Celebrations were in full flow at this year’s Sussex Food & Drink Awards where eight of Sussex’s top food and drink producers were hailed as local heroes and received their trophies.
Over 350 leaders in the food, drink and farming industries gathered on Thursday, January 31 for what is now dubbed ‘the Sussex foodie event of the year’ with all tickets for the spectacular ceremony at the Amex Stadium, Falmer, sold out.
Guests were treated to a wonderful ‘Sussex bubbly and ale reception’, sponsored by Harveys and Carr Taylor, followed by a stunning seven-course banquet created by new stadium caterers the Lindley Group.
The menu featured an array of Sussex goodies including: Sussex beef and dairy, locally caught fish, locally grown fruit and vegetables, a selection of local cheeses, Sussex ground coffee and locally-made chocolates.
Chairman of the judges at the Sussex Food & Drink Awards, Clive Beddall OBE, said all the winners ‘reflected the rich diversity of the food and drink industry.’
He said: “All our grand finalists offer superb quality and innovation and reflect the rich diversity of the food and drink industry in this part of the world- and there are few areas of a modern food store or indeed a catering sector menu that cannot be supplied from Sussex.”
Winners were announced in a BAFTA-style presentation, hosted by the awards patron Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike of BBC Sussex.
Olympic gold medallist, Sally Gunnell OBE, gave a heartfelt speech about her healthy relationship with food. As a patron of the awards and Chestnut Tree House, she encouraged diners to donate generously to the children’s hospice as the evening proceeded.
Winners of the event were as follows:
The award for Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harveys, was taken home by Lewes Farmers Market - beating Steyning and Chichester to the prize.
Proud farmers, Martin and Gundrada Hole at Montague Farm, Pevensey won the Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Knill James - runners up included Harry and Pip Goring, the Wiston Estate and Phil and Steve Hook, Longleys Farm, Hailsham.
Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop, sponsored by the Sussex Food & Drink Network, went to Veasey and Sons, Forest Row with The Hungry Guest, Petworth and The Sussex Produce Company, Steyning coming in as a runners up.
Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative, went to High Weald Dairy, Horsted Keynes with Caroline’s Dairy, Sidlesham, Nr Chichester and Just Brownies, Partridge Green just missing out.
Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR, was awarded to Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common - runners up were The Dark Star Brewing Co, Partridge Green and Wobblegate pure apple juice, Bolney.
The Cat Inn, West Hoathly, won Best Sussex Eating Experience, which was sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter - The Ram Inn, Firle and Horsham’s Wabi placed as runners up.
Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Gram UK Ltd and Cheese Please, went to Jimmy Gray, a 24 year-old chef at Jeremy’s Restaurant in Borde Hill Gardens, Nr Haywards Heath. Runners up included Horsham chef Charlie Tayler of Pass Restaurant in South Lodge Hotel and RyanHunter, Wingrove House, Alfriston.
Sussex Butcher of the Year was sponsored by Natural Farms as was won by John Murray Butchers, Loxwood beating Archers of Westfield and Bramptons Butchers, Brighton.
Almost £1,500 was raised over the course of the evening for Chestnut Tree House.
At the end of the ceremony, guests were handed goody bags with the Co-operative brand filled with yummy Sussex produce.
Sussex Newspapers North, including this title, was proud to support the awards as a media partner.