Sunday 09 Mar 2014
A school cook serving game pie and fruit terrine to hundreds of pupils; an Indian restaurant using an idea from the streets of Mumbai to serve up takeaways; a cider maker who decided to turn his apples into brandy; and one of the most popular food writers are all among the winners of this year's BBC Radio 4 Food & Farming Awards.
The Awards were launched by HRH The Prince of Wales in 2000 and, to mark the 10th anniversary this year, BBC Radio 4 are delighted that HRH The Prince of Wales and The Duchess of Cornwall both attended and took part in the awards at BBC Broadcasting House, London, hosted by the Director-General of the BBC, Mark Thompson.
They were joined by a star studded line-up of food and farming celebrities including Raymond Blanc, Mark Hix, Alex James, Angela Hartnett, Jimmy Doherty and Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall.
Raymond Blanc, chair of judges, said: "We are going through a maelstrom of change in food and farming, not just in Britain but around the world. What makes me feel more optimistic about the future is learning about the passion, hard work, skill and knowledge of the winners and finalists in these Awards.
"It has been an inspiration to hear stories of producers reviving food traditions that we came so close to losing, and of farmers helping to secure the future of their own local breeds of animal. We are beginning to reconnect with our food again – these awards are proof of that".
Just one of the success stories from this year's awards is former chef John Rankin, who won The Best Dinner Lady or Man Award, which was presented to him by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall. John arrived at Penair Secondary School in Truro, Cornwall, two years ago and his introduction of imaginative menus using carefully sourced local produce has seen the dinner queue grow from 30 to 300 diners.
Of John Rankin's win, judge Jeanette Orrey (the former dinner lady who worked with Jamie Oliver and is now a leading expert and campaigner for school food) said: "Long queues for school dinners are evidence of John's popularity. The quality of his food is exceptional and he's managed to involve the children, parents and school staff by running everything from butchery master classes to an impressive kitchen garden. Outstanding."
The full list of this year's winners is as follows:
BEST FOOD MARKET
The Goods Shed, Daily Farmers' Market & Food Hall, Canterbury, Kent
Presented by Raymond Blanc
BEST LOCAL FOOD RETAILER
A Ryan & Son, Butchers, Much Wenlock, Shropshire
Presented by Jimmy Doherty
BEST DINNER LADY OR MAN
John Rankin, Penair Secondary School, Truro, Cornwall
Presented by HRH The Duchess of Cornwall
BEST FOOD PRODUCER
Trealy Farm Charcuterie, Mitchel Troy, Monmouth
Presented by Mark Hix
BEST RETAIL INITIATIVE
Growfair – Pride of Cornwall, Bodmin, Cornwall
Presented by Rt Hon Hilary Benn MP, Secretary of State for Environment, Food & Rural Affairs
The Thali Café, Bristol
Presented by Angela Hartnett
FARMER OF THE YEAR
Andrew Dennis, Woodlands Organic Farm, Boston, Lincs
Presented by Alex James
THE DEREK COOPER AWARD
The Food Ethics Council
Presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
SPECIAL JUDGES AWARD
Julian Temperley, The Somerset Cider Brandy Company, Martock, Somerset
Presented by Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall
BBC FOOD PERSONALITY OF THE YEAR
Presented by HRH The Prince of Wales
The Food & Farming Awards will be broadcast on Friday 27 November at 9.00am on BBC Radio 4, with special awards editions of The Food Programme on Sunday 29 November at 12.30pm and Monday 30 November at 4.00pm.
The Goods Shed won The Best Food Market award. Opened in 2002, this renovated railway goods shed is now filled with a highly skilled network of food businesses, all under one roof, supplying and supporting each other. Meat comes from local farms, the fruit and veg from nearby growers and the market also boasts a stall with an incredible range of British farmhouse cheeses.
A. Ryan & Son took the award for Best Local Food Retailer. This family run butchers not only sources high quality meat from local farms but produces more than 40 different pies in a shop kitchen. Positive feedback from customers is clear from the queues that form outside its doors each day.
Trealy Farm Charcuterie was awarded Best Food Producer. James Swift, Graham Waddington and John Standerwick have been running their artisan charcuterie business producing British and continental style cured meats since 2004, taking inspiration and learning techniques for their products from their European travels.
A special Judges' award went to Julian Temperley in The Best Food Producer category. This cider maker not only produces an extraordinary product using 20 varieties of apple, but has had a positive effect on the local economy, buying up and preserving Somerset orchards. He has also revived the tradition of distilling cider to produce a brandy.
Growfair – Pride of Cornwall was given The Best Retail Initiative award. Developed as a way of giving fresh Cornish grown produce a premium brand, this initiative gives farmers in the county a better price and makes it easier for customers to buy locally grown food.
The Best Take-Away award went to The Thali Café in Bristol – an Indian chain which not only sources ingredients from a nearby farm but has also managed to come up with an innovative way of serving its takeaways. Three thousand customers now own "tiffin boxes", traditional Indian food containers which they take into the cafés to be filled with food. Because the metal containers are re-useable they save on waste.
Andrew Dennis from Boston, Lincs was awarded Farmer of the Year. Andrew's driving principle is to reconnect people to the source of their food and his organic box scheme is proving to be a recession buster. He's reintroduced local rare breeds to his farm and demonstrates his passion for educating people about farming by encouraging schools to visit.
This year's Derek Cooper Award (named after the first presenter of The Food Programme) went to The Food Ethics Council. Providing independent advice for a fairer food system, their work on difficult issues and pressure points in food and farming sets the agenda and sparks debate.
And Nigel Slater took the coveted BBC Food Personality of the Year award.
The Food Programme is broadcast on BBC Radio 4 every Sunday at 12.30pm and repeated on Mondays at 4.00pm. Farming Today is on BBC Radio 4 every weekday morning at 5.45am and on Saturdays at 6.35am. You can listen again online at bbc.co.uk/radio4.
The finalists in the Farmer of the Year category will be featured on Farming Today in the week of the awards ceremony.
This year's judging panel is chaired by Raymond Blanc – chef, restaurateur and broadcaster; Mark Hix – chef, restaurateur and food writer; Alex James – writer, farmer and broadcaster; Kath Dalmeny – Policy Director, Sustain: the alliance for better food and farming; Jeanette Orrey – former primary school dinner lady, now Food for Life Partnership, School Meals Policy Advisor; Dr Helen Crawley – public health nutritionist and Director of the Caroline Walker Trust; Rose Prince – journalist, food and cookery writer; Lord Haskins – farmer and former chairman of Northern Foods; Robert Clark, Retail Analyst; Simon Parkes, food journalist, broadcaster and former Michelin inspector; and Sheila Dillon, food journalist and presenter of BBC Radio 4's The Food Programme.
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