It’s that time of year again, a point where I get excited at the thought of discovering new businesses and delights with a foodie theme.

I’m very lucky to get to travel across Kent in my line of work and I often describe towns and villages based upon the most outstanding food I discover, food is a passion not my career by the way.

Whether it be coleslaw in Dover, fine Patisseries in Hythe, fabulous bakeries in Headcorn or Rochester, local butchers, farm shops, pubs, restaurants or cherries from the farm gate, there is so much I still seem to miss.

Kent manages to excite and satisfy the gastronome at every level. Who doesn’t look forward to asparagus season for instance? (Truth be told me actually, I’m still not one hundred percent convinced on the stuff.)

Why is this time of year so special? It is the point where Kent on Sunday and Kent Life announce the start of the years Food Award nominations. As they say “The Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food and Drink Awards are a celebration of all the superb produce, dining and service in our wonderful county.”

I can’t wait to see who the public put forward in the various categories, every year I discover someone and something new, it’s fantastic.

For me, the greatest thing about the awards is that businesses don’t subscribe, there is no entry fee. Some of the businesses I have spoken to in the past were blissfully unaware that their customers had nominated them until they got a call from the judges saying they are on the shortlist. How wonderful that the public take time to shout about these businesses, food producers, drinks makers, pubs, restaurants, farm markets, tea rooms and so much more. Who will win the crown of this years best newcomer? What about this years overall food hero? Someone who has had a significant impact within the arena of the food industry throughout the county.

So who do you get passionate about in Kent? Which is your best pub and why? Who provides a level of customer service that just makes dealing with them a pleasure and adds to the experience of interacting with that business? Who do you find yourself raving on about to your friends and why?

It’s a tough economic climate out there for businesses yet there are some amazing success stories. People are engaging with local companies in a really healthy and sustainable way, getting more value for money, more enjoyment and putting funds back into the local economy. The impact of what these businesses are doing goes way beyond just an enjoyable meal or drink, they are strengthening and rebuilding communities. Just take a look at some of last years finalists and you’ll see what I mean. These businesses engage in a really positive way making their futures stronger, their environments nicer for working in and drawing customers back time and again.

They know that people appreciate what they do but there is nothing more special than finding some customers have made the effort to nominate their business, to get the opportunity to meet other like-minded businesses and to be recognised across the county for the efforts and passion that is put into every day.

I love to see the look of joy and amazement on the winners faces as they are called up. I can’t wait to see who you choose this year.

Get thinking and get nominating I urge you. Businesses and people can be entered for more than one category and you can nominate as many as you like.

I really look forward to seeing who you think shines and why.

To see the categories and Nominate a Kent business for The Food And Drink Awards click here

For more info on the 2016 Food and Drink Awards click here

Our article on the 2015 Food and Drink Awards

For a list of the 2015 finalists

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