Judging underway for best in Sussex

Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2011/12 at the American Express Community Stadium
Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2011/12 at the American Express Community Stadium

JUDGES for the Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2012/13 are in the throes of selecting a shortlist of the very best food and drink producers, farmers, butchers, young chefs, food/farm shops, farmers markets and eating places in Sussex, to be announced at the South of England showground next month.

Kevin Powell, Joint Senior Partner of Knill James, sponsors of the Farmer of the Year award, explained to us what it is they will be looking for.

“This is our fourth year of sponsoring the award and we have extended the criteria for the Farmer of the Year to recognise farmers who have really gone the extra mile to promote Sussex fare and farming. For example, they might have made use of new technology or techniques in meeting the challenges of sustainable farming, shown an innovative approach in meeting the needs of an ever more discerning public or been notable for their economic contribution to the county and its community.”

Sponsors of the Best Sussex Eating Experience, Mayo Wynne Baxter, will continue to focus on eating places promoting local Sussex produce.

Said partner Simon Baillie-Hamilton: “We will be putting forward around ten of the best restaurants, cafés and food pubs in the county. By involving judges at a much earlier stage, some of the smaller restaurants and cafés, who may not enjoy the same footfall as the larger eateries, will have an even better opportunity to get involved this year.”

Likewise, for sponsors of the Sussex Food Producer of the Year award, The Southern Co-operative, the focus will be on local.

Phil Ponsonby, Chief Operating Officer for Food & Retail Services, said: “The process of shortlisting will be a challenge given the quality and range of Sussex food producers, but will enable us to give much greater support to those who get through in promoting and highlighting their achievements and raising the profile of a larger number of producers at a much earlier stage of the competition.”

For the Best Farmers Market, sponsored by Harveys, the emphasis will include community enhancement.

Said Miles Jenner, Joint Managing Director: “I have long been passionate about the wonderful produce in our county and it makes such perfect sense to encourage people to buy what is grown on their doorstep. But farmers markets are not only a great showcase for local produce they also provide an opportunity for farmers and producers to sell their wares directly to customers strengthening links between our rural and urban communities.”

Other categories are Best Butcher sponsored by Natural Farms, Sussex Young Chef of the Year jointly sponsored by Gram UK and Cheese Please, Best Drink Producer sponsored by Natural PR and Best Food/Farm shop sponsored by the Sussex Food & Drink Network.

The shortlist will be announced at the launch of the Sussex Food & Drink awards on Thursday June 7 at the South of England show by Chairman of the Judges Clive Beddall OBE, when the public will be invited to vote for their favourites.

Full details at www.sussexfoodawards.biz