Sussex Food and Drink Awards has record-breaking year as countdown to ceremony begins

Sussex Food and Drink Awards banquet hosts Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike
Sussex Food and Drink Awards banquet hosts Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike

The countdown is on for the annual Sussex Food and Drink Awards which has seen yet another record-breaking year.

Set to take place at the Amex Stadium in Falmer on Wednesday May 15, the prestigious awards scheme has this year seen around 200 businesses enter and more than 18,000 public votes - 3,000 more than last year.

The panel of expert judges, chaired by prominent Sussex farmer and Nuffield Scholar, William Goodwin, is now carrying out the last stages of judging and three grand finalists in each of the ten categories will be announced early in March.

Hilary Knight, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC who run the awards, said: “We are absolutely thrilled that so many businesses, both familiar and new, have engaged with the awards again this year and to have received over 18,000 votes from the public makes us very proud and excited about the future.

“We keep beating record figures year on year and the quality of the entries demonstrates the superb innovation in Sussex food and drink and is testament to the recognition and value that is placed on winning these awards.”

| READ MORE: ’Ghost’ captured on CCTV at haunted Sussex pub |

Olympic gold medalist and patron to the awards, Sally Gunnell OBE, will host the banquet with Danny Pike of BBC Sussex, where winners will be revealed and receive their coveted trophies.

Guests will be treated to a wonderful ‘Sussex bubbly and Harvey’s ale reception’, supported by NFU Mutual Pulborough, followed by a stunning seven-course banquet created by Amex Stadium head chef, David Crawford and his team, using superb Sussex ingredients.

Guests will be the first to know who is crowned Sussex Butcher of the Year, sponsored by RP Meats Wholesale Ltd; Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by Southern Co-op; Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR; Sussex Farmers’ Market of the Year, sponsored by Harvey’s Brewery; Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Sussex Food & Drink Network; Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by Natural Partnerships CIC; Young Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by the South of England Agricultural Society in association with Farmers Weekly; Sussex Newcomer of the Year, sponsored by SRC-Time; and Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Blakes Foods.

Now in its 13th year, the Sussex Food and Drink Awards is run by Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC), co-directed by Hilary Knight of the Sussex Food & Drink Network, specialist consultant for local food businesses; and Paula Seager, managing director of Natural PR Ltd, a leading Sussex PR and community relations firm.

They believe that buying local food and drink is the environmentally responsible choice for everyone, reducing food miles, waste and packaging, as well as helping to sustain the local economy.

Through these unique awards and other projects including www.southdownsfood.org, they are helping residents and visitors to the region to find out about dozens of fantastic artisan producers, as well as where to buy and enjoy local produce.

Organisers are urging people to book their tickets for the event early to celebrate with 400 leaders in the food, drink and farming industry in the county at www.sussexfoodawards.biz

READ MORE: Former WW2 spitfire pilot dies age 94

Take a look around this magnificent £8.75m South Downs country house with its own spa, swimming pool, tennis court and football pitch – all set within 45 acres of grounds