THE VERY best of the county was celebrated last night at the Sussex Food and Drink Awards for 2011/12.
It was hosted at the AMEX Community Stadium in Falmer with representatives from all aspects of the local food and drink industry.
Sussex Newspapers (north), including this newspaper and sussexonline.tv, are among the media partners for the competition.
This year saw the biggest response since the competition began six years ago - almost 11,000 votes were cast and more than 350 firms and indivuduals were nominated.
Chairman of the judges, Clive Beddall, said: “I am delighted the county’s food and drink community has defied the media gloom merchants who suggested that uncertain economic times would drastically reduce support for local produce.”
Winners and finalists were:
Sussex Food Producer of the Year (sponsored by The Southern Co-Operative) - High Weald Dairy, Horsted Keynes.
Finalists - Caroline’s Dairy (sidlesham) and Daylands Farm (Ashurst).
Sussex Drink Producer of the Year (sponsored by Sussex Food and Drink Network) - Wobblegate pure apple juice (Bolney).
Finalists - Highdown Vineyard (Ferring) and WJ King (Horsham).
Sussex Food/Farm Shop of the Year (sponsored by South Downs National Park Authority) - The Sussex Produce Company (Steyning).
Finalists - Cheese Please (Lewes) and Sharnfold Farm Shop (Stone Cross).
Sussex Butcher of the Year (sponsored by Natural Farms) - Bramptons Butchers (Brighton).
Finalists - SK Hutchings Butchers (Partridge Green) and Westdene Butchers (Brighton).
Best Sussex Farmers Market (sponsored by Harveys) - Shoreham Farmers Market.
Finalists - Lewes Farmers Market and Steyning Farmers Market.
Sussex Farmer of the Year (sponsored by knilljames) - The Hooks, Longleys Farm, Hailsham.
Finalists - The Ashbys (Willetts Farm, Blackam) and The Passmores (Coombes, Lancing).
Best Eating Experience (MayoWynneBaxter) - The Foragers, Hove.
Finalists - Simply Delicious (Bognor Regis) and Tottington Manor (Edburton).
Sussex Young Chef of the Year (sponsored by naturalpr) - Paul Peach, The Horse Guards Inn, Tillington.
Finalists - Craig Holden (The Mill House Hotel, Ashington) and Rob Lightbody (Jeremy’s Restaurant, Borde Hill Gardens).