Finalists in the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards

Teashop finalists, Bessie's Tea Parlour in Broadstairs

Teashop finalists, Bessie's Tea Parlour in Broadstairs - Credit: Archant

Meet 18 hopefuls in six different categories, from Teashop of the Year to Best Pub


Customer Service of the Year

Sponsored by: Fenwick Canterbury

The Three Tuns, Sittingbourne

We are so pleased that our customers have nominated us in this category. Customer service is so important to us and we strive to do all we can to make a customer’s visit one they will enjoy and want to revisit us again and again. We are really proud of what we and our team have achieved over the last few years.

We aim to provide a friendly, welcoming yet professional environment for all, where you can find good food, fine ales and a great service. We hold many fun events like the Kentish Beer Festival and local produce fair and markets, and we hope that it is this that readers may have experienced and enjoyed. We thank them for their nomination.

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Chris and Carol Haines

The Village Shop and Post Office, Challock

First of all we are all surprised to be nominated for Customer Service of the Year award because all we do is try to be as helpful as we can. I really can’t explain why the Kent Life readers have voted for us. However, all I can say is that if we can help anyone in any way we can, we will. I personally believe it is all part of being in a village and providing the best service. Thank you.

Andrew Puxted

Longfield Butchers, near Dartford

My initial reaction to hearing of the nomination was shock, surprise and immense gratitude to my customers. I am very proud and honoured to be nominated and be a part of these awards. I am very proud of my team, and they are proud too and very excited.

I believe that our honest and friendly relationship with our customers has been fundamental in their voting for us. We treat our customers with the upmost respect as without them we couldn’t survive as a small local business. We are accommodating to their needs be it quantity, delivery, unusual items or dietary requirements. We always endeavour to go out of our way to help supply all our customers, especially our elderly ones.

Drinks Producer of the Year

Sponsored by Motorline Maserati

Chapel Down, Tenterden

Nominations from the public are always humbling. It’s a tremendous accolade to be given, especially when there is so much outstanding produce coming from the region. We have always been tremendously proud of our Kent heritage and it’s great to get so much local support. We try to do our bit - we stock and support many local producers not only because they are from Kent, but because they are better products and support our community.

We think that passionate and informed readers of Kent Life have nominated us because they not only genuinely enjoy our wines, but are proud of what we have achieved. Throughout all areas of the business, we strive to deliver the best experience possible – whether that be through enjoying our wines, visiting our vineyards, making a purchase in our shop or choosing to become a shareholder. It is our passion to continually try to offer something different, something that will surprise and delight. It’s proving to be a winning formula and I hope our nomination will our nomination encourages many more to experience what we do.

Frazer Thompson

Anno Distillers, Marden

We are ecstatic to be nominated for Drink Producer of the Year. There are so many amazing products being made in Kent. It has been a fantastic year for the Garden of England to be recognised across the whole of the UK. As well as our local community, and being such a small and relatively new company it is amazing to be a part of it. Kent is so important to us, providing the distinguishing flavours for our products, so we are very grateful to be voted for by local people for this award nomination.

We are extremely passionate about handcrafting the best spirits for our customers and we have now received international accreditation in blind tastings for our spirits (including Gold at the San Francisco World Spirits Competition). We wouldn’t have been able to do that without the continued support of so many fantastic locals, including those who have nominated us for Drink Producer of the Year and who share our passion and enthusiasm for the Anno brand.

Kim Reason

Wise Owl Cider, High Halden

We were extremely surprised to be nominated because we are a small producer and we have only just completed our first year of trading. I think the readers have nominated us because we have produced a well-balanced cider that is both light and flavoursome in taste, using Kentish apples that we mill and press ourselves.

We believe we have come across to our customers as hard working and personable - attending Farmers’ Markets, tastings and other events. We are very proud of our product, and we like to engage with our stockists and customers about our method of making craft cider using only 100 per cent apple juice.

