A dream come true: I got invited to attend the Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards at the Royal & Derngate.
If you know me well and read this blog a lot, you will know how much I love and support the local food scene, especially the independents.
So to be invited to the Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards is literally the highlight of my career!
Those who are unfamiliar with the awards, The Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food & Drink awards is an annual celebration and recognition of excellence within Northamptonshire’s food and drink sector which celebrated its 11th year this year.
It rewards those who work in the county’s dining and drinking venues as well as those who work so hard in the culinary sector.
It was held once again at Royal & Derngate which is one of my favourite local theatre venues and it was especially grand to hear a speech from Jo Gorden, Chief Executive of the theatre.
There were also talks from Rachel Mallows MBE and Anna Murby from the awards, Bruce Ray from Carlsberg, Peter Horrocks the CEO of SEMLEP and special guest Olly Smith, award-winning wine expert and foodie columnist which was certainly a special treat!
I’ll be honest, due to the nature of the lighting inside the theatre, it was quite difficult to get good photos, but you can also view what happened in my highlights section on Instagram!
But here is a round-up of what happened during a very special evening and who took home the awards!
Arriving and drinks reception
As we arrived, I started feeling nervous as it suddenly hit me that “I’m actually here!”.
We made our way through the beautiful foyer of the Royal & Derngate where we found drink receptions from Warner’s who were supplying their Sloe Gin cocktail which was super zesty and gave us the buzz for the rest of the evening.
Jelley’s Vodka were there too with their vodka reception drinks too consisting of their classic vodka cocktails which I didn’t get a chance to try on this occasion, but I know they have a supper club coming up in Northampton which I’m definitely going to book!
We also had a selection of canapes served to us from meat and vegetarian dishes. I was very fond of the Mushroom Tartlets!
It was amazing to see all the crowds gather and I felt a mix of nerves and excitement knowing I was in a room full of amazing and inspirational local food businesses of whom I have looked up to, some of whom I knew their faces and some I didn’t, but I was hoping throughout the evening I would be able to introduce myself…
As we entered the auditorium, I couldn’t believe how swish and swanky everything looked and just how different they managed to transform the place from your regular theatre to a full showstopping awards venue.
The green sparkling lights everywhere, with the tables decorated with big lanterns and flowers, with wine and drinks already on the table; it was definitely going to be a night to remember!
The night consisted of a 3-course meal cooked by the cooking students from Northampton College and I have to commend them for being able to cook for over 500 people in one night. It was an astonishing achievement which they should be very proud of.
The starter was a nice pick and mix Northamptonshire sharing platter of salt beef, gammon, potted beef, smoked salmon brandade, cheese, apple & fig chutney and sourdough which was served with a Vinivision Sauvignon Blanc Semillon wine which washed it all down very nicely.
The cheese was also supplied by local producers and Friars Farm supplied the chutney – a fantastic way to showcase local.
Main course was especially yummy, consisting of Black Gate Beef and Northamptonshire Ale Pie with mash, cepe ketchup and pea salsa which was really rich and indulgent.
What I especially loved to hear was that all the vegetables we were eating on our plates were all from local markets in Northampton which was fantastic that they were showcasing just how great supporting local can be and taste as well as how close you can get your own.
And last, but not least; we had a Northamptonshire marmalade bread & butter bread pudding served with white chocolate and blackberry ripple goats milk ice cream which was especially sweet and really melted the bread and butter pudding once I took a bite.
This was served with a very sweet dessert wine which was sugary and sweet!
We also had some yummy chocolates for after, which were supplied by Belflair Chocolates which was a nice way to finish the whole meal.
The runner’s up and winners
Here are the runner’s up’s and winners for this years Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food & Drink Awards:
Artisan Local Drink of the Year Sponsored by Warner’s Distillery
Bad Bitch – Bad Boy Cider, Bakers Bangers & Bad Boy Cider, Pipewell.
Winner Black Star – Phipps NBC, Northampton.
Runner-up: Triple ‘F’ Medley – Floyers’ Fruit Farm Flore.
Highly commended: Cheeky Charlie – Healy’s of Winwick
Artisan Local Drink of the Year Sponsored by Warner’s Distillery
Winner: Frutas Do Bosque Catharina Sour – Boot Town Brewery Brewery, Burton Latimer.
