daily Bread)
Oinkin’ Pattie, The Curious Vegan Co.
Booker Dining Venue of the Year
(sponsored by Booker)
Electric Pavilion, Northampton
Hibiscus Fine Dining, Northampton
Restaurant Ember, Wellingborough
The Snooty Fox, Lowick
Booker Young Chef of the Year
(sponsored by Booker)
Hannah Dunne, Restaurant Ember
Shawn Monk, The Falcon Inn, Fotheringhay
Community Café of the Year
(supported by The Good Loaf)
Saints Coffee, Northampton
Farming Environment Award
(sponsored by Weetabix Growers Group)
Phillip Johnson & Daughters, Rectory Farm
F&B Achiever of the Year
(sponsored by Howes Percival LLP)
Andy Collins, Whittlebury Bakery
Food and Drink College Student of the Year
Bilal Ismail, Northampton College
Tia ‘Echo’ Morris, Northampton College
Healthy Food and Wellbeing Award
(sponsored by Delapré Abbey)
Cucumber & Dill Sauerkraut, Millie Pickles
Mercedes AMG HPP
Local Food Hero of the Year
(sponsored by Moulton College)
Towcester Community Larder
One To Watch
(sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers)
The Flavour Trailer
Weetabix Sustainability Award
(sponsored by Weetabix)
Whitco Chef of the Year
(sponsored by Whitco)
Bart Polinski, Hibiscus Fine Dining
World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year
(sponsored by British Pepper & Spice)
Alacati Grill, Daventry
Mewar Haveli, Northampton
Outstanding Contribution to Food and Drink in Northamptonshire Award
(sponsored by All Things Business)