Norwich is the foodie capital of Britain

Sous chef, Ciaran Lack, in the restaurant at St Giles House Hotel. Norwich has come top in a survey for the most award winning restaurants per capita. Picture: Denise Bradley Sous chef, Ciaran Lack, in the restaurant at St Giles House Hotel. Norwich has come top in a survey for the most award winning restaurants per capita. Picture: Denise Bradley

Saturday, October 26, 2013
6:43 AM

The city and surrounding area has left the likes of London, Manchester and Bristol in the shade for the number of restaurants per head with a prestigious AA rosette.

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Chef Roger Hickman at his restaurant in Upper St Giles. Picture: Denise BradleyChef Roger Hickman at his restaurant in Upper St Giles. Picture: Denise Bradley

In fact, Norwich gave London a battering, with one AA rosette-holder for every 6,500 people, compared to one per 18,200.

It is yet another accolade for our Fine City, which also has an enviable reputation for culture and heritage treasures.

Chef proprietor Roger Hickman, from Roger Hickman’s Restaurant, said the city’s achievement was down to the dedication of its chefs – and the excellence of City College Norwich’s Hotel School.

He said: “It’s really rewarding to hear that the data collected puts Norwich at the forefront of national dining with such a high ratio of award-winning cooking for the size of the city.

“A lot of chefs work hard to deliver what their customers are looking for, and this is helped further by the regional industry being supported by such a brilliant catering college.

“The general consensus is that London delivers strongly for its market, but to hear that pound for pound we do a better job will really inspire the city.”

Culinary consultant Visionarydining.com, which works with the hospitality industry across the UK to drive up standards, studied the new 2014 AA Guide to discover which cities had the biggest concentration of award-winning restaurants.

Although London topped the list in terms of absolute numbers, once the size of population was taken into account, Norwich and the area around it easily came out top.

Steve Thorpe, head of school at City College Norwich, said: “It is fantastic to see that the work of the Hotel School is making such a big impact on the region’s hospitality and catering industry especially as we are now in our centenary year.

“The Hotel School is very fortunate to have such incredible support from a local industry that encourages lots of people to be enterprising and entrepreneurial within the sector. This report reflects the very high level of small and independent local restaurateurs that is supported by a county that loves its food.”

The St Giles House Hotel in Norwich has two AA rosettes, and its sous chef Ciaran Lack said: “I trained at the Hotel School and it has helped me, and I know a few people who have gone on to greater things.”

Gordon Cartwright, managing director of visionarydining.com, said: “We all know that London leads the way in terms of the volume of award-winning restaurants. However, when one begins to look at the provision of quality restaurants per head of population, the results are surprising.

“It is interesting to look at the impact of college hospitality education in the cities which have done well in this survey. The quality of students which these colleges send out into the local industry play a big part in driving up quality. In the case of City College Norwich, the link between quality students and the local restaurant scene is very clear.

“The satisfaction of achieving an award such as an AA rosette is one to savour for those who toil endlessly to fill their restaurants, and whilst we know that restaurants should always cook for their clientele first and foremost, ultimately the national guides do generally reflect what is going on.

“I have been to Norwich several times both to eat in its restaurants and visit the City College Norwich Hotel School, and it is very encouraging to find the city’s hospitality industry in such great shape.”

The survey’s findings showed that the top 10 cities for AA rosette award-winning restaurants were Norwich, Winchester, Edinburgh, York, Portsmouth, Manchester, London, Bristol, Brighton and Newcastle.

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