Northamptonshire's best food and drink spots crowned at annual ceremony

The Hopping Hare, as winners of the Booker Food Pub of the Year, collecting their trophy from William Sitwell, Sophie Grigson and Craig Wilkinson (far right) from category sponsor Booker.
The Hopping Hare, as winners of the Booker Food Pub of the Year, collecting their trophy from William Sitwell, Sophie Grigson and Craig Wilkinson (far right) from category sponsor Booker.

The winners in the Carlsberg UK Northamptonshire Food and Drink Awards 2017/18 are celebrating being named the best of the county’s best.

The competition, now in its ninth year, is aimed at celebrating all that is great about Northamptonshire produce and drink, recognising excellence within the county’s dining venues and rewarding those who work hard within the culinary sector.

Workbridge Coffee Shop receiving their Independent Caf / Tea Room of the Year trophy

Workbridge Coffee Shop receiving their Independent Caf / Tea Room of the Year trophy

The results were announced at an awards dinner staged at Northampton’s Royal & Derngate on Wednesday (November 15).

Missing from the proceedings was Antonio Carluccio OBE who passed away just a week before being due to follow in the footsteps of chefs Marcus Wareing, Jason Atherton and Michel Roux OBE as the evening’s special guest.

The event began with a toast to the man known as the ‘Godfather of Italian cooking’ led by his good friend William Sitwell.

The evening also shone a spotlight on Eat Out Eat Well, a national scheme run in the county by Environmental Health Northamptonshire which rewards caterers and eateries who make it easier for their customers to make healthy choices.

It saw the top scoring gold venues from five of the seven borough and district councils being celebrated for their achievement.

They were Millie’s Café in Wellingborough, Mrs B’s in Rushden, Reg’s Café in Kings Sutton, The R Inn Hotel, Tapas Bar and Grill in Desborough, and The Stables Café in Althorp.

For the team at The Hopping Hare in Northampton, the evening was double cause for celebration for not only was 23-year-old Arturs Dzerins named runner-up in the ‘Booker Young Chef of the Year’ category, but the venue also took the ‘Booker Food Pub of the Year’ title.

Having been a regular finalist in the category and the runner-up last year, owner David George was thrilled to have clinched the top spot this time

"At the start of the year we set out to secure 2 AA Rosettes and win this title and we couldn’t be more delighted to have now achieved both,” said David.

“The trophy will be put on pride of place behind the bar for not only our loyal customers to see but also those newcomers whom we know will now be wanting to visit to try our fabulous food, great service and outstanding value for money for themselves, thanks to this accolade.”

The winners were (in presentation order and, in the case of two winners or runners-up, in alphabetical order):

Artisan Local Drink of the Year:
Winner: Triple ‘F’ Pure Apple Juice - Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore
Runner-up: Bell Ringer - Towcester Mill Brewery, Towcester

New Local Drink of the Year
Winner: Burnt Ox Blood - Nobby’s Brewing Company, Thrapston
Winner: Dream Catcher - Tea Lab Company, Northampton

Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year (Sponsored by Heygates Flour and Animal Feed)
Winner: Northamptonshire Blue - Hamm Tun Fine Foods, Hannington
Runner-up: Phipps Firkin - Neneview Dairy, Stanwick

Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year (Sponsored by Moulton College)
Winner: Honey, Lemon and Ginger Marmalade - Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston
Runner-up: Dark Espresso Chocolate - Seed and Bean, Corby
Runner-up: Gooseberry and Elderflower Gelato - Ganders Goat, Cottingham

One To Watch (Sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers)
Winner: Ganders Goat, Cottingham
Winner: Towcester Mill Brewery, Towcester

Farming Innovation Award (Sponsored by Weetabix Growers Group)
Winner: Mee Farmers, Nassington
Runner-up: Courteenhall Farms, Courteenhall

Healthy Eating Workplace of the Year (Sponsored by Northamptonshire County Council)
Winner: Weatherbys Ltd, Wellingborough
Runner-up: John Lewis Plc, Northampton
Runner-up: Mercedes AMG High Performance Powertrains, Brixworth

Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year (Sponsored by Pidy UK):
Winner: Workbridge Coffee Shop, Northampton
Runner-up: The Bread & Butter Factory, Northampton

Spice Restaurant of the Year (Sponsored by British Pepper & Spice)
Winner: The Exotic Dining, Kettering
Runner-up: Taste of Spice, Northampton

Restaurant of the Year (Sponsored by Whitco Catering and Bakery Equipment)
Winner: The Folly, Towcester
Runner-up: Tap and Kitchen, Oundle

Booker Food Pub of the Year (Sponsored by Booker)
Winner: The Hopping Hare, Northampton
Runner-up: The Wheatsheaf Pub & Dining Room, Northampton

Great Service Award (Sponsored by Northampton College)
Winner: The Folly, Towcester

Chef of the Year (Sponsored by Dawn Farms and Cordant People)
Winner: Richard Walker - Fawsley Hall Hotel, Fawsley
Runner-up: James Peck (Freelance Chef)

Booker Young Chef of the Year (Sponsored by Booker)
Winner: Victoria Austin - Highgate House, Creaton
Runner-up: Arturs Dzerins - The Hopping Hare, Northampton

Community Pub of the Year (Sponsored by Carlsberg UK)
Winner: The Dukes Arms, Woodford
Runner-up: The Sun Inn, Kislingbury

Weetabix Local Food Hero of the Year (Sponsored by Weetabix)
Winner: Steve Reid of Friars Farm, Northampton
Runner-up: The Good Loaf, Northampton

F&B Achiever of the Year (Sponsored by Howes Percival LLP)
Winner: Tom Warner and Christina Warner-Keogh - Warner Edwards, Harrington

Chairman’s Award
Winner: Alaric Neville - Phipps NBC, Northampton