Lewes business Cheese Please in line for hat-trick

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LEWES business Cheese Please is in line for a hat-trick of prestigious titles.

It has been named as a finalist in the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2011/12.

The panel of judges named the specialist cheese outlet in the Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop category, sponsored by the South Downs National Park Authority - an award it has won for the last two years.

Cheese Please will be up against Sharnfold Farm, Stone Cross, near Pevensey, and the Sussex Produce Company, Steyning, which has been a finalist for the last two years and a winner three years ago.

Twenty-four of the county’s best food and drink heroes have made it through to make a tasty final line-up. Winners will be revealed at the Sussex foodie event of the year, the Sussex Food and Drink Awards banquet on January 26 at the American Express Community Stadium, for which tickets are now on sale.

Clive Beddall, Chairman of the Judges, said: “The awards continue to grow in popularity with a record number of people, close to 11,000, voting for hundreds of their favourite Sussex farmers, food and drink producers, young chefs, food/farm shops, butchers, eateries and farmers markets.

“We have seen a record number of different businesses and individuals receiving votes this year – familiar, quality names have appeared again and we are excited to see many new names emerge, proving that these awards are reaching every corner of the county and that Sussex continues to produce some of the UK’s best food and drink heroes.”

Finalists in the Sussex Farm of the Year category, sponsored by Knill James, are Steve and Phil Hook, of Longleys Farm, Hailsham, the winner three years ago.

The Best Sussex Farmers Market, sponsored by Harveys Brewery, sees Lewes Farmers Market again in the running after reaching last year’s final.

Other categories are Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-operative; Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by the Sussex Food and Drink Network; Butcher of the Year, sponsored by Natural Farms; Best Sussex Eating Experience, sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter Solicitors; and Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR.

The black tie banquet at the Amex Stadium starts with a Sussex bubbly and ale reception sponsored by Harveys, followed by a seven course feast made from the very best local produce by executive chef Fred Tobin and sous chef Neil Paton, including fish, fruits, cheeses and other Sussex goodies.

Paula Seager, MD of Natural PR which organises the awards, said: “The awards ceremony is always such a fantastic evening and this year’s banquet is going to be a true celebration of the amazing food and drink that Sussex has to offer.

“A sense of anticipation builds throughout the evening until winners are announced and trophies presented BAFTA-style with host Danny Pike from BBC Sussex. There is nothing contrived or stuffy about these awards, just a lively and fun celebration of our Sussex food heroes.”

Visit the website www.sussexfoodawards.biz to find out how to buy tickets for the event or call Natural PR on 01273 857242 for more information.