Devon is truly magnificent. At Monday night’s annual Food & Drink Devon Awards the pinnacle of the county’s food and drink producers, hospitality businesses and speciality retailers celebrated in fantastic style at the Deer Park Country House Hotel. The ceremony was hosted, for the third year running, by BBC Radio 2's utterly brilliant Nigel Barden.
There was fierce competition in the ‘Taste of Devon Producer Awards’ for the coveted ‘Best Producer’ Award. Salcombe Distilling Co. was announced the winner with judges commenting that Salcombe Gin has ‘clean, unique and well thought through packaging and the product is beautifully rounded, balanced, smooth and elegant’. In addition, ‘the website has great imagery and interesting content’ and their social media was described as ‘faultless’.
South Milton’s Bell & Loxton claimed the ‘Best Packaging’ Award for its ‘striking, contemporary, standout branding’ on its Cold Pressed Rapeseed Oil. The ‘Best Retailer’ Award went to the Aune Valley Meats, whilst the ‘Best Online Retailer’ was awarded to Riverford Organic Farmers.
During the judging of over 200 products in the ‘Taste of Devon’ Awards there was one product which really stood out and received the only ‘Platinum’ Award given - Chocolate Heaven Made in Devon’s Rich Vanilla Fudge. Judges described it as ‘simply perfect’.
Barbara King, chair of Food & Drink Devon, comments: “During my first year as Chair I've been so impressed with the quality of the entrants into the awards. It is a fantastic reflection of the high standard of what's on offer in the county. The Awards this year received over 200 product entries, 16 entries in the ‘Retail’ Awards and 61 entries in the ‘Hospitality’ Awards, showing the strength and depth of food and drink in Devon.”
Barbara continues: “The local community here in Devon takes such pride in what it produces and is fiercely patriotic about the West Country, whilst the county’s hospitality and retail businesses strive to support these local producers. Both the producers and the industry on the whole have exacting standards which is matched with a high level of entrepreneurialism, innovation and hard work, helping to create an environment which produces the very best. Devon is lucky too because the climate and the nutritional values within the soil makes this a superb county for growing, rearing and producing food.”
On a final note, Barbara adds: “As an organisation, we have a moral duty to promote Devon businesses and produce beyond our borders. We're very proud of what we do and are now strongly building awareness and recognition across the UK and further afield.”
In the ‘Casual Dining’ Awards The Journeys End in Ringmore was the proud winner of the ‘Best Pub’ Award with the judges describing the food as having ‘mouth-watering aromas and excellent mixture of flavours, everyone should have a chance to eat here’. The ‘Best Bistro’ Award went to The Hotel Bar at Arundell Arms in Lifton and The Pantry in Kingsbridge won the ‘Best Café’ category. The Teign Canteen, which is a mobile street food kitchen in a converted 1977 Citroen van, took home the ‘Best Street Food’ Award.
This year’s highly prestigious ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant’ was awarded to Thurlestone Hotel, with judges commenting that ‘the beautifully presented dishes demonstrated a clear love of food, all cooked to perfection’.
Celebrating the best of fine dining other ‘Formal Dining’ Awards went to the exceptional Fatbelly Fred’s in Barnstaple who won the highly sought after ‘Best Restaurant’ Award, the chic and romantic Kentisbury Grange on the edge of Exmoor National Park triumphed as the ‘Best Hotel Restaurant’ and the Victoria Inn in Salcombe was victorious in the ‘Best Pub Restaurant’ category.
Following feedback from previous awards, two new categories have been created this year, therefore involving more members of Devon’s vibrant food and drink scene. ‘Best Cookery School’ went to Salcombe Distilling Co. for their recently launched Gin School and the Crediton Farmers Market was named ‘Best Farmers Market’ with judges’ commenting ‘a busy market with a great atmosphere’.
Commenting on the Awards, BBC Radio 2's Nigel Barden, says: “I’m a huge fan of Devon and am thrilled to be involved with the Food & Drink Devon Awards for the third year running." He continues: "The county is full of talented, enthusiastic and passionate food and drink producers, gifted chefs and focused retailers. It has so much to offer both those living in the region and visitors from further afield. These awards are a credit to all those who have entered and to the organisation itself."
Kind sponsors of this year’s Awards include Luscombe Drinks, Stephens Scown Solicitors, Peplows Chartered Accountants, RAW PR & Marketing, M.C Kelly, Black & White Asset Finance, Zip Water, exclusive media sponsor Taste Buds and print sponsors Inkreadible Labels and Hedgerow Print.
For more information on Food & Drink Devon please visit www.foodanddrinkdevon.co.uk and follow @lovetheflavour on Twitter.
Food & Drink Devon is flying the flag for Devon and its impressive offering of food and drink, get involved on social media using #FDDAwards17 and #flyingtheflag.