BBC Radio 4 has announced the winners of the Food and Farming Awards 2014 at a ceremony held in Bristol.
Jamie Oliver presented the Cook of the Year Award to Tony Mulgrew, a school chef from Halifax, whose determination to produce the best food possible for his high school – which includes growing food in school – has attracted interest from around the world. And Best Street Food/Takeaway has been awarded to the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company, which combines foraged seashore ingredients with fresh local seafood – all served from its mobile Beach Shacks.
Best Initiative in British Food was awarded to Feeding The 5,000, a charity which focuses on reducing food waste. Their inspiring projects include The Pig Idea and Gleaning Network.
Best Food Producer was Gigha Halibut, who specialise in sustainable Scottish Atlantic halibut; and Outstanding Farmer of the Year went to Neil Darwent from Frome, who set up Free Range Dairy, a farmer-led initiative to promote the value of milk from pasture.
Raymond Blanc, judge and award giver at the event, said: “I don’t think you’ll find a list that features more inspirational people than this one – an amazing school cook who is changing so many young lives through food, right through to a team of young campaigners who’ve helped people all over the world understand the problem of food waste. These awards have also uncovered so many stories of great tasting food… producers, farmers, markets and retailers… all of them have made me feel excited about food in the UK… it makes me want to travel around the country and visit them all!”
Celebrity chef Cyrus Todiwala was named Food Personality of the Year. The judges said: “Cyrus is as passionate about the catering industry as he is about curry. His approach to teaching and sharing his passion on and off the screen is undoubting … He epitomises what a celebrity chef should be.”
Tom Jaine, organiser of the Oxford Food Symposium and editor of The Good Food Guide, received the Derek Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award. The judges said: “Tom’s knowledge and experience and the ability to cross the boundaries of history, culture, and gastronomy take him well beyond the status of an ordinary food critic, as an intellectual committed to bringing debates about food to the centre of public attention.”
Derek Cooper, the founding presenter of the Food Programme and a member of the first judging panel in 2000, who passed away recently, was honoured at the ceremony.
For the first time in the 14-year history of the Awards, the line-up of finalists covered every part of the UK, and also broke the record for public response, with the highest number of entries ever being received.
Two special editions of The Food Programme showcasing the Awards can be heard on BBC Radio 4: The Food Programme, Sunday 4 May at 12.30pm and The BBC Food and Farming Awards 2014 on Monday 5 May at 3pm.
Full list of winners:
Best Local Food Retailer
Edge & Son Butcher (Wirral): A fifth generation butchers that places great emphasis on animal welfare, rare breeds and provenance. Rare among butchers these days Edge and Son have their own slaughterhouse, allowing them to work closely with farmers within a 25-mile radius of the shop. They also work with schools in the area, helping pupils to understand food production.
Cook of the Year
Tony Mulgrew (Halifax): Tony’s drive and determination to produce the best food possible at Ravenscliffe High School has led him to become a major figure in the Soil Association’s Food for Life Partnership and to become one of the founders of Incredible Edible Todmorden. His approach to school menus and growing food in schools has attracted interest from around the world.
Best Food Producer
Gigha Halibut (Scotland): Based on the Scottish island of Gigha, the team specialise in the artisan production of sustainable Scottish Atlantic halibut which is smoked to order using oak chips made from whisky barrels from the Kilchoman Distillery on Islay. A technique of rearing the fish in land-based tanks means wild stocks are protected and no antibiotics are required in the process.
Best Drinks Producer
Thornbridge (Derbyshire): Considered one of the pioneers of the UK’s craft beer movement, the Thornbridge brewery was originally based in the grounds of Thornbridge Hall near Bakewell, Derbyshire. Its first beers went on sale in February 2005 and from developing IPA’s and blonde beers, they also added barrel aged editions.
Outstanding Farmer of the Year
Neil Darwent (Frome): Neil has been a dairy farmer since 1986 and set up Free Range Dairy in 2011, a UK farmer-led initiative to promote the value of milk from pasture, and has been building strategic partnerships with researchers and scientists to deliver new thinking and practical measures for dairy farmers.
Best Food Market
Aberystwyth Farmers Market (Aberystwyth): Launched in May 2000, the market has up to 30 stalls every first and third Saturday in the month. In 2010 the market was voted among the Top 10 Farmers’ Market in the UK by the Times – the only Welsh market to be included.
Best Street Food/Takeaway
The Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company (Pembrokeshire): Aiming to celebrate the produce of the area, combining foraged seashore ingredients with fresh local seafood, the Pembrokeshire Beach Food Company has five mobile Beach Shacks offering signature local dishes.
Best Initiative in British Food
Feeding the 5,000 Food Waste Charity: All three campaigns – Feeding the 5,000, Gleaning Network and The Pig Idea – are about big ideas and big action to change the supply chain in favour of low-waste food production and consumption.
Food Personality of the Year
Cyrus Todiwala: the celebrity chef who is a passionate advocate of British produce, and committed to education and training. His recent work includes The Incredible Spice Men for BBC Two in 2013, and a book, Mr Todiwala’s Bombay: Recipes And Memories From India, published in October 2013.
Derek Cooper Lifetime Achievement Award
Tom Jaine, the organiser of the Oxford Food Symposium and editor of The Good Food Guide, whose work has contributed to increasing our knowledge of good practice in food, gastronomy and farming. Among his many achievements, Tom Jaine is also the author of four books; he has written for national newspapers; and presented The Food Programme on Radio 4. He was Editor of the annual Good Food Guide from 1989 to 1994. He owns Prospect Books, a micro-publisher focusing on the history, culture and ethnology of food.
BBC Radio Bristol Search for a Food Hero Award
Elizabeth Carruthers, Head of Redcliffe Children’s Centre. Elizabeth runs a food project for the Under 4s.