Last chance to vote in Sussex Food and Drink Awards

Sally Gunnell OBE, awards patron and Olympian, will be co-presenting at the ceremony. Photo: Southern News & Pictures (SNAP)
Sally Gunnell OBE, awards patron and Olympian, will be co-presenting at the ceremony. Photo: Southern News & Pictures (SNAP)

Thousands of people in Sussex have already voted for their top choices in the Sussex Food & Drink Awards 2013/14, seeking the best food and drink producers, farmers and places serving and selling local produce.

Voting closes on Monday September 16, so organisers are urging people to take a look at www.sussexfoodawards.biz and get voting for their favourites.

Said Paula Seager, co-director of Natural Partnerships CIC, which runs the awards, “Now in its eighth year, the awards have 68 finalists across eight categories and the standard is highest we have ever seen, so the heat really is on to see who makes through to the grand finalist list which we announce later in the year.

“Businesses from across the region have made it onto the list including eight finalists from Brighton and Hove, 18 from East Sussex and 42 from West Sussex.”

The county is becoming renowned for its innovation in making artisan food products and this year’s Sussex Food Producer of the Year category, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative, represents so much of what is great about the region. The impressive finalist line up includes superb national award-winning cheesemakers, traditional English cake makers, mouthwatering pie makers and bakers, luxury handmade and raw chocolate producers and hassle free home baking kits.

The Best Sussex Drink Producer category, sponsored by Sussex Food Network, not only offers some of the county’s, but the country’s very best brewers, wine producers and cider makers as well as some innovative and unusual non-alcoholic drink producers.

The Best Sussex Food/Farm Shop category sponsored by Natural PR and Cheese Please presents a delightful spread of both new and old from across the region, each offering their own unique take on bringing plough to plate.

From traditional family butchers who have passed down their skills from generation to generation, to resourceful outlets who specialise in organic and locally sourced meats or farm shops that have managed to diversify and build a reputation in quality and zero carbon footprint – they are all excellently represented in this year’s Sussex Butcher of the Year category sponsored by Natural Farms.

Residents of Sussex have an outstanding choice of where they choose to dine out from Michelin star restaurants, country pubs, elegant fine dining, trendy city establishments and gastro pubs, all of which are reflected in the finalist line up in this year’s Best Sussex Eating Experience category, sponsored by Mayo Wynne Baxter.

Famers Markets have grown enormously in popularity over the last decade and they are one of the best advocates in supporting local and regional food and drink producers which is what the Sussex Food and Drink Awards is all about. All the best-known Sussex Farmers Markets have made it onto this year’s finalist list for this category sponsored by Harvey’s of Lewes - let battle commence!

The Best Sussex Farmer of the Year category, which is sponsored by Spofforths this year, offers members of the public the chance to vote for their own personal favourite and whoever ends up with this coveted title, it is always a pleasure to see those at the grass roots of the food industry rewarded for their continued efforts in keeping it best and British!

There are still a few days left to nominate your favourite young chef with lines closing at midnight on 6 September – link from the home page of the awards website. The six finalists in the Sussex Young Chef of the Year category, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige, will be announced in the next few weeks and they will then go on to the all important cook-off which takes place at the end of October.

Tickets are now on sale for the awards banquet, the foodie event of the year, hosted by Sally Gunnell OBE, awards patron and Olympian, and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex.

To vote for your favourite and find out more, visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz.