Devon’s talented food and drink scene was alive at Monday (3rd October) night’s 11th Food Drink Devon Awards.
Over 330 individuals from the county’s finest food and drink producers, hospitality and catering businesses and speciality retailers celebrated in style at the esteemed awards ceremony, held at Crowne Plaza Plymouth with its breath-taking views overlooking Plymouth Sound.
The ceremony was hosted by Tony Hawks, Devon-based comedian, author and food lover who regularly appears on BBC Radio Four panel shows ‘Have I Got News For You’, ’Just A Minute’ and ‘I’m Sorry I Haven’t A Clue’.
Launched at, and in partnership with, the Met Office to celebrate sustainability and shine a light on businesses going that extra mile in their endeavours to be environmentally friendly, Food Drink Devon’s new ‘Sustainability Pioneer Award’ received a staggering 27 entries in its first year.
‘Hospitality Sustainability Pioneer’ was awarded to ethical, organic pub, The Bull Inn, Totnes owned by Geetie Singh-Watson; with carbon neutral dairy farm, Langage Farm near Smithaleigh who are famed for their delicious dairy products, named ‘Producer Sustainability Pioneer’.
Elly Wentworth, head chef at The Angel, Dartmouth and contestant on the BBC’s Great British Menu was the first winner of Food Drink Devon’s ‘Chef of the Year’ award. The award acknowledges the explosion of talented chefs in the region who have been driving innovation, championing local produce and producing exceptional quality food.
After sampling Elly’s creations, judges described her as ‘a truly exceptional talent producing immaculate, attractive and cleverly presented dishes, all cooked to perfection’.
Competition was fierce in the ‘Taste of Devon Product Awards’ with a staggering 270 product entries, resulting for the first time in the awards’ history, the prestigious ‘Product of the Year’ category having to be split into ‘Food Product of the Year’ and ‘Drink Product of the Year’.
The ‘Food Product of the Year’ accolade went to Granny Gothards for their Strawberries & Cream ice cream.
Utopian Brewing fought off stiff competition to claim ‘Drink Product of the Year’ for their Doppelbock strong larger.
From the 270 product entries, all of which were blind-tasted by independent judges, 10 really impressed achieving a faultless score of 100% and a ‘Platinum Award’. Deserving producers and their products were Andrew King Chocolates and their Signature Eighteen, Blakewell Smokehouse for their Devon Hot Smoked Salmon, Bell & Loxton for their Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil, Butter Bike Co’s Honey Roast Peanut Butter, Chocella and their Out of this World, Ilfracombe Chocolate Emporium’s Three C’s Bar, Salcombe Dairy and their luxurious Evening Star Hot Chocolate, WILD Gelato and their Plant-Based Chocolate Gelato as well as Granny Gothards and Utopian Brewing for both of their ‘Product of the Year’.
Products in the ‘Taste of Devon Product Awards’ achieving a score of 90-99% were awarded ‘Gold’ awards of which there were 112, with a further 83 obtaining ‘Silver‘ awards for scoring 85-89%.
This year’s highly prestigious ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant’ award was presented to Twenty Seven in Kingsbridge, commenting on Jamie Rogers’ restaurant, judges said ‘the whole dining experience was truly exceptional’ and ‘a destination restaurant with standout dishes that seriously impressed’.
The ‘Best Restaurant’ award went to Plymouth’s exceptional The Fig Tree @36 with judges ‘loving the buzzy atmosphere and delicious food in the intimate restaurant’.
The Tors, in Belstone near Okehampton, was the proud winner of the ‘Best Pub’ category with judges commending them for their ‘appetising food and happy, helpful and pleasant staff’.
For the second consecutive year Lynmouth Bay Cafe took home the accolade for ‘Best Café’, judges raved about the ‘delicious food, scrumptious cakes and very friendly staff who went the extra mile’.
Serving delicious homemade pizzas from their converted vintage horse box, The Pizza Garden in Exmouth was the successful winner of ‘Best Takeaway’ with judges particularly commending their Neapolitan pizza.
In the ‘Retail Awards’ ‘Best Online Retailer’ went to Bratton Clovelly’s Eversfield Organic, with judges highly rating the overall experience and describing the packaging and service as ‘exceptional’.
The Kitchen @25, Crediton triumphed in the ‘Best Retailer’ category, impressing judges with their ‘range of Devon produce and knowledgeable and friendly staff’.
A special thank you goes to the sponsors of the awards Partners&, Bays Brewery, Caterfood, M&B Edible Oils, Westcountry Fruit Sales, Bishop Fleming, Impact Design & Marketing, Vale Labels, Stephens Scown, inkREADible Labels, Hedgerow Print and official media partner Taste Buds.
The evening’s canapés and three-course dinner were created by Food Drink Devon board director and Master Chef of Great Britain, Peter Gorton and Ted Ruewell, head chef of Crowne Plaza Plymouth.
The menu featured fabulous local produce from members and food and drink sponsors including Bays Brewery, Salcombe Gin, New London Light, Luscombe Drinks, Sandridge Barton, Lyme Bay Winery, Veyseys Butchers, Stone’s Honey, Crab Shed Salcombe, Ebb Tides, Blakewell Smokehouse, Sharpham Cheese, Aune Valley Meat, Granny Gothards, The Curator Coffee Roasters, Devonia Spring Water, Salcombe Dairy and Westcountry Fruit Sales.
Commenting on the awards, Chair of Food Drink Devon, Greg Parsons, said:
“Covering food production, preparation, retailing, cooking and service, the Food Drink Devon Awards honour businesses demonstrating a consistent commitment to quality, sustainability, provenance, excellent customer service and support for their local communities and other local businesses. Myself and the board of directors wish to congratulate all of this year’s deserved winners and shortlisted entrants.”
Each year judging for the awards is carried out by a panel of independent and unbiased experts including a number of celebrated names from the region. All results and winners are verified by an independent adjudicator, with entrants receiving the opportunity to benefit from invaluable feedback provided by the panel.
Food Drink Devon is committed to increasing the county’s profile, both nationally and internationally and represents a membership of Devon’s leading food and drink producers, speciality retailers, hospitality and catering businesses.
Through working with like-minded businesses, together they showcase Devon as a county where the use of fantastic quality, seasonal and local produce is standard. The organisation and its members share a commitment to enjoy, inspire and discover more about food and drink. Look out for their green heart logo which is carried by over 350 producers and businesses across Devon.
For more information on Food Drink Devon visit fooddrinkdevon.co.uk and follow @FoodDrinkDevon on Twitter, Facebook, Instagram and LinkedIn.