Horsham’s food producers continue to punch above their weight as the finalists are announced for this year’s Sussex Food and Drink Awards.
Nearly one in four of those short-listed hails from our area, despite the district accounting for less than ten per cent of the total Sussex population.
“It’s a fantastic achievement,” said Hilary Knight, one of the Awards organisers. “Over the past few years the Horsham district has really grown as a foodie area.”
Known for the Big Nibble weekender on August 31 and the month long food festival that follows, Hilary praised Horsham district council for all the support it gives both local food businesses and the Sussex food and Drink Awards.
Now in their eighth year, the Awards highlight, recognise and support the region’s farmers and producers as well as the businesses that sell and promote their produce.
This year, Horsham’s own Local Produce Market and Steyning Farmers Market have both been nominated for Best Sussex Farmer Market.
PJ Aldred, director of Horsham Markets, said: “We are thrilled to reach the finals in this year’s Sussex Food & Drink Awards after two years of working hard with our producers developing Horsham Local Produce market.
“As the only twice weekly market, the market supports many local growers and makers, enabling customers to buy fresh produce and we hope voters will give us their backing.”
Vicky Crush, of Steyning Farmer’s Market, was just as pleased to be recognised as a finalist too. She said: “We feel privileged to be nominated and to have people’s votes.
“We have been in the final three in the last few years so it might be third time lucky.”
However, the ultimate decision be up to the public who can vote at www.sussexfoodawards.biz up until September 31.
Representing the district for the Best Sussex Eating Experience are The Countryman Inn, Shipley; The Crabtree, Lower Beeding; and The Green Man, Partridge Green.
Alan Vaughan, owner of the Countryman for the past 27 years, said: “We pride ourselves on producing traditional country pub fayre and are delighted to have made this year’s shortlist.
“All of us at the Countryman would like to take this opportunity to extend our heartfelt thanks to all our customers and would appreciate it if you could take the time out to vote for us.”
Jon Gilham-hills, 32, one of The Crabtree’s owners, said: “It’s a massive achievement to be open for two years and have been nominated for such great awards.
“We would really appreciate everyone to vote for us, we are a local business - 90 per cent of our produce is local - so it’s local people voting for a local business.”
Horsham’s two finalists for the Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop are Swains Farm Shop, Henfield and Village Larder, Washington.
Nina Hills, manager of Swains Farm Shop, said: “We are so excited and proud to be in the final of the Sussex Food and Drink Awards.
“As we are approaching our 30th birthday next year we would like to thank our customers, old and new, for their continued support.”
Finalist for Best Sussex Food Producer, Kate Glover, owner of Kate’s Cookhouse in Steyning, said: “We are thrilled and overwhelmed, it’s great to be part of supporting local food and drink.
“We went to the launch network event and our judge said we had the most nominations which was quite overwhelming because it’s just myself and my mum.
“We would just be delighted if people would now vote for us and would like to say a big thanks to our customers.”
Kate’s business is competing against The Raw Chocolate Company, based in Henfield, who said: “We were very honoured to be short-listed on the Sussex Food Awards this year.
“There are a great number of fantastic companies making gorgeous food in Sussex. To be recognised as worthy of an award is humbling.”
S K Hutchings, Partridge Green is our sole finalist for Sussex Butcher of the Year but the district has three of its breweries tussling for the Sussex Drink Producer of the Year: Hepworth and Co Brewers, Old Rudgwick Cider Society and Winston Wine Estate.
And competing for the Sussex Farmer of the Year Award are David Exwood, Itchingfield; John & Alison Ford, Partridge Green; and Tim & Charles Harrison, Rudgwick.
Many of the businesses short-listed as finalists for the 2013 awards will also be featured in this year’s Horsham District Food and Drink Festival and Local Produce Guide, which launches with ‘The Big Nibble’ event in Horsham on the weekend of August 31 and September 1, and will run for four weeks until September 29.