Gala celebration for very best of Norfolk’s food and drink industry

The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards at the Norfolk Showground. Richard Woolliams, left, and Sarah

The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards at the Norfolk Showground. Richard Woolliams, left, and Sarah De Chair, Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

The waiting is over and the winners of the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2014 have been announced at a spectacular awards ceremony held at the Norfolk Showground. STACIA BRIGGS presents this year's Norfolk food and drink superstars.

The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards at the Norfolk Showground. Chef Chris Couborough, left, and Do

The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards at the Norfolk Showground. Chef Chris Couborough, left, and Don Lear, Bhaji Man. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

After months of anticipation and deliberation it was time for celebration last night at the EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards 2014 in association with the East of England Co-op gala ceremony where the best of the best in the county's spectacular food, drink and hospitality business were crowned.

Hundreds of guests from Norfolk's incredible food and drink scene gathered at the Norfolk Showground Arena for a night showcasing the cream of the county's crop, from independent food and drink retailer to outstanding front of house, best pub to the best school food project.

After arrival, guests visited a range of market stalls set up in the arena by local producers including Buns of Fun, Candi's Chutney, Dolce Memento, Fielding Cottage, Grey Seal Coffee Roasters, Jubberwacky, Jamoroc Catering and Little Millie's, all of whom offered delicious samples and tasters for those attending.

After the drinks reception, guests took their seats and heard a short speech from EDP editor Nigel Pickover, who congratulated the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival for 10 fantastic years promoting the county's spectacular produce.

The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards at the Norfolk Showground. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY

The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink awards at the Norfolk Showground. Picture: DENISE BRADLEY - Credit: copyright: Archant 2014

'These awards allow us to showcase the very best that Norfolk has to offer, from the food champions whose produce puts the county on the food map to farmers' markets and our range of incredible eateries to the hard work that goes on in schools to encourage children to 'eat local as well as our dedicated chefs,' he said.

'There are many reasons why Norfolk is a fantastic place to live in and to visit and our food and drink offer is very high on that list, which is thanks to you.'

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His sentiments were echoed by Roger Grosvenor, executive officer – retail, East of England Co-op, who said: 'What an inspirational night – here at the East of England Co-op we have been so proud to be part of the Norfolk Food and Drink Awards.

'We've been delighted and amazed by the quality of this year's nominees and, as the region's largest independent retailer, we believe every encouragement should be given to those who work so hard and with such passion and creativity to bring great tasting food and drink to our tables.

'We recognise the huge role we can play in 'the great Norfolk food chain' and, through our award-winning 'Sourced Locally' brand, we continue to expand our family of 140 local growers and suppliers to help more businesses bring their products to store.'

He added: 'The more we can come together at events like this to help raise the profile of all that the county has to offer, the better.'

Guests tested their taste buds with a food quiz involving vegetarian amuse bouche – tables were fighting for the chance to win a magnum of Champagne and competition was fierce in a room packed with the county's most superior palates.

They enjoyed a sumptuous three-course dinner prepared by Julie Abbs Catering, based at East Lexham.

The starter was poached Drove Apples with a Fielding Cottage goats' cheese mousse, chilli jam, black pudding crumble and a parsnip straw and the main was a roulade of chicken and guineafowl with wild mushrooms and pearl barley, a confit leg lollipop, roasted seasonal vegetables and crushed saffron potatoes with a port and damson reduction.

Vegetarians ate a celeriac and wild mushroom roulade with a wild mushroom fritter, crushed saffron potatoes and a rich mushroom and herb cream sauce. Dessert was Norfolk raspberries with raspberry fool, raspberry vodka jelly and a freeze-dried raspberry crumble. Red and white wine was kindly provided by Cawston-based Broadland Wineries.

After dinner, the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival committee and Anglia Farmers presented a new award to mark the festival's 10th birthday, the Champion of Norfolk Food and Drink Award, which recognised outstanding service to the development of exceptional food and drink in the county over many years.

Shortlisted were Kate Royall, for her efforts to support Norfolk's crab industry and the increasingly-popular Crab and Lobster Festival in Cromer and Sheringham and Caroline Seaman for her work as a Norfolk Food Practitioner and development of the Joy of Food initiative.

The winner of the award was Richard Woolliams, who was praised for his tireless promotion of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival which has helped it to grow into the biggest celebration of its kind in the UK. The ceremony itself then began as hosts David Whiteley, from BBC East, and Angi Kennedy, editor of EDP Norfolk magazine, announced each category and the finalists before revealing the overall winner and inviting them on to the stage.

Here are this year's winners – our congratulations to them all.

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The EDP Norfolk Food and Drink Awards' Winners:

Beautiful Baking: sponsored by Norse:

FINALISTS: Buns of Fun, Sheringham; The Assembly House, Norwich; The Pennoyer Centre, Pulham St Mary; Biddy's Tearoom, Norwich.

WINNER: The Pennoyer Centre.

