It’s the evening of Thursday 15th October 2015 and there is a buzz about the room, anticipation of a great meal ahead to be enjoyed, delightful food served up by the highly talented chefs of the Ashford International Hotel. The real excitement though is fueled by nerves, a room full of people who have been nominated by their customers as being exceptional. How lovely is it to have your patrons make an effort to say special things about you and your business, to want you to get recognition on a county-wide scale.
The black tie event was hosted by Andy Garland of BBC radio Kent, a man with a personal passion for producing food, these awards had a resonance with him and he took the ceremony to heart adding a witty sparkle to the proceedings and winning over some new listeners in the process.
Kent Life magazine and newspaper Kent on Sunday do a wonderful job of promoting all things good in the garden of England. Their readership vote in huge numbers each year for the restaurants, chefs, tea rooms, pubs and producers who excel at what they do, in providing local produce, in sharing passion and knowledge and making the most of Kent’s unique resources.
For me the thrill of the evening at the Kent Food and Drink Awards is seeing and meeting so many wonderful people, of discovering businesses that I might not have come across and of knowing that I will give in to temptation and over the coming months spend money in some fine establishments and on delightful produce. There is oodles of inspiration, places to visit and I will make the effort to buy some delectable delights from these amazing companies. For a food lover there is an almost mystical pleasure in discovering new produce.
The evening is about winners and I don’t want to focus on those who take the plaudits, the winners in each category, I want to talk about all of the finalists as, and this was put quite succinctly by Sarah Sturt, editor of Kent Life, Chris Britcher, editor of Kent on Sunday, and Simon Irwin, publisher of both magazine and newspaper, ‘everyone in the room is a winner’. It may seem a cliché but how many businesses would dearly love to be here on the night, in the spotlight for creating such passion in their clientele.
The Kent Food and Drink Awards are run each year, nominations start in April and entry is by public vote, these are the people’s awards and one of the most touching moments must be when a business finds out for the first time that it has been shortlisted, that unknowingly to them their customers have taken action and said, ‘we love what these people are doing and they need to be recognised!’
Judging was tough this year, probably the hardest it has been and choosing the winners seemed nigh on impossible. The quality of entrants is extremely high each time and a real testament to Kent.
To find out a little more about the magazine Kent Life take a look at their website.
I can’t wait to see who is nominated next year. In the meantime, I wonder how many of these finalists you know. Have fun discovering more about the ones you don’t! (Links to them are below).
This years finalists were:
Newcomer, sponsored by Clive Emson Land Property Auctioneers
Food Producer, sponsored by Perrys Chartered Accountants
Drink Producer, sponsored by Motorline Maserati
Independent Food and Drink Retailer, sponsored by Illuminate Skin Clinics
Tea shop, sponsored by Cookery Studio Kent
The Village Shop and Post Office, Challock
Pub of the Year, sponsored by Eastwell Manor
Chef of the Year, sponsored by The Canterbury Auction Galleries
Restaurant of the Year, sponsored by Britelite Windows