Paula Wise

Farmers’ Market of the Year

Tonbridge Farmers’ Market

This is the second time we have been nominated for this award and it is a great honour. There are so many great Farmers’ Markets in Kent and to be thought of as in the top three is a real privilege, and it makes it all the more special we have been nominated by the public. The people of Tonbridge are a very loyal bunch and support the market and the town. If it wasn’t for their support the market wouldn’t have more than 85 producers each month and all the other activities that revolve around the market.

Steve Wood

Penshurst Farmers’ Market

It is absolutely thrilling. We have been running for 10 years and this is the first time we have been placed in the final three for an award. I think your readers have nominated us mostly because of our 35 food, drink and plant stallholders, who are all hugely talented, knowledgeable and very friendly. Then we also offer activities for children, cooking demonstrations and enjoy a great setting at Penshurst Place.

Benjamin Dent

Knockholt Farmers’ Market

We’re consistently overwhelmed at the support our regular visitors give Knockholt Market. Come rain or shine, they’re there and the fact that someone has gone to the trouble of nominating us for such a prestigious award is both unexpected and extremely pleasing. But then the visitors are always such an important part of the fun we have in running the market and we’re especially delighted to see the children taking their first steps in sampling some of the great food that the Garden of England has to offer.

We’ve worked hard in the 18 months we’ve been running the market to gather together such a fine team of producers. The popularity of the market now is as much testament to their hard work and eye for quality, as it is to ours. A shopping destination needs to be a fun place to go, offering attractive, good quality food and we are committed to providing an experience which is all this and more. Therefore, we allow only the best of locally produced food at our market and consistently aim to be the best in our field.

Anne Marriner and Sally Ross

Food Producer of the Year

Sponsored by Perrys Chartered Accountants

Simply Ice Cream, Bonnington

We are thrilled to have been nominated for Food Producer of the Year. We are so lucky in Kent to have the most amazing number of small producers thriving around the county with Produced in Kent backing us all. To be one of three producers in the final is an absolute honour.

We have built the business slowly over the last eight years or so and have maintained our initial ethos of ensuring that quality is never compromised. We set up as a hand-made artisan company and although we have grown hugely over the last few years, we still make it in the same way by hand in small batches. This gives our ice cream a unique taste and texture, unlike mass-produced ice creams.

We source as much as we can locally and collaborate with other artisan producers to create amazing flavours such as the Kentish Coffee and Cobnut Fudge for which we use a local fudge maker.

Solleys Ice Cream, Ripple, near Deal

We are surprised and thrilled to be shortlisted for such a prestigious award especially given the quality of the other nominees. We have had an excellent 2015 and we have delivered new branding, packaging and flavours, gained a Great Taste Award and celebrating 30 years of making real dairy ice cream.You could say our nomination is the cherry on top for this year.

All we can hope is that the approach we take to a quality product delivered with quality service seven days a week has led to some happy customers. Everything we make is sourced from Kent and failing that the UK, with bananas, coconuts and mangos being the exception. We offer our customers a wide range including 17 core flavours, three guest flavours twice a year and three sorbets. For our customers to recognise a local high-quality product still made on our family farm makes us all very proud. Thank you.

Keith Morrison

Curiously Kentish, Birchington

We are totally amazed and haven’t stopped smiling since hearing the great news. Although we have been making all of the products for a few years, we never had a real market place shop front to sell to customers until January this year. Before we used to sell through our restaurant, but we have since sold it to concentrate solely on Curiously Kentish Delicatessen.

So after only eight months of being open and supplying our wares to the public, this is the best news we have received and we feel assured and so blessed that our wonderful clients love what we do. Our dreams and visions are now very real and it’s amazing.

We love our customers, food and our beliefs in striving to make the best possible dishes from the wonderful produce that Kent has to offer.


Pub of the Year

Sponsored by Eastwell Manor

The Oyster Pearl, Seasalter

Winning Newcomer of the Year in 2013 was a very big achievement. I believe I have helped us to expand our employment and to be well-known in our local community.

Word can not express how happy my team and I feel for now being nominated for Pub of the Year.

