Food & Drink Heroes

Newcomer of the Year 2013: The Oyster Pearl Restaurant

Newcomer of the Year 2013: The Oyster Pearl Restaurant - Credit: Archant

Hear what the 12 magnificent winners of the Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink awards had to say when they realised they had won

Newcomer of the Year

Oyster Pearl Pub and Restaurant, Whitstable

Sponsor: Pomegranate Catering

Owner: Suzanne Lovett

“I’m so overwhelmed to win this award, it really means so much to me. Also thank you to my friends and family who supported me through a difficult time, but now we are doing really well. I have put so much hard work into the business, but it is down to all of the customers and all of my staff for the success. I’m just so very happy!”

Butcher of the Year

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Fullers Butchers, Tunbridge Wells

Sponsor: Porsche Centre Tonbridge

Owner: Steve Fuller

“I’m absolutely delighted that we have won this award. It’s a family business that has been running for over 40 years. We have a great team of staff with us, who all work really hard, so it’s great recognition for all. We didn’t expect to even be nominated, so we were really surprised to win. Everybody works so hard and our customer service is right up there and I think it has paid off.”

Teashop of the Year

Mrs Knott’s Tea Rooms, St Margaret’s Bay

Sponsor: Audley Mote House

Staff : Cheryl Millard and Alex Horrobin

“We were hoping to win, but we were both so nervous to go on stage! Our teashop has such a lot to offer, we have quality products, in a unique location and pay attention to detail. People always seem to enjoy their experience, so it’s great to win this award. The award doesn’t really go with our bone china, but I’m sure we will find a place for it in the tea room!”

Independent Retailer of the Year

Macknade Fine Foods, Faversham

Sponsor: The Old Mill

General manager: Finnian Dunlop

“It’s fantastic to win this award, as I have only been there for six months. Stefano Cuomo (owner) brought me in to really take the company forward alongside him and it’s been great.

Macknade Fine Foods was established 35 years ago and has been always looking after its customers and staff. The fact this is a new award, it’s great to get the recognition and seek the first opportunity.

We always search for the best products from around the world, and we want to be an alternative supermarket and specialist farm shop, where people shop every day, not just for particular items.”

Farm Shop of the Year

The Barnyard at Gore Farm, Sittingbourne

Sponsor: Waggon at Hale

Staff: Janet Williams and Zuzana Zrakova

Zuzana said: “We are both really shocked but very happy. We all give 100 per cent in what we do and it’s a great how people have recognised that the farm shop offers such good, locally sourced produce.”

Janet Williams, who has worked at Gore Farm for 43 years, added: “People like picking their own fruit at the farm like our strawberries and apples. Everybody who comes to the shop says how lovely it is and we would like to thank everyone who has voted for us.”

Food and Drink Producer of the Year

Winterdale Cheesemakers, Wrotham

Sponsor: Z&B Vintners

Owners: Carla and Robin Betts

“We are both absolutely elated to have won the first Kent Food or Drink Producer Award, and to be picked by the readers and our customers is amazing. It’s the best award to win, so we can’t wait to put it on show.

We have a lot of passion and commitment for what we do and we are different. We have made great effort to go carbon neutral, which has been a highlight, so overall it has been a great year for us. Thank you!”

Family Dining Venue of the Year

Little Brown Jug, Chiddingstone Causeway

Sponsor: Eastwell Manor

Deputy Manager: Andy Mutter

“We have a very relaxed atmosphere, even though we are always really busy, but we are still able to be different. We have a variety of people who come through our doors and we can cater for everybody.

We have had a fantastic year, but this award will raise our profile. This is a testament for all those people who have visited us and they have recognised our hard work, so without the people we wouldn’t be here.”

Pub of the Year

Five Bells Inn, East Brabourne


Owner: John Rodgers and inn keeper: Lydia Baker (pictured)

“We are very honoured to have won such an award. We are a true public house and the social need for a public house over the centuries has not changed, people come together for great food, great drink and to be looked after properly. It’s a great place for people to come together. Our guests have suggested the nomination, and we will have to have a little party towards Christmas, so we can tell all of our guests and say a proper thank you to them.”

