Entries open for 2021 Cotswold Food & Drink Awards

Best Local Food and Drink Initiative award winner, Broadway Food Festival, on stage collecting their

Best Local Food and Drink Initiative award winner, Broadway Food Festival 2019, on stage collecting their CLFDA trophy. - Credit: Andrew Higgins©Thousand Word Media

Vote for your favourite businesses across 10 categories

To nominate your favourite food and drink businesses, visit the awards website.

What a delight it is to be announcing our 2021 Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards. 

As many of you will know, we made the difficult decision last year to postpone the awards because of the effect Covid-19 has had on the industry. Too many of our much-loved restaurants, pubs, hotels, cafés and producers found it a difficult time, with constantly-changing government guidelines surrounding hospitality, staff being furloughed, and loyal patrons feeling nervous about leaving their homes. It simply didn’t feel like the right time to be celebrating our usually thriving food and drink businesses.  

While some, sadly, had to call it a day, others found new ways in which to operate in challenging times; setting up takeaway services, delivering the complete restaurant service direct to homes, and installing all manner of shelters in gardens. We’ve seen quirky open-sided carriages, fairy light-festooned marquees, geodesic domes, tipis... and we’ve also seen traditional pubs transformed into village stores, selling everything from fruit and veg to daily papers. Ingenious. 

The way in which independent Cotswold businesses have joined forces to share experiences and ideas in the last 14 months or so has been truly heart-warming and fills us with both hope and excitement for the days to come. And so, we’re launching our Food & Drink Awards for the 19th year with great fanfare and the popping of many corks, and hope you’ll join us in recognising some of our heroes.  

Please do send in your nominations now, and we look forward to seeing you in October at our celebration of all that’s good about Cotswold food and drink.

Candia McKormack, Editor, Cotswold Life Magazine

How to enter

Entries for the Cotswold Food & Drink Awards can be submitted by the public or businesses and their customers. Now's the time to celebrate and thank those producers, farmers, shops, cafes, pubs and restaurants who have been there for us during lockdown. Visit foodawards.cotswoldlife.co.uk to cast your votes. Entries close on July 18, after which our expert judges will be out and about selecting their finalists and winners. The awards ceremony will take place on October 11, 2021.

Award categories 2021

The Face of Food and Drink 2021, Sponsored by Warner's

This non- entry category recognises and individual who has made an outstanding contribution to the county’s food and drink sector. The winner could come from any part of the industry – a grower, producer, cook, restauranteur, retailer, educator or local food and drink champion. The judges will select someone who is an expert in their field, has a proven track record, inspires colleagues, educates and sets standards at which others aim to attain. This award winner is selected by judges using their industry knowledge. 

Our headline sponsor: After a hiatus due to Covid last year, Warner’s is once again the headline sponsor at the Cotswold Life Food & Drink Awards. 

Warner’s stores are independently owned by Guy Warner, who has been working with local food and drink producers for over 15 years. During that time, Guy and his team have discovered some true Cotswold gems and are proud to stock produce from many of the CLFDA nominees, finalists and winners in Warner’s stores in Worcestershire, Gloucestershire and Warwickshire. 

Discovering local talent in food and drink has always been fundamental to the Warner’s brand – many local producers began their journey at Warner’s stores and have since grown to become award-winning household names in their own right.  

Alongside an ever-increasing range of local produce, Warner’s also stocks all the usual supermarket essentials, offering customers flexibility and convenience in their shopping experience.  

For more information about Warner’s stores and becoming a member of Warner’s Taste Club, visit www.warnerstasteclub.co.uk

Cafe, Coffee or Tea Shop of the Year, Sponsored by Frank Smith & Co Solicitors

The judges will look for a café, coffee or teashop which is able to create an outstanding customer experience – a warm welcome, high quality tea and/or coffee plus a range of other drinks, tasty food made from fresh, local produce, all served with an excellent level of customer service. Judges will be impressed by a relaxed, comfortable ambience, originality, an imaginative menu and aspects which make the café or tea shop special. 

