Some of the county’s finest cafés have been battling it out in the hope of being named ‘Independent Café/Tea Room of the Year’ in this year’s Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards.
The competition, devised by Northamptonshire Enterprise Partnership (NEP), is now in its seventh year and is again aimed at celebrating all that is great about local produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work so hard within the culinary sector.
Using the details from their entry forms and the reviews from mystery shopping of all the entries which flooded in from all corners of the county, the six finalists chosen to compete at the bake-off at Northampton College were (in alphabetical order):
Beckworth Emporium, Mears Ashby
Dreams Coffee Lounge, Northampton
Evergreen Art Café, Daventry
The Apothocoffee Shop, Earls Barton
The Forest Café, Hartwell
The Park Café, Abington Park, Northampton
The venues were asked to prepare, cook and serve a scone, a signature cake or biscuit and a drink to a team of ‘diners’, including Dawn Knott from category sponsor Pidy UK, Chief Executive of Northamptonshire County Council, Paul Blantern, and Northampton North MP Michael Ellis, who is himself no stranger to baking glory being the current Parliamentary cupcake champion.
And while they sieved, whisked and sliced they were being watched and scored on everything from hygiene to organisation, service and of course taste by a panel of judges which included food consultant Claire Jezard, former cookery school director Mary Laing and Deborah Manger, a contestant in the 2013 series of the BBC’s ‘Great British Bake Off’ who, as a judge at the event for the last three years, was impressed by all those taking part; “I’m always thrilled to be invited to this wonderful event and each year, I can’t quite believe that the standard could possibly get any better – yet it does!” explained Deborah.
“From their use of fine local ingredients, to their impressive piping and decorating skills, not to mention their delicious finished products, each of these venues was worthy of the title and I urge anyone in search of a tasty treat to go out and try them!” she enthused.
The six finalists now have to wait until Thursday October 15 to discover their fate when the winners and runners-up in all 18 categories will be announced at the Awards Dinner taking place at Royal & Derngate in Northampton. Tickets priced at £100 (plus VAT) or £900 (plus VAT) for a table of ten are available by calling Rachel Mallows on 01933 664437 or emailing firstname.lastname@example.org