Voting opens for finalists of Sussex Food and Drink Awards

Nicholas Soames launches the competition by hitting the gong'Sussex Food Awards Launch at The South of England Show 06/06/13

Nicholas Soames launches the competition by hitting the gong'Sussex Food Awards Launch at The South of England Show 06/06/13

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Nicholas Soames MP opened public voting for finalists in the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2013/14 at the South of England Show VIP opening breakfast.

Hosted by Penelope Keith CBE DL on Thursday, June 6, speakers included Peter Kendall, president of the NFU, Jane King, editor of Farmers Weekly, and Andy Marshall, poultry expert, on the topic of food provenance.

Peter Kendall president of the NFU speaks at the opening ceremony.'Sussex Food Awards Launch at The South of England Show 06/06/13

Peter Kendall president of the NFU speaks at the opening ceremony.'Sussex Food Awards Launch at The South of England Show 06/06/13

The 68 finalists in this year’s awards were nominated by the public and assessed by an expert panel of judges along with newly appointed chair William Goodwin and are published on www.sussexfoodawards.biz, where people can vote online. All agreed that the standard is incredibly high this year and the competition is going to be extremely tough.

Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, who runs the awards with Hilary Knight, said: “It’s going to be another really exciting year for the awards with some truly excellent candidates including lots of new names, as well as some familiar ones, who have made it onto the shortlist.

“We are so lucky that Sussex is blessed with a wealth of glorious food and drink, from the beautiful South Downs and its coastal waters, to the huge number of creative and hard-working producers and manufacturers in the county who are creating award-winning food and drink every day,” she added.

The Sussex Food and Drink Awards, now in their eighth year, are the only awards that highlight, recognise and support Sussex farmers and producers and the businesses that sell and promote their produce.

Penelope Keith and Nicholas Soames MP with sponsors of the awards.'Sussex Food Awards Launch at The South of England Show 06/06/13

Penelope Keith and Nicholas Soames MP with sponsors of the awards.'Sussex Food Awards Launch at The South of England Show 06/06/13

Olympic gold medal winner, Sally Gunnell OBE, is patron to the awards and a great supporter of locally produced food believing that it is the way forward for a healthy lifestyle.

This year they include:

Sussex Farmer of the Year Award sponsored by Spofforths

Best Sussex Food Producer sponsored by The Southern Co-operative

Best Sussex Eating Experience sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter

Best Sussex Farmers Market sponsored by Harveys

Sussex Butcher of the Year sponsored by Natural Farms

Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop sponsored by Cheese Please & Natural PR

Sussex Drink Producer of the Year sponsored by the Sussex Food & Drink Network

A slight change this year is that the nominations for The Sussex Young Chef of the Year will remain open until the end of July, when the top six will be announced and go forward as usual for the cook-off in the autumn.

Voting for these prestigious awards is open until September 13 and the top three which receive the most votes in each category and re-considered by the awards judges, will become grand finalists. These will be announced in November and all grand finalists will be invited to THE foodie event of the year, the Sussex Food & Drink Awards banquet at the American Express Community Stadium on Thursday 30th January 2014.

To see who made it onto the shortlist and to vote for your favourite, visit www.sussexfoodanddrinkawards.biz - details of how to text your vote can also be found on the website.

The Sussex breakfast at the launch was created by Jimmy Gray, current Sussex Young Chef of the Year, and the team from Jeremy’s at Borde Hill.

This paper is a media partner of the awards.