Our sponsor:  Frank Smith & Co Solicitors is a law firm based in the centre of Cheltenham providing legal advice to individuals and businesses. The firm focuses on two areas: property and private client services. The property department deals with agricultural property, residential property and commercial property, while the private client department deals with wills, trusts and probate. The business's unique selling point is that we offer bespoke not mass produced legal services in a private, personal, friendly and efficient manner. We have many years’ experience working in the legal sector and pride ourselves on understanding the needs of our clients and work hard to meet our clients’ expectations.  

Food and Drink Innovation, Sponsored by Hazlewoods Business Advisors and Chartered Accountants

This award is looking for a pioneer product, service, community, business or person within the food and drink industry. The winner of this award will use data, marketing and creative solutions effectively to deliver a food or drink product or service.

Our sponsor: Hazlewoods is a UK Top 25 independent business advisor and chartered accountancy firm, with an established sector expertise that is hard to find elsewhere. The company is proud to be part of the local business community. Its experts have been providing specialist accountancy, tax, audit and business advice to individuals and businesses of all shapes and sizes from start-ups through to corporates for more than 100 years. Hazlewoods' specialist food and drink team does everything from guiding small businesses through their first steps, to helping international businesses manage their overseas operations. 

Chef of the Year, Sponsored by John Morgan Partnership Ltd

This prestigious award is open to chefs who are currently working within the Cotswold food and drink industry. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business, including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors. This will recognise the close link of fine food with using the best of local produce.

Readers, businesses and chefs are able to nominate in this category. We will then contact all chefs to submit a formal entry with the hope of reaching a live cook-off. 

Our sponsor: John Morgan Partnership Ltd (JMP) is a Cheltenham-based general insurance broker advising on an extensive range of commercial insurance for businesses, and lifestyle contracts for high-net worth individuals. JMP is proud of its ability to understand client needs, arranging fully bespoke and comprehensive insurance cover at a competitive price. The company deals with insurers specialising in the hospitality industry who provide tailored cover, meeting every possible need for clients.

Casual Restaurant of the Year, Sponsored by Total QSR

Nominees will be accepted for casual restaurants which have the ability to create a relaxed and inclusive dining experience. The menu will be varied, using local fresh produce and be served with an excellent level of customer service.

Our sponsor: Total QSR is one of the leading commercial catering equipment service and repairs companies in the UK. It is a service partner for some of the biggest food and drink brands. With an average first-time fix rate of 95%, Total QSR's catering experts can assist with commercial equipment sales, installation, servicing, repair, consultancy, project management - and ensure health and safety compliance. As you're service partners the company can offer complete packages,  including refrigeration service and repair, installation, and sales. There's also an electrical team covering fixed wire testing and PATS and much more. 

Pub of the Year, Sponsored by NFU

Nominees are accepted for fantastic pubs which have created a distinct and high-quality offering for their customers – both traditional drinking pubs and those that have built a reputation for their restaurant and/or bar menu. Common to all finalists will be great standards of customer service and understanding of their market, technical expertise in sourcing and providing a good range and standard of drinks – both alcoholic and non-alcoholic – plus a sense of character that makes a visit to these pubs enjoyable and memorable.

Our sponsor: NFU Mutual was founded over 100 years ago to look after the insurance needs of the farming community.

It now offers insurance to individuals and businesses outside of the farming industry and has grown to become a major national insurer, serving customers from over 300 local branches.

Its range of products includes car, home, farm and business insurance, and in addition, NFU Mutual offers advice on pensions, protection and investments, as well as services such as inheritance tax planning.

NFU Mutual Financial Advisers advises on NFU Mutual products and selected products from specialist providers. When you contact NFU the team will explain the advice services it offers and its charges. For your insurance, pension and investment requirements please contact us the offices in Moreton-in-Marsh or Cheltenham on 01608 651781.

Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year, Sponsored by Peter Hickman

Nominees will be accepted for exceptional restaurants which have the ability to create an unforgettable dining experience, cooked to a degree of excellence using fresh, local produce combined with an unsurpassed level of customer service, demonstrating and understanding the diners’ expectations. Judges will be looking for a fine-dining restaurant that has impeccable levels of customer satisfaction and menus which inspire and take diners on a taste sensational journey. 

Our sponsor: The Peter Hickman Group comprises five hairdressing salons throughout Gloucestershire.
The first was founded in Gloucester in 1957 and Peter himself continues to own and manage the group. Peter was awarded the MBE for his services to the hairdressing industry.

