The finalists of six of the ten categories in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2017 have been announced.
More than 100 restaurateurs, butchers, market organisers, producers, shop keepers and brewers from across the county were at Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling, yesterday evening (Monday, July 4) for the awards’ Big Reveal celebration.
BBC Sussex radio presenter Danny Pike hosted the event, entertaining the audience and congratulating the finalists of the best Sussex food producer, drink producer, food/farm shop, farmers’ market, eating experience and butcher categories.
Earlier in the year, the public were invited to nominate their favourites for the categories and those in the industry could nominate themselves. The deadline for nominations closed on June 8 and a panel of judges selected the ten finalists of each category at a meeting later in the month hosted by the pub Shepherd and Dog, in Fulking.
Yesterday, guests, including chef Steven Edwards, winner of Masterchef: The Professionals 2013 and Sussex young chef of the year 2010 in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards, were treated to platters of local food, ales, juices ciders and Ridgeview sparkling wine. Finalists, both familiar and new, celebrated getting to the next stage of the competition and were able to chat with the sponsor judges and previous winners. They also celebrated the first birthday of www.southdownsfood.org, a guide on the local food and drink producers and places to eat and buy local fare in the region.
The finalists of the six categories will now be put to a public vote that will close on September 24.
Paula Seager and Hilary Knight, co-directors of Natural Partnerships CIC, run the awards as a not-for-profit scheme. Ms Seager said: “This has been a wonderful evening and we are so grateful to Ridgeview for allowing us to host it at their stunning premises and officially open the public voting in this year’s awards.
“The quality is consistently high in this competition with yet another impressive set of finalists this year, so we are urging people to visit them and try out the produce in order to vote for their favourites to win. The public vote is a vital part of the judging process and the top three will become grand finalists, so please do get voting!”
More than 10,000 people voted in the 2016 awards; the judging panel, chaired by local dairy farmer, William Goodwin, is hoping even more people will vote for their favourites this year.
As well as recognition, the winners and runners-up of the ten categories will receive their trophies on February 1, 2017 at a BAFTA-style ceremony at the Amex Stadium, Falmer. Olympic gold medallist Sally Gunnell OBE, patron to the awards, and Danny Pike will host the ceremony and it will include a seven-course Sussex-produce banquet.
Nominations for the final four categories – street food vendor, young chef, farmer and newcomer – will remain open until September 8.
For more details about the awards, including how to vote and how to make a nomination, visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz
The finalists of the six categories are:
Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative
Beal’s Farm Charcuterie, North Chailey, East Sussex
Brontie & Co, Ferring, West Sussex
Mud Foods, Midhurst, West Sussex
Noble and Stace Chocolatiers, Midhurst, West Sussex
Ouse Valley Foods, Piltdown, East Sussex
Seriously Real, Pulborough, West Sussex
Slindon Bakery, Ford, West Sussex
Tablehurst Farm, Forest Row, East Sussex
The Hearth Bakehouse, Lewes, East Sussex
The Real Pie Company, Crawley, West Sussex
Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Rix & Kay
Albourne Estate, Albourne, West Sussex
Brighton Gin, Hove, East Sussex
Firebird Brewing Co, Rudgwick, West Sussex
Langham Brewery, Lodsworth, West Sussex
Nyetimber Vineyard, West Chiltington, West Sussex
Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common, East Sussex
SeaCider, Ditchling Common, East Sussex
Silly Moo Cider, Cowfold, West Sussex
Stopham Vineyard, Stopham, Pulborough, West Sussex
Wobblegate, Bolney, West Sussex
Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Wealden District Council
Adsdean Farm Shop, Funtington, West Sussex
Charlie’s Farm Shop, Bury, West Sussex
Cowdray Farm Shop, Midhurst, West Sussex
Crossbush Farm Shop, Arundel, West Sussex
Dyke Farm Shop, Pulborough, West Sussex
Eggs to Apples, Hurst Green, East Sussex
Perryhill Orchards Farm Shop, Hartfield, East Sussex
Sharnfold Farm Shop, Stone Cross, East Sussex
Swains Farm Shop, Henfield, West Sussex
Tablehurst Farm Limited, Forest Row, East Sussex
Sussex Butcher of the Year, co-sponsored by Plumpton College & RP Meats Wholesaler Ltd
A C Coughtrey Butchers, Pulborough, West Sussex
Archers of Westfield, Westfield, East Sussex
Barfields Butchers, Brighton, East Sussex
Bramptons Butchers, Brighton, East Sussex
Glyn Thomas & Son Ltd, Lindfield, West Sussex
May’s Farm Cart, Lewes, East Sussex
New Street Butchers, Horsham, West Sussex
Nick the Butcher, Hartfield, East Sussex
Steyning Butchers, Steyning, West Sussex
The Hungry Guest Butcher, Petworth, West Sussex
Sussex Farmers’ Market of the Year, sponsored by Harveys of Lewes
Chichester Farmers’ Market, West Sussex
Forest Row Farmers’ Market, East Sussex
Heathfield Farmers’ Market, East Sussex
Horsham Local Produce Market, West Sussex
Lewes Farmers’ Market, Cliffe Precinct (monthly) East Sussex
Lewes Farmers’ Market, Market Tower (weekly) East Sussex
Pulborough Farmers’ Market, West Sussex
Shoreham Farmers’ Market, West Sussex
Steyning Farmers’ Market, West Sussex
The Great Little Farmers’ Market, Worthing, West Sussex
Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by ETI Ltd
Rushfields Café, Poynings, West Sussex
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, West Sussex
The Coach and Horses, Danehill, East Sussex
The Countryman Inn, Shipley, West Sussex
The Crown, Hastings, East Sussex
The Dorset Arms, Withyham, East Sussex
The Earl of March, Lavant, West Sussex
The Leconfield, Petworth, West Sussex
The Ram Inn, Firle, East Sussex
The Sussex Ox, Polegate, East Sussex