Judges said: 'Although a very difficult category to choose an overall winner, we were absolutely blown away with the passion, personality and care that goes into every delicious cake baked for the coffee shop. The impact these fabulous bakers have on the local community is clear to see and the team act as proud ambassadors for beautiful Norfolk cakes and bakes.'

Best Restaurant: sponsored by Swank Interiors:

FINALISTS: Stoke Mill, Stoke Holy Cross; Relish, Newton Flotman; The Duck Inn, Stanhoe; Brasted's, Framingham Pigot.

WINNER: Stoke Mill.

Judges said: 'Stoke Mill is an impressive converted water mill and upon entering you are treated to outstanding service and good quality locally-sourced food. Individual touches such as the flour bag presentation of the baked bread – a nod to the former use of the mill – make for a special dining experience.'

Field to Fork: sponsored by Easton and Otley College:

FINALISTS: Scotts Field Pork, near Thetford; Elveden Estate, Candi's Chutney, Dereham; White House Farm Pick Your Own, Norwich.

WINNER: Scotts Field Pork.

Judges said: 'We found it incredibly tough to choose a winner because all of the finalists had very different businesses – they were all united by their passion for what they were doing and it was simply inspirational to see some of the amazing work that is taking place taking place in this great county. However, we unanimously decided that this year's winner should be Scotts Field Pork.'

Best Independent Food and Drink Retailer: sponsored by the Eastern Daily Press and EDP Norfolk Magazine:

FINALISTS: Back to the Garden, Letheringsett; Harper Wells, Norwich; M&M Rutland, Melton Constable; Norfolk Deli, Hunstanton.

WINNER: M&M Rutland.

Judges said: 'M&M Rutland demonstrates perfectly that you do not have to be the biggest to be the best. The judge left the shop wishing there was a butchers like this around the corner from his home, as it was such a great shopping experience.'

Chef of the Year: sponsored by City College Norwich:

FINALISTS: Daniel Smith, Ingham Swan; Jeremy Parkes, Relish, Newton Flotman; Eric Snaith, Titchwell Manor; Robert Tragarz, The Lavender House, Brundall.

WINNER: Daniel Smith.

Judges said: 'This has been the most competitive group of chefs we have seen in the competition, so we can be sure that this category reflects some of the great eating places we have across the county. This year's winner presented a balanced menu with a high degree of craft skill, technique and passion for local provenance.'

Best School Food Project: sponsored by the Royal Norfolk Agricultural Association:

FINALISTS: The Patch, Sheringham; Heygate Farms, Swaffham; Cromer Academy; Chris Coubrough and Arthur Howell, Wells-next-the-Sea.

WINNER: The Patch, Sheringham.

Judges said: 'The judges were hugely impressed by the impact that this project is making, within the school itself and the wider community. The reach, scale and sustainability of what they are doing is fantastic and they've made themselves a terrific example of what can be achieved, above and beyond the simple concept of a school garden. With ambitious development plans, it's a model of a community smallholding that richly deserves the recognition of this award.'

Outstanding Front of House: sponsored by Broadland Wineries:

FINALISTS: The Ingham Swan; Brasteds, Framingham Pigot; The Assembly House, Norwich; Titchwell Manor.

WINNER: Brasteds.

Judges said: 'The welcoming team and exceptional menu ensure a visit to Brasteds is a truly memorable and enjoyable experience. Their personable approach and meticulous attention to detail is first class, complemented further by their knowledgeable wine-matching and friendly, yet not intrusive, service.'

Best Pub: sponsored by Prosper Hospitality Recruitment:

FINALISTS: The Swan, Loddon; The Kings Arms, Fleggburgh; The Berney Arms, Barton Bendish; The Anchor Inn, Morston:

WINNER: The Berney Arms.

Judges said: 'The Berney Arms is a perfect mix of quality food, service and environment careful package in peaceful surroundings complemented by enthusiastic staff and informed and professional management.'

The Pride of Norfolk: sponsored by Bernard Matthews:

FINALISTS: Richard Hughes, The Richard Hughes Cookery School, The Lavender House, Brundall; The Assembly House, Norwich; Bakers and Larners, Holt; Crisp Malting Group, Great Ryburgh; The English Whisky Co, Roudham.

WINNER: Bakers and Larners.

Judges said: 'In a retail sector dominated by large supermarkets, the judges felt that Bakers and Larners' food hall really did put the county on the national food map and that the unique nature of the location and ethos of the business had a strong impact on holidaymakers and food lovers around the UK.'

Outstanding Achievement: sponsored by Hansells Solicitors and Financial Advisers:

WINNER: Chris Coubrough.

Judges said: 'Chris has been at the forefront of food and drink in Norfolk for a long time and in addition to making a huge contribution to the county's eating out scene, he has also been instrumental in helping to nurture and train some of Norfolk's best chefs. His North Norfolk Food Festival is one of the flagship events of the Norfolk Food and Drink Festival and he works hard to enthuse the younger generation about the benefits of eating local, healthy food. His work as a patron has been invaluable to the festival and he is a deserving winner of this award.'