EADT Suffolk Food & Drink Awards 2015 - the cream of the crop
PUBLISHED: 10:00 12 May 2015 | UPDATED: 12:55 12 May 2015
The finest of the county's food and drink industry gathered to see the winners crowned at a celebration lunch
After a two-year gap, the EADT Suffolk Food and Drink Awards, sponsored by Adnams and hosted by EADT Suffolk Magazine and the East Anglian Daily Times, saw winners crowned across nine categories, including the hotly anticipated Best Restaurant and Best Chef.
Welcoming guests to the event at the Hangar, Milsom’s Kesgrave, EADT editor Terry Hunt praised the industry. “There really is so much to celebrate,” he said.
His enthusiasm was echoed by Suffolk Magazine editor Jayne Lindill who said: “I’m delighted that the awards are back. They are very important to both the EADT and Suffolk Magazine. We love to champion the food and drink industry and the quality of entries this year was outstanding.”
Jayne presented the awards with BBC Radio Suffolk’s Lesley Dolphin, who regularly highlights local food during her show and is equally passionate about local producers.
“The food and drink industry is not just important for the food produced but it creates jobs and supports the wider economy,” she said.
“Over the past 10 years it’s been exciting and riveting to see the industry grow.”
The first award of the day was Best Newcomer, with gourmet Scotch egg producer Wolff-Evans and Son beating Edward’s Cordials and butchers Palfrey and Hall.
Harry Wolff-Evans, who runs the business with his father, said: “The future’s bright – it’s yolky!”
The Cake Shop Bakery in Woodbridge then picked up the first of its two awards of the afternoon – Best Independent Food and Drink Retailer – beating Green Olive Deli of Woodbridge and Ipswich’s Rose House Butchery. The business also won Best Family Business.
“It’s a tremendous success today,” said Peter Wright of The Cake Shop. “I was not expecting that really. These awards are wonderful and about real people, real food and the food community.”
Lindsay Wright added: “I’m completed overwhelmed. It’s great and I am really proud of our family and the business.”
Wyken Vineyard’s Leaping Hare restaurant was crowned Best Restaurant, coming ahead of Pea Porridge in Bury St Edmunds and Newmarket’s The Packhorse Inn.
Head chef at the time of judging, Jon Ellis, has moved onto an exciting new project, but stepping into his shoes is capable new head chef and former Leaping Hare sous chef Simon Woodrow, who collected the award with general manager Francis Guildea.
“We are just so pleased,” said Francis. “We are proud just to be in the final with the others.
“We have so many people back at the restaurant now who are so passionate and we can’t wait to tell them. It’s a real team effort.
“We’ve got a fantastic building but what brings the whole thing to life is the people.”
“I’m proud of the whole team,” added Simon. “It’s a great place to work and we have some of the greatest ingredients to work with.”
In the Outstanding Customer Service category, The Copper Kettle at Kersey Mill and The Lighthouse in Aldeburgh were beaten to the post by Turners Fishmongers in Sudbury, who were unable to attend, but were praised by judge Ruth Bolton who said she left the shop with a “spring in her step”.
Fen Farm Dairy was chosen as winners of the Field to Fork category, beating Kenton Hall Estate and Ben’s in Bury St Edmunds.
Chefs Alan Paton (Stoke By Nayland Hotel), Lee Bye (Tuddenham Mill) and Chris Lee (The Packhorse, Moulton) were challenged to a two-hour cook-off at Suffolk New College as part of the Best Chef competition, and it was ultimately Tuddenham’s new head chef who shone on the day, impressing judges with his organisation skills and excellently presented dishes.
Lee worked as a sous-chef with former head chef Paul Foster before taking over the Tuddenham Mill kitchen.
“We’ve taken it in a new direction,” he said of the food offering today. “It’s well balanced and more substantial now. I’m over the moon with this award.”
Pride of Suffolk recognised a local product or brand that best represented Suffolk further afield. Aspall and Marybelle Pur Natur, who have multiple awards to their names, were beaten by Tim and Gill Matthews of The Artisan Smokehouse in Trimley.
Tim said the duo were delighted to take the prize on ‘home turf’ having won many national awards for their smoked foods.
“I’m really surprised we won,” Tim smiled, adding that next up is “world domination.”
The final award of the day was presented to Justine Paul, who has over the last six years dedicated herself to breathing new life into several farmers’ markets, in many cases bringing them back from the brink of extinction. Justine was named Food and Drink Hero, and said she was honoured to take the title, which made her feel she’s making a positive difference to communities with her efforts.
“For me, firstly, I think it’s really important the awards are back. We need to celebrate producers here. I’m pleased many have been recognised today.
“I’ve fallen into this job, I’ve grown with it and fallen in love with what I do.
“Although I’m out a lot at the markets I also spend a lot of time at home on my own and sometimes you wonder if you’re making a difference and this award is a testament that it is. I’m also a working mum and this proves if you believe in something with passion, you can make it happen.”
The EADT and Suffolk Magazine would like to thank the judges and also sponsors Adnams, the East of England Co-op, Larking Gowen, Waitrose, Carrs of Bury St Edmunds, Knights Country Kitchens, Easton and Otley College, Partridges, Elveden Estate and BBC Radio Suffolk.
Jayne Lindill added: “We thank everybody for their enthusiasm and support for the awards – the judges, everyone who entered, and the finalists. We look forward to building on it for many years to come.” n
Best Newcomer: Wolff-Evans and Sons
Best Independent Food and Drink Retailer: The Cake Shop Bakery
Best Restaurant: The Leaping Hare
Outstanding Customer Service:
Best Family Business:
The Cake Shop Bakery
Field to Fork: Fen Farm Dairy
Chef of the Year: Lee Bye
Pride of Suffolk:
The Artisan Smokehouse
Food and Drink Hero: Justine Paul
EADT Suffolk magazine congraulates all the winners and finalists. We will profile all of the winners individually in the magazine over the coming months.