Runner-up: Triple ‘F’ Mr. Pippin – Floyers’ Fruit Farm, Flore.
‘Artisan Local Savoury Product of the Year’
Winner: Little Bertie Hamm Tun Fine Foods
Runner-up: Evergreen Chutney Evergreen Art Cafe
Artisan Local Sweet Product of the Year Sponsored by Moulton College
Winner: Raspberry Fruity Chocolate Belflair Chocolates, Brackley.
Runner-up: Honey, Orange & Whisky Marmalade Nature’s Fayre, Thrapston.
Artisan Local Vegetarian / Vegan Product of the Year sponsored by Daily Bread Cooperative Northampton
Winner: Zucchini and Walnut Cake (vgn) SophistiCake Creations, Northampton.
Runner-up: Chocolate & Cherry Cake with Coconut Cream Sol Haven Moulton.
One to Watch Sponsored by Whitworth Bros. Ltd Flour Millers
Winner: Xachoh Drinks, Silverstone.
Runner-up: What’s Poppin’ Corn, Northampton
Independent Café / Tea Room of the Year sponsored by Pidy UK
Winner: Ten Hands Cafe Bar, Towcester
Runner-up: Evergreen Art Cafe
Chef of the Year Co-sponsored by Dawn Farms and Route 1 express couriers
Winner: Danny Tompkins – Danny Tompkins Chef, Harlestone
Runner-up: James Peck Burnt Lemon Catering
Runner-up: Seamus Bryans, Freelance Chef
Booker Wholesale Young Chef of the Year sponsored by Booker Wholesale
Winner: Jack Matthews – The White Horse
Runner-up: Kenny Markham – KDR Events Ltd
Community Pub of the Year sponsored by Carlsberg UK
Winner: The Red Lion, Thornby
Runner-up: The Lamplighter, Northampton
Booker Food Pub of the Year sponsored by Booker
Winner: The Plough at Shutlanger
Runner-up: The Red Lion, East Haddon
Restaurant of the Year sponsored by Whitco Catering & Bakery Equipment Ltd
Winner: Murrays Restuarant at Whittlebury Park Golf Club
Winner: Tresham Restaurant Rushton Hall
Runner-up: The Hopping Hare
World Cuisine Restaurant of the Year sponsored by British Pepper & Spice
Winner: Jynja Jynja, Northampton
Runner-up: Truva Charcoal Grill & Bar, Towcester
The F&B Achiever of the Year sponsored by Howes Percival LLP
Winners: Shena Cooper of Fruitful Abundance Northampton, Crick
Runner-up: Cheryl Thallon of Viridian Nutrition, Daventry
Weetabix Food Hero of the Year sponsored by Weetabix UK
Winner: Up The Field, Little Irchester
Runner-up: Shop Zero
Runner-up: Friars Farm
Great Service Award sponsored by Northampton College
Winner: Apothocoffee Shop Earls Barton
Dining For All with NAB – Sight Support for Northamptonshire
Runner-up: The Red Lion Cranford
Overall, it was a night to remember and Josh and I found ourselves staying right till the very end at 1am dancing away at the after awards disco! It truly was a celebration of all things local and food & drink in Northamptonshire.
It was also fab to take home our own Carlsberg Northamptonshire Food & Drinks Awards goodie bag filled with local goods from Carlsberg, Weetabix, Warner’s and much more! I will wear my bag with pride!
It was lovely to mingle with people such as Jessica and Channelle from the Pilkington Comms team, Lisa from The Beauty Type, Friars Farm team, Vicky from The Little Bakery of Happiness, the Phipps NBC team, Sarah from BiteMe Spices, Mike of Mogfood and many others.
Thank you to everyone who I got the opportunity to meet who I’ve spoken to via social media but hadn’t met until that evening.
Thank you to the Carlsberg Food & Drink Awards for inviting me – it was a true honour to be invited and to showcase the evening. I hope I can get the opportunity to go next year and to be more involved with the local food and drink scene.
Have you ever visited or tried the local producers and venues in Northamptonshire?