BBC Radio 4 has announced the finalists for the Food and Farming Awards 2014 – including two Bristol-based businesses. For the first time in the 14 year history of the Awards, the line-up of finalists covers every part of the UK – from a seafood takeaway in South Wales to a hospice cook in Inverness; to a butchers shop in Wirral to a butter maker in Northern Ireland.
This year’s awards have also broken the record for public response with the highest number of entries ever being received.
Chair of this year’s judging panel, cook, writer and broadcaster Valentine Warner said: “The scale of the public’s response has been overwhelming. We’ve seen more than 6000 nominations this year; a truly record breaking number and when we started to read through, it was humbling. So many stories of food producers and retailers, caterers and markets – all so loved and valued by their customers and their communities, and in every part of the UK. If anyone thinks the food renaissance has been confined to a few select areas, this list of finalists is proof that they’re wrong”.
Host of the BBC Food and Farming Awards and presenter, Radio 4’s The Food Programme, Sheila Dillon added “What’s been striking this year is the number of nominations telling us about the work of young people and young businesses – from farmers working hard to engage directly with customers through to campaigners doing pioneering work on food waste as well as street-food cooks who are challenging the way we think about meat. Our list of finalists has it all”.
Each year the BBC Food & Farming Awards celebrate the people and organisations behind the best of British food. The finalists start off as a nomination sent in by a member of the public and then a team of judges, including some of the UK’s best known chefs and food writers, select finalists in each of the ten categories which include Best Food Market, Best Drinks Producer, Best Food Producer, and Best Street Food/Takeaway.
This year’s finalists will feature in a special edition of BBC Radio 4’s The Food Programme, broadcast on Sunday 9 March 2014. Winners will be announced at a ceremony held in Bristol on Thursday 1 May 2014.
Chef and writer Valentine Warner chairs this year’s panel of judges which includes farmer and Countryfile presenter Adam Henson, blogger Jack Monroe, food writer Charles Campion and chefs Raymond Blanc and Richard Corrigan.
Finalists in eight categories have now been announced. The winners of the remaining categories – The Derek Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award and the Food Personality of the Year Award – will be revealed at the Awards ceremony on 1 May.
The BBC Food & Farming Awards 2014 Finalists are:
Best Local Food Retailer
- The Courtyard Cheese Shop (Settle, North Yorkshire) : run by Andy and Kathy Swinscoe, this shop champions small British farmhouse cheese-makers. Drawing on an apprenticeship in affinage (cheese-maturing) in France, Andy is now regarded as one of the UK’s leading cheesemongers.
- Veasey Fishmonger (East Sussex): In a bid to increase access to fresh fish, fisherman Chris Veasey opened this shop in 2012 as a fishmongers and oyster bar. Most of what’s on offer is brought in by their own day boat which fishes between Eastbourne and Poole. The shop manager’s background as a chef adds an extra dimension to the specialist advice on offer.
- Edge & Son Butcher (Wirral): A 5th generation butchers that places great emphasis on the animal welfare, rare breeds and provenance. Rare among butchers these days Edge and Son have their own slaughterhouse, allowing them to work closely with farmers within a 25 mile radius of the shop. They also work with schools in the area, helping pupils to understand food production.
Cook of the Year
- Deborah Kerrmath (Manchester): Deborah heads up the catering for ‘The Food In Residence’, one of Manchester University’s catered halls of residence, serving two meals a day to more than 160 students. Deborah has worked in partnership with others organisations to create more opportunities for small scale farmers and growers in Manchester to sell their produce.
- Tony Mulgrew (Halifax): Tony’s drive and determination to produce the best food possible at Ravenscliffe High School has led him to become a major figure in the Soil Association’s Food for Life Partnership and to become one of the founders of Incredible Edible Todmorden. His approach to school menus and growing food in schools has attracted interest from around the world.
- Highland Hospice (Inverness): Led by cook Marion Irving, this team caters for patients and family members, providing care, support and understanding of how healthy food can make a difference during difficult times. Marion’s approach is to spend time with patients and then provide meals based around their emotional as well as nutritional needs.
Best Food Producer
- Capreolus Fine Foods (Dorset): A family owned artisan smokehouse that specialises in the production of cured, air dried and smoked meats and other charcuterie, using age-old traditional techniques. Goat salami, smoked leg of goat, smoked mutton and Dorset air dried beef are among the specialities.
- Abernethy Butter (Co Down, Northern Ireland): Abernethy make their butter by hand using traditional methods with cream bought from a local farmer, it’s then patted by hand out into rolls ready for wrapping. Now sought after by chefs around the UK it’s the only company in Northern Ireland making butter in this way.
