2014 Yorkshire Life Food & Drink Awards, Rudding Park, Harrogate
- Credit: Archant
We raise several glasses to the best of the best in Yorkshire’s food, drink and hospitality industry
You have to feel a tiny bit sorry (but not much) for the poor old panel tasked with judging the Yorkshire Life Food & Drink Awards. It’s not all delectable dishes, fine wines and luxury lodgings (although, granted, that does take up a large chunk of their time); they also have to decide who, out of the county’s host of top talents, is the crème de la crème.
‘Our judges have gnawed, nibbled, gobbled and gorged their way through acres of our wonderful Yorkshire food and hospitality,’ said head judge Annie Stirk as she co-hosted our annual awards at Rudding Park with TV news presenter Claire Montgomery. ‘They are true gluttons for punishment.’
But it’s hardly punishment really, is it, when your job means you get to dine at such restaurants as Le Cochon Aveugle in York, The Spiced Pear in Hepworth and Sous le Nez in Leeds; quaff a pint or six in pubs like The Golden Ball in York or The Buck Inn in Maunby; and eat, rest and stay at hotels like Woodhall in Linton or Tickton Grange in Beverley.
It’s not as if they’re US ambassadors or anything, forced to eat nothing but lamb and potatoes during their sojourn on this side of the pond. ‘I invite our esteemed emissary to get himself over to Yorkshire to tuck into one of our tasty taverns or to-dine-for restaurants,’ said Annie, referring to US ambassador Matthew Barzun’s recent disparaging remarks about British food. ‘He could also have a delicious overnight stay at our boutique boltholes or indulge in a proper cream tea at one of our first-class cafes. And, if he stopped off at one of our fabulous farm shops, he’d definitely find himself over his baggage allowance.’
Our awards are a great indication of the sheer breadth and depth of talent in Yorkshire, from new kids on the block like Young Chef of the Year Joshua Overington from Le Cochon Aveugle to seasoned professionals like Alison Dodd at Thirsk’s Herbs Unlimited, who won our Special Award.
‘Joshua has transformed a tiny neighbourhood bistro from a former “tart’s boudoir”, as one reporter described it, into a serious contender in the restaurant scene,’ said Annie. ‘This chef’s clever use of forgotten techniques and local produce combined with classic French cookery has turned his exquisitely simple – and simply gorgeous – menu into the talk of the city.
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‘And Alison has taken two acres of land and a lot of hard graft and created a business that now encompasses two acres of polytunnels and glasshouses, a state-of-the-art packhouse and more than 90 acres of crops.’
Special mention also must go to Kerrie-Lee Barr, who scooped our prestigious Education Award for her pioneering work at FoodWorks in Bradford.
‘Her dedication to improving the lives and work of people with learning difficulties knows no bounds,’ said Annie. ‘Enthusiasm, dedication and passion have all been the ingredients of success for this remarkable person – that, and a double helping of tenacity.
‘As the energetic linchpin of the team, Kerrie-Lee has helped hundreds of trainees expand their horizons, exceed their expectations and live life to the full.’
A true Yorkshire food hero, if ever there was one. And she’s in good company too, standing proud among our Yorkshire Life Food & Drink Awards class of 2014 – the cream of the county’s crop and worthy winners across the board.
Tim’s time to shine
Our Chef of the Year, Tim Bilton of The Spiced Pear in Hepworth, is a local food hero who’s fiercely proud of his roots, champions his county at every opportunity and sheds a consistently positive light on the culinary culture he shares with his neighbours, partners and customers.
He honed his skills during his formative years at Bibis in Leeds, capitalised on his confident creativity throughout his five award-winning years at The Butchers Arms in Hepworth and has continued his seemingly summitless rise since launching The Spiced Pear 18 months ago.
‘I believe Yorkshire is home to the best food producers in the country – our cheese, meat, veggies, fish, fruit and even our beer is second to none,’ he said. ‘And a key element of my job is to make sure that top class produce is presented to the public in the best possible light, through innovative dishes that emphasise their natural deliciousness and give diners a true taste of Yorkshire.
‘Every day is Yorkshire day at The Spiced Pear because I have made it my mission to source quality produce for every plate from the county’s amply-stocked pantry of producers.’
Tim’s indomitable spirit and inbuilt positivity have put to the test in the months since he was diagnosed with a rare eye cancer, but he’s never wavered from his mission to produce perfect plates of food and to promote his beloved county.
Accepting his Chef of the Year award at Rudding Park in front of his peers, the overwhelmed chef said: ‘I’m so proud of everything my team and I have achieved in the past year, and to be recognised by Yorkshire Life for our hard work is an amazing end to our first year at The Spiced Pear.’
Newcomer of the year sponsored by Hills Fine Foods
The Spiced Pear, Hepworth
Hotel of the year sponsored by Hallgarten Druit
Tickton Grange, Beverley
Small but special hotel sponsored by The Flower Shop
The Pheasant Hotel, Harome, Helmsley
Restaurant of the year sponsored by CNG
Whites Restaurant, Beverley
Neighbourhood restaurant sponsored by Field Fare
Souz Le Nez En Ville, Leeds
Yorkshire dining pub of the year sponsored by Holme Farm Venison
The Buck Inn, Maunby, Thirsk
Pub of the year sponsored by BlackSheep Brewery
Golden Ball, York
Food destination of the year sponsored by Orient Express, Northern Belle
Kilnsey Park, Nr Skipton
Chef of the year sponsored by Total Foodservice
Tim Bilton, The Spiced Pear, Hepworth
Local producer of the year sponsored by Rudding Park
Education award sponsored by Sykes House Farm
Kerri-Lee Barr, FoodWorks Café
Special Award sponsored by Seabrook
Alison Dodd, Herbs Unlimited
Young Chef sponsored by Teenage Cancer Trust
Joshua Overington, Le Cochon Aveugle
Farm Shop sponsored by NFU Mutual
Blacker Hall Farm Shop, Wakefield
Afternoon Tea sponsored by English Heritage/Brodsworth Hall
The Middleton Post Office Tea Parlour