Since the earliest days, the company has included an in-house school of hairdressing – evidence of Peter’s commitment to training and development from the beginning. The training does not stop when the employee completes their apprenticeship. Staff are highly motivated, and are ready to move forwards. The importance of highly trained qualified and motivated staff has always been seen as the keystone of the business.

The team achieved recognition for the Investors in People national standard in June 1995 and continus to hold this award. A high proportion of staff training takes place with L’Oreal Uk, which (together with Redken and Tigi) is one of the major manufacturers of hairdressing products the group uses.

Best Product or Producer, Sponsored by Royal Agricultural University

This award recognises the fantastic food and drink products being created in the Cotswolds. Judges will be looking for a first-class product that demonstrates the manufacturer’s flair for creating, developing, and delivering a distinctive, successful and respected item, either as a stand-alone or as part of its brand. Manufacture of this will have been in Norfolk, although it is not essential that every ingredient is sourced from within the county’s borders.

Our sponsor: The Royal Agricultural University (RAU), based in Cirencester, has been at the forefront of agricultural education and a key contributor to the land-based sector for more than 175 years. Today, the University has around 1,100 students studying agriculture, food, environment, farm management, business, equine science, real estate and rural land management. The RAU prides itself on its links with industry and in 2019, became only the sixth university, and the first specialist university, to be made a Centre of Excellence by the Institute of Enterprise and Entrepreneurs, for demonstrating leading-edge enterprise practice and prioritising the development of students’ entrepreneurial skills. 

Outstanding Front of House, Sponsored by Martin Green Traditional Decorating Ltd

Judges in this category will be looking for the level of front of house provision that makes a truly enjoyable visit to the restaurant, hotel, café  or pub. Understanding and anticipating customers’ needs, good knowledge of menus, dishes, provenance of ingredients and drink matching will be expected as well as a personable approach that complements the establishment and really enhances the visit. This category seeks to recognise an often overlooked yet extremely important sector of the hospitality industry, and nominations should be for teams/organisations but can also name specific individuals within that. 

Best Retailer

This award recognises retailers who combine vision, a passion for high quality products and freshness of local produce. Marks will be awarded for clear, well laid-out shops which offer a wide variety of great products, and for staff who demonstrate memorable standards of customer care, product knowledge and service. Judges will be looking for innovation in products and presentation, as well as any added facilities the retailer has to offer.

This category is open to farm shops, markets and retailers. 

Our sponsor:  Martin Green Traditional Decorating Ltd provides high quality, professional decorative services including traditional exterior and interior painting, decorating, wallpapering and specialist finishes for both residential and commercial clients. The company can provide an onsite visit if required to discuss your requirement, and has the flexibility to supply a painting and a decorative service out of office hours to ensure that there is no or very little disruption in your workspace. Martin Green is fully insured and CSCS approved.

Best Newcomer, Sponsored by Mid Counties

The award is open to any business or individual who has started a food and/or drink venture in the last three years. The judges will be looking for an outstanding early stage business which has already become a success story or shows promise to become one. The winner will be a company which is able to demonstrate a pioneering approach, strong performance over the past year, as well as the potential to flourish and be sustainable. Among the qualities the judges will be looking for are a dedicated effort to drive the business forward, potential and vision. 

Our sponsor: Best of Our Counties aims to source the tastiest food and drink from the counties it trades in. Whether that is through tenant farms, local suppliers or small food producers, The Midcounties Co-operative wants to keep its supply chain as local as possible. Where the business has butchers, they only sell meat sourced direct from a local farm and ensure the finest, high quality cuts are available for customers to enjoy with minimal impact to the environment. The delicatessens stock cheeses, freshly prepared pies, pastries, sausage rolls, Scotch eggs, handmade ready meals, tarts and handmade pâtés all made by Best of Our Counties local suppliers. 

The Co-operative's philosophy is simple: fresh, local, seasonal. It aims to source from the home or neighbouring county of each store. Inevitably it is sometimes necessary to go a little further to source food when demand is high, but the Co-operative always aims to work with small, quality local producers. This not only reduces food miles but also means customers know exactly where their food comes from, with peace of mind that it is of the highest quality and has been sustainably sourced. In store you will see local ranges highlighted with 'The Best of our Counties' branding. 

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