- Gigha Halibut (Scotland): Based on the Scottish island of Gigha, the team specialise in the artisan production of sustainable Scottish Atlantic halibut which is smoked to order using oak chips made from whisky barrels from the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay. A technique of rearing the fish in land based tanks means wild stocks are protected and no antibiotics are required in the process.
Best Drinks Producer
- Gusbourne Estate (Kent): A more recent arrival on the English wine making scene, Gusbourne is a two hundred hectare estate with twenty hectares under vine cultivation with Chardonnay, Pinot Noir and Pinot Meunier grapes; they currently produce three sparkling wines.
- Thornbridge (Derbyshire): Considered one of the pioneers of the UK’s craft beer movement, the Thornbridge brewery was originally based in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall near Bakewell, Derbyshire. Its first beers went on sale in February 2005 and from developing IPA’s and blonde beers, they also added barrel aged editions.
- BrewDog (Scotland): Also an early force in the revival of craft brewing in the UK BrewDog was founded in 2007 by James Watt and Martin Dickie. They now produce more than 120,000 bottles per month for export including their Punk IPA and 5am Saint. They opened their first bar in nearby Aberdeen in 2010, and now have over 14 from Shoreditch to Sao Paulo.
Outstanding Farmer of the Year
- Luke Hasell (Bristol): Luke manages a farming enterprise close to Bristol of over 500 acres as well as The Story Group Ltd specialising in providing organic food direct to the public. He started The Community Farm which is a volunteer led operation educating people from Bristol and Bath about where their food comes from, traceability and food production.
- Neil Darwent (Frome): Neil has been a dairy farmer since 1986 and set up Free Range Dairy in 2011, a UK farmer-led initiative to promote the value of milk from pasture and has been building strategic partnerships with researchers and scientists to deliver new thinking and practical measures for dairy farmers.
- Steven Jack (Inverness): Steven specialises in carrot and potato growing, employing 40 staff and farming 200 hectares throughout Morayshire and Inverness-shire. Steven’s work on breeding techniques and improving quality has led to him winning a ‘M&S Farming for the Future Award’ for Scotland. He’s shown innovation in extending the growing season and helping to reduce our dependency on imports.
Best Food Market
- St Georges Market (Belfast): Built between 1890 and 1896, St Georges hosts weekly markets on Fridays, Saturdays and Sundays. From Armagh apple cider to locally caught fish the market is regarded as the place to go for those in search of local produce and northern Irish food traditions. Among its 230 stalls are nearly 30 fishmongers.
- Brockley Market (London): A weekly Saturday market featuring locally sourced produce, it has quickly established itself as one of the London’s leading showcases and outlets for artisan and small producers.
- Aberystwyth Farmers Market (Aberystwyth): Launched in May 2000, the market has up to 30 stalls every first and third Saturday in the month. In 2010 the market was voted amongst the Top 10 Farmers’ Market in the UK by the Times, the only Welsh market to be included.
Best Street Food/Takeaway
- Tongue ‘n’ Cheek (London): Using less popular meat or fish cuts, taking consideration of sustainably, diversity, food culture education and affordability, Tongue ‘n’ Cheek is famous for its Heartbreaker burger (made of 50% ox heart and 50% dry aged beef), and can be found in various London locations.
- Chilli Daddy (Bristol): Since 2011, Chilli Daddy have been providing authentic Szechuan dishes which are not available in ordinary Chinese takeaway shops or Chinese restaurants – all from family recipes.
- The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company (Pembrokeshire): Aiming to celebrate the produce of the area, combining foraged seashore ingredients with fresh local seafood, the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company have five mobile Beach Shacks offering signature local dishes.
Best Initiative in British Food
- Community Shop: A social supermarket offering surplus food to people on benefits at very low cost, along with advice and training, combining environmental, social and business objectives to tackle food waste, food poverty and getting people out of the poverty trap. Their first store already has 500 members.
- Feeding the 5,000 Food Waste Charity: All three campaigns – Feeding the 5,000, Gleaning Network and The Pig Idea are about big ideas and big action to change the supply chain in favour of low-waste food production and consumption.
- Sainsbury’s for its work on fish stocks. The retailer is being recognised for its leadership in sourcing fish on a large scale. Sainsbury’s has not only achieved top-grade sustainability credentials for wild-caught and farmed fish, but it is also working with Stirling University and the Marine Harvest Scotland initiative to use wrasse as an alternative and sustainable treatment for sea lice in salmon production.