THIS year’s Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards is now in full swing with many of its categories now closed and judging well under way. Three categories, however, remain open for nominations.
One of the award’s longest standing categories, Booker Dining Venue of the Year is still open for entries from pubs and restaurants across Northamptonshire.
Last year saw The Falcon, Castle Ashby, Greedy Gordons Pub Company, The Pig & Waffle at Grafton Underwood all take Gold and they have been reaping the benefits of the competition ever since.
World Cuisine Restaurant sponsored by British Pepper & Spice, defined as a venue whose menu offers predominantly international cuisine, is also still open for submissions. Last year’s winner was Indian cuisine, Saffron last year.
Finally one of the awards newest categories, Community Café of the Year supported by bakery The Good Loaf – a previous winner of the local Food Hero award – is still seeking nominations for tea rooms and cafes that are not only the best for its produce, but are a “stand-out-from-the-crowd” venue, providing noteworthy support within their communities.
Suzy Van Rooyen, chief executive of The Good Loaf, said: “We are delighted to be supporting the Community Café category this year. As winners of the Local Food Hero Award in years gone by, we know what an uplift the recognition means to small businesses and are so pleased to be a part of this for others who will see the benefit. “
Dining venues will be “mystery shopped” twice before the finalists are decided. Gold, Silver and Bronze winners will then be announced at The Royal & Derngate Theatre on October 12. It is therefore also an exciting time for any keen foodie who loves to frequent dining venues as the NFADA Awards team seek volunteers (no experience necessary, just an appreciation of excellent service and food) to be mystery shoppers for the above categories.
There have been two exceptional cook offs for both Booker Young Chef of the year, hosted by Northampton College and Whitco Chef of the year hosted by Tresham College, over the past two weeks which delivered passionate performances from a number of talented chefs.
Vita from Whitco, sponsor of the Whitco Chef of the Year category, emphasised just how important chefs are; ‘it’s all about the people and it’s the people that can make it all matter and happen. Our country really needs to value them more and we as clients need to value them more. They need to be celebrated! We want to be able to say to the chef well done, whether that be a casual, a very quick, easy dinner, or a fine dining experience. We all should say thanks to the chef because it’s an amazing skill and it’s so undervalued in this country’.
Finalists for Booker Young Chef: Nicole Wicks (Rushton Hall); Shawn Monk and Matthew Heritage (The Falcon Inn at Fotheringhay); David Smith (The Palmichael); Hannah Dunne (Ember).
Finalists for Whitco Chef of the Year: Bartlomiej Polinski (Hibiscus); Arturs Dzerins (Electric Pavillion); Ben Dury (The Red Lion, Cranford) and Michael O’Gorman (The University of Northampton – Waterside Campus).
Gold award winners in each category will receive a prize in the form of a special culinary experience. Although details of this year’s prizes are yet to be confirmed in previous years winners have spent the day with some of the country’s top chefs.
All the winners will receive their awards at the gala awards ceremony on October 12 at the Royal & Derngate Theatre in Northampton.
For more details on all the categories in the Weetabix Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2022/23, including downloading entry and nomination forms, visit www.northamptonshirefoodanddrink.co.uk/. Or call Sophie on 01933 664437 or email
You can also follow the Awards on Facebook at @foodawards or Twitter and Instagram at @foodawardsHQ or on LinkedIn at @weetabixnfadawards