Food and Farming Awards 2010 And the winners are ...

Inside Darts Farm Shop, winner of best food retailer.

BBC FOOD CHAMPION: Richard Bertinet
BEST FOOD MARKET: Stroud Farmers Market
BEST TAKEAWAY: Mr Dutchy's Caribbean Takeaway
BEST "DINNER LADY"/ PUBLIC CATERER: Bob Davies, Easingwold Secondary School
BEST RETAIL INITIATIVE: Sainsbury's Carbon Footprint Initiative
DEREK COOPER AWARD: Richard Lutwyche

Judging the Awards

Sheila Dillon

Sheila Dillon

There wasn't exactly a theme to this year's Food and Farming Awards but great bread and the revival of our native animal breeds were a kind of thread on an occasion that was funny, moving and a reminder of what counts.

The bread was from baker Alex Gooch winning Best Food Producer in the most tightly contested play-off we've seen in 11 years of the awards. He made bread that produced total silence around a table of judges that included chef and food writer Mark Hix and Michelin-starred chef, Angela Hartnett.

We were all thinking variations of ... "could there really be bread this good - and for sale - in Britain?" There is. And not only from him. The new BBC Food Champion is Richard Bertinet whose baking classes, books and campaigning for the Real Bread Campaign made him a hands-down winner.

The breeds were highlighted by Farmer of the Year, farm manager Jonathan Birchall, who on 2250 acres of the Kings Walden estate in Hertfordshire runs a mix of rare breed animals. And the reason he can? The life's work of Richard Lutwyche who nearly 20 years ago when working in the Rare Breeds Survival Trust, he realised that the only way to preserve our native farm breeds was to persuade us all to eat them.

At that time some of the breeds we'd lived with, and on, for hundreds and in some cases over a thousand years were on the brink of extinction. Now because of his work promoting breeds such as Gloucester Old Spot pigs and Wiltshire Horn sheep, the animals that our ancestors developed to suit our different landscapes are farmed from Caithness to Cornwall. Richard won the Derek Cooper Award ...

And then the most remarkable shop won the Best Local Food Retailer Award: Darts Farm Shop in Topsham, Devon - they'll take you fishing, sell you fruit and veg from their own farm, serve you fish and chips fresh from day boats out of Brixham and Exmouth, and give you a taste of their home-made cider.

They were followed by Sainsbury's, pulling off the Best Retail Initiative. They've invested in a research programme that benefits dairy farmers, making them more efficient, and helping them to stay in a business where it's become difficult to make a profit on milk.

Wye Valley Brewery won our new Best Drinks Producer Award, for producing beers that are as terroir-ish as the best Bordeaux. Ex-army chef Bob Davies is our Best Public Caterer for the remarkable fresh meals he turns out five days a week for over a thousand pupils and staff at Easingwold Secondary School.

Best Takeaway was won by the remarkable Mr Dutchy's Caribbean in Northampton - a fast-food venture that's all about slow cooking, using the best quality ingredients and lots of fresh herbs, with more than a soupcon of passion.

Best Food Market was the weekly farmers' market in Stroud - not a posh Cotswolds shopping destination but a market in a working-class town that's become a community hub and changed a town hit hard by nearby superstores. It's brought people back in and kick-started dozens of businesses.

Winners all - reminding us that out there, people go on making things to the highest standards, helping to make their communities better and healthier.

Food & Farming Awards 2010

Sheila Dillon presents this year's BBC Food and Farming Awards.

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