I think your readers have nominated us because of our eclectic menu, locally sourced ingredients all freshly prepared and cooked with British and Asian fusion cuisines combined with truly the best of both worlds. It is served with the smile from our friendly and helpful staff in a pleasant environment. Thank you.

Susan Lovett

The Milk House, Sissinghurst

Since opening in September 2013 we’ve worked hard to celebrate the fantastic local produce on our doorstep, both behind our bar and through our menus. We’ve tried to create an atmosphere that’s friendly, warm and welcoming for everyone in the area. We believe it’s these values that have helped make the pub a success, along with all the support, encouragement and friendship we’ve received from the local community. We’re really thrilled to have been nominated for this award as it symbolises how much we’ve grown and learned over the last two years. We’re very proud of Team Milk House and of what we’ve achieved together.

Sarah and Dane Allchorne

The Compasses Inn, Crundale

We are very happy to be nominated for this award especially as it is our customers who have taken the trouble to nominate us, which really shows that people appreciate what we are doing out here in the sticks.

I think people have voted for us because the pub itself is a stunning building from the 1400s with lots of character and we are surrounded by stunning landscapes and fantastic walks. But on top of this we serve what we believe is a great product. At the end of the day we are a true country pub with gamekeepers and farmers at one end of the bar with muddy wellies and people enjoying lovely food on the other side.

Robert Taylor

Tea shop of the Year

Sponsored by: Cookery Studio Kent

Tiny Tim’s Tearoom, Canterbury

It is always humbling to be nominated for an award, so obviously we are delighted. Our aim is to be the best we possibly can and to be recognised for this makes us feel the hard work is worth it. We genuinely just want to provide somewhere for people to come, relax, and enjoy a traditional tea.

We’ve been around for more than eight years and during that time have built up a great regular customer base, many of whom we consider friends. Our front of house staff are chatty and friendly and we believe we have kept customers coming back by catering to what they want. While we’ve added and changed some of our locally sourced, home-made goods over the years, our core product has remained mostly the same. People know what to expect at Tim’s, we constantly reassess the quality of our product and insist on only serving food that hits our high standards.

Phil Owens

Bessie’s Tea Parlour, Broadstairs

I was so surprised, but delighted, to receive a call to say we had been nominated. Based on the feedback from customers it may be that we try our best to provide a relaxed, happy and nostalgic experience that people remember. It is a place where people meet up with their friends and family or just pop in alone for a cuppa. People also seem to enjoy the fact that everything is baked on the premises and the produce is either foraged from our smallholding or supplied by local producers including customers who have allotments and veggie patches.

We have a very active community and there is always something going on in the Parlour, from the Great Broadstairs Bake Off, Stitch n Bitch, children’s bake sessions to the now extremely popular Seaside Pudding Club. Maybe the voters who nominated us can see just how much we all love it here and enjoy the company.

Karen Evans

Creek Creative, Faversham

It’s very exciting being nominated for an award for something I’m so passionate about. It is particularly special for me as 14 years ago I was diagnosed as a coeliac and as I could no longer work solely with gluten, I thought my career as a chef had come to an end. With the help of my young team I’ve been able to develop the Gallery Café to fit around my coeliac disease.

I think our customers appreciate the warm, friendly welcome, and our open kitchen lets us build up a great rapport. We use the finest quality locally sourced seasonal ingredients for our menu, which changes daily, and cater for many dietary requirements. Our café is in a unique gallery setting, with a sunny courtyard and excellent facilities for disabled customers.

Lorraine King Next month

In November Kent Life we look at the following categories and their proud finalists:

Chef of the Year

Restaurant of the Year

Farm Shop of the Year

The Food & Drink Hero of the Year will be decided by editors Sarah Sturt of Kent Life and Chris Britcher, Kent on Sunday from reader nominations and announced at the 2015 Awards ceremony, taking place at the Ashford International Hotel on 15 October. Results will be online immediately after the ceremony and full pictorial coverage will appear in the December edition of Kent Life.

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