Fly the flag for Sussex food and drink

Sussex Food & Drink Awards SUS-151008-103345001
Sussex Food & Drink Awards SUS-151008-103345001

Headlines appear almost daily about food and drink price wars and the many other challenges faced by the UK’s food and farming industry.

Supporting your local food and drink producers has never been more important and there’s nowhere better to start than by voting for your favourites in this year’s Sussex Food and Drink Awards, celebrating its tenth year.

The Sussex Farmer of the Year, in partnership with Farmers Weekly, is a really important category in these awards and local farmers should be recognised for the high quality food they produce and the positive impact they have in shaping the rural landscape in Sussex.

The awards team is urging people to nominate great farmers who they know are making a positive difference and producing wonderful food at www.sussexfoodawards.biz

As with the Sussex Farmer of the Year category, Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige, Sussex Newcomer of the Year, sponsored by Spofforths and Sussex Street Food of the Year, sponsored by Food Rocks and Hepworth Brewery, are also open for nominations by the public and have already attracted an exciting list of contenders.

Awards judges have already shortlisted ten finalists for each of the other six categories, from farm to fork, including food and drink producers, farmers’ markets, food shops, butchers, restaurants, cafes and pubs who serve great locally produced fare.

Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, who organises the awards said: “There are many fantastic ways to find out more about your local food and drink producers and a good place to start is by visiting the awards website to see who has made it through as a finalist.

“From there you could visit your local farm or food shop and try some of the many glorious products that they stock. Look out for local and seasonal produce on restaurant and pub menus and check labels when you go shopping and try and buy a few of those produced in Sussex.”

Famers’ markets have grown enormously in popularity over the last decade and they are one of the best advocates in supporting local and regional food and drink producers, which is what the Sussex Food and Drink Awards is all about.

The top ten best-known Sussex farmers’ markets have made it onto this year’s finalist list, sponsored by Harveys, so why not visit your nearest and get those taste buds tingling and vote for your favourite.

You could also try out the many wonderful food and drink festivals this Summer, including the Wealden Food and Wine Festival on August 22-23 at the Bentley Wildfowl & Motor Museum; Brighton and Hove Food and Drink August Festival on August 29-31; the Big Nibble in Horsham on September 5-6; the Southdowns Folk Festival on September 26-27 in Bognor Regis and the Steyning & District Food & Drink Festival from September 6 to October 5.

Public voting opened at the beginning of July and thousands of votes have already been received.

Ten thousand people are expected to vote for their favourite food and drink heroes to win at www.sussexfoodawards.biz before voting closes on 21 September – it only takes a minute or two and every vote really does count.

The lucky winners and runners up in all ten categories will go on to receive their trophies at a glittering tenth birthday ceremony on January 28, 2016, hosted by patron to the awards, Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex.

The ceremony includes a spectacular seven-course Sussex produce banquet produced by Sodexo Prestige at the Amex Stadium.

For details on all the finalists who have made it through this year, more information about all the categories and how to vote for or nominate your favourite, visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz

Report and picture contributed by Isabel Gander.