Celebrations were enjoyed on Monday 6 July as over a hundred Sussex food and drink business leaders gathered at the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 10th anniversary Big Reveal of this year’s awards finalists at Harveys Brewery in Lewes.
Harveys is the oldest independent brewery in Sussex, celebrating 225 years, and its historic building and riverside yard provided the perfect venue to host the many restaurateurs, butchers, farmers’ market organisers, food producers, shop keepers, brewers and vintners from the far reaches of East Sussex, West Sussex and Brighton & Hove.
Previous winners of Sussex Drink Producer of the Year and proud sponsors of the Sussex Farmers Market of the Year category, Harveys is a great advocate of the ethos of buying local and has kept many family Sussex traditions over the years, including using their own supply of South Downs spring water drawn via an artesian well below the brewery which is mixed with locally grown hops.
To be surrounded by such nostalgia seemed very appropriate as organisers and guests at the Big Reveal event reflected on the last ten years of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards. Host, BBC Sussex radio presenter, Danny Pike entertained the audience and congratulated the top ten finalists announced in the Best Sussex Food Producer, Drink Producer, Food/Farm Shop, Farmers’ Market, Eating Experience and Butcher categories. He banged the awards dinner gong to open public voting at 6.30pm.
Amongst the finalists were several Brighton businesses: Barfields Butchers, Bramptons Butchers, Archers butchers and Coggings and Co burger restaurant.
At the Big Reveal event, tempting treats from local street food vendors, a new category to the awards this year, as well as delicious platters of local food were all enjoyed and washed down with Harveys ale, Wobblegate apple juice and Sussex wine. Finalists, both familiar and new, celebrated getting to the next stage in the competition and were able to chat with the sponsor judges, winners from previous years and gain top tips about what could make them a winner of a coveted trophy this year.
Paula Seager and Hilary Knight, co-directors of Natural Partnerships CIC, who run the awards as a not-for-profit scheme, are urging the public to now get voting for their favourites by 21 September. Nominations for the remaining four categories will remain open throughout the summer with Sussex Street Food, Young Chef, Farmer and Newcomer of the Year all open until September.
Said Paula Seager, “This has been a wonderful evening and we are so grateful to Harveys for allowing us to host it at their stunning premises and to all our fantastic sponsors who make this awards possible.”
“The competition is set to be very tough this year with an impressive line up of candidates; these unique awards are all about boosting the market for Sussex produce and letting people in the county know about the fantastic food and drink grown and made in Sussex, as well as the many great restaurants, pubs, cafes, farmers markets and food shops where it can be bought and enjoyed.”
Over 10,000 people voted in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards last year and the judging panel, chaired by local dairy farmer, William Goodwin, is hoping that even more people will vote for their favourite food and drink heroes to win at www.sussexfoodawards.biz – it only takes a minute or two and every vote really does count.
As well as earning the huge respect and recognition that these awards now carry, winners and runners up in all ten categories will go on to receive their trophies at a glittering tenth birthday ceremony on 28 January 2016, hosted by patron to the awards, Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex. The ceremony includes a spectacular seven-course Sussex produce banquet produced by Sodexo Prestige at the Amex Stadium.
For more information about all the categories and how to vote for or nominate your favourite, visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz