Success in Sussex as food and drink heroes crowned winners

Celebrations were in full flow on Wednesday 7 February as the Sussex Food & Drink Awards revealed the county’s top food and drink producers for 2018, all hailed as local heroes as they received their winning trophies at the Amex Community Stadium in Brighton.

Hosted by Danny Pike of BBC Sussex and actress Julie Graham, representing the charity Chestnut Tree House, the glittering 12th awards ceremony saw 400 leaders in the food, drink and farming industry gather together for what is dubbed as ‘the Sussex foodie event of the year’, celebrating the cream of Sussex food and drink producers.

Over the last 12 years the awards have received over 4,000 nominations and 133,000 public votes promoting hundreds of businesses as Grand Finalists.  The awards scheme is run by Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC), co-directed by Hilary Knight of the Sussex Food & Drink Network and Paula Seager, Managing Director of Natural PR Ltd, with support from a loyal and high ranking group of sponsors and expert judges along with independent chairman of judges, Sussex farmer and Nuffield scholar, William Goodwin.

Said William, “It’s been a truly fantastic evening.  These awards are all about supporting and boosting local farmers, food and drink producers and the outlets which use and sell superb local fare.  Starting from small beginnings, the awards have grown to become prestigious and respected, attracting a record 15,000 votes from members of the public this year and huge support from business in the county, bringing together the whole local food and farming community.”

Guests were treated to a wonderful ‘Sussex bubbly and ale reception’, sponsored by NFU Mutual Pulborough, with Harveys Ale, Carr Taylor sparkling wine, Wobblegate apple juice and Brighton Gin accompanied by delicious canapés from The Naked Food Company.  This was followed by a stunning seven-course banquet created by stadium caterers Sodexo Prestige, using the very best local and seasonal ingredients supplied by Lighthouse Bakery, Real Patisserie, Bookham & Harrison, Southview Farm Dairy, Hoads Farm, Veasey & Sons Fishmongers, Plumpton College, R P Meats (Wholesale), T G Fruits, The Cheese Man, Deerview Fine Foods, Just Brownies, The Raw Chocolate Company, South Downs Water Co Ltd and Edgcumbes Coffee Roasters and Tea Blenders.

Said Paula Seager, “We are incredibly proud of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards and want to wish our 2018 winners, grand finalists and finalists our warmest congratulations. The line up was hugely impressive this year and the awards are all about celebrating our Sussex food and drink heroes – we know the future is bright for all of them.  Several new sponsors and supporters have come on board this year alongside our loyal, longstanding partners and we want to thank them all for sharing a vital role in making these awards such a great success.”

Guests also had the opportunity to enter a fantastic prize draw with the chance of winning a unique VIP Foodie Tour of Sussex worth over £1,200, kindly donated by several of the Grand Finalists and partners at the awards ceremony.  The winning package includes a year’s worth of juice from Wobblegate, a year’s worth of pies from The Real Pie Company, a hamper from Rushfields Farm Shop, lunch for two at etch., lunch for two at The Parsons Table, a gift voucher and picnic hamper from New Street Butchers & Deli and a tasting tour and picnic at Ridgeview Wine Estate.

For further information on the awards and winners in all ten categories including Sussex butcher, food producer, drink producer, young chef, farmers market, food shop, eating experience, newcomer, street food vendor and young Sussex farmer of the year visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz

Winners and Runners up for 2018 are:

Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op, presented by Simon Eastwood

Winner:  Bookham Harrison Farms, Rudgwick, West Sussex

Runners up:  Just Brownies, Shipley, West Sussex; Lighthouse Bakery & School, Robertsbridge, East Sussex; The Raw Chocolate Company, Henfield, West Sussex; The Real Pie Company, Crawley, West Sussex

Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR with support from The Pass at South Lodge Hotel

Winner:  Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common, East Sussex

Runners up: Brighton Gin, Brighton and Hove and Wobblegate, Bolney, West Sussex

Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige with support from super chef Matt Gillan

Winner:  Michael Notman-Watt from 64 Degrees, Brighton and Hove

Runners up: George Boarer from etch., Brighton and Hove and Michael Sutherland, The Star Inn, Alfriston, East Sussex

Young Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Plumpton College in association with Farmers Weekly

Winner: Jack Stilwell, Forestside, West Sussex

Runners up: Christopher Appleton, Arlington, East Sussex and Luke Spalding, Ridgeview, Ditchling Common, East Sussex

Sussex Butcher of the Year, sponsored by RP Meats Wholesale Ltd

Winner:  New Street Butchers & Deli, Horsham, West Sussex

Runners up: Archers of Westfield, Westfield, East Sussex and Garlic Wood Butchery, Steyning, West Sussex

Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harveys Brewery

Winner: Chichester Farmers Market, West Sussex

Runners up: Shoreham Farmers Market, West Sussex and Steyning Farmers Market, West Sussex

Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by Blakes Foods

Winner:  The Artisan Bakehouse, Ashurst, West Sussex

Runners up: 64 Degrees, Brighton and Hove and The Parsons Table, Arundel, West Sussex

Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Wealden District Council

Winner:  The Sussex Produce Company, Steyning, West Sussex

Runners up:  Plaw Hatch Farm Shop, Sharpthorne, West Sussex and Rushfields Farm Shop, Poynings, West Sussex

Sussex Street Food of the Year, sponsored by Horsham District Foodies with support from Food Rocks and judging from super chefs Steven Edwards and Ian Swainson

Winner:  Garlic Wood Farm, Steyning, West Sussex

Runners up: Jah Jyot, Henfield, West Sussex and The Pig and Jacket, Lewes, East Sussex

Sussex Newcomer of the Year, co-sponsored by Kreston Reeves and Sussex Food and Drink Network

Winner: etch., Brighton and Hove

Runners up: Greyhound Brewery, West Chiltington, West Sussex and The Parsons Table, Arundel, West Sussex