Farmers’ Market of the Year

CAPTION: Cookery demo by Matthew Kearsey-Lawson from Kent Fine Foods at

Tonbridge Farmers Market

Sponsor: My Ferry Link

Steve Wood: manager

“I would like to think it’s all from all the effort we have put in over the years, but it’s down to the customers and the producers. Otherwise we wouldn’t be there and they make us the best. We have been nominated for a variety of things before, but we have never won anything, so it’s great. Just want to thank all of our customers and all of the producers who have stuck with us through thick and thin.”

Restaurant of the Year

Thackeray’s, Tunbridge Wells

Sponsor: Romney Marsh Fish Market

Head chef: Daniel Hatton

“We cook good food, and keep the consistency. We use the best produce locally and around Kent. We keep it seasonal and at the end of the day it’s about cooking good food that the customers like. There is always a lot of competition, as people like fine restaurants and eating out, but we try to make sure we are the best in what we do.’”

Chef of the Year

Graham Garrett, West House Restaurant

Sponsor: Swans Kitchens & Bathrooms

Owner and chef: Graham Garrett

“I’m really pleased, as we have been doing this for over 11 years, just doing what we are doing. Customers have been coming from the beginning, so to be nominated by your readers and actually winning is great. We are trying to build a cookery school and a private dinning room, but as it’s such a small restaurant it’s hard to do. Instead of us moving to bigger premises like everyone seems to do, we are going to try and expand from what we have, so that is the plan.”

Kent Food and Drink Hero

CAPTION: Stephanie Hayman with Pieter van Zyl

Stephanie Hayman, Cinque Ports Community Kitchen, Betteshanger

Sponsor: Vaughans of Maidstone

Founding Director: Stephanie Hayman

“I’m quite surprised but absolutely thrilled. It’s great to be recognised for what we are doing as not everybody understands how important it is for children to get the understanding of fresh produce.

Winning this award will hopefully make us go from strength to strength and we are starting a new social enterprise now, which will help teach parents to cook from low income and disadvantage families, who have no idea how to cook and their children can’t have a proper diet, but hopefully this award will push this forward.”

2013 Food & Drink Winners

Newcomer of the Year

Oyster Pearl Pub and Restaurant

185 Faversham Road, Seasalter, Whitstable CT5 4BJ

01227 272705

Runners up: The Corner House, Minster, East Coast Dining Room, Whitstable

Butcher of the Year

Fuller’s Butchers

5 Nelson Road, Tunbridge Wells TN2 5AW

01892 526563

Runners up: Haywards, Tonbridge, Dadds, Westgate-on-Sea

Teashop of the Year

Mrs Knotts Tea Rooms

The Front, South Foreland Lighthouse, St Margaret’s Bay, Dover CT15 6HP

01304 853892

Runners up: The Lavender Tea House, Folkestone, Fir Tree House Tea Room, Penshurst

Independent Retailer of the Year

Macknade Fine Foods

Selling Road, Faversham ME13 8XF

01795 534497

Runners up:

Farmshop of the Year

Gore Farm Shop

Upchurch, Sittingbourne ME9 7BE

01634 235059

Runners up: Quex Barn Farm Shop, Birchington, Stanhill Farm Shop, Dartford

Food or Drink Producer of the Year

Winterdale Cheesemakers

Platt House Farm, Wrotham TN15 7QB

01732 820021

Runners up: Nop from the Hop, Maidstone, Kent Fine Foods, Gillingham

Family Dining Venue of the Year

The Little Brown Jug

Chiddingstone Causeway, nr Tonbridge TN11 8JJ

01892 870318

Runners up: Bows Kitchen, Margate, Waggon at Hale, Chatham

Farmers’ Market of the Year

Tonbridge Farmers Market

Held on the 2nd Sunday of the month in Tonbridge’s Sovereign Way car park between Sainsburys and Waitrose TN9 1RG, 9.30am -1.30pm

Runners up: The Goods Shed, Canterbury, Cranbrook Farmers’ Market

Restaurant of the Year


85 London Road, Tunbridge Wells TN1 1EA

01892 511921

Runners up: The Ambrette, Margate, Culpeppers @ Chilston Park, Lenham

Chef of the Year

Graham Garrett

The West House Restaurant, 28 High Street, Biddenden, nr Ashford TN27 8AH

01580 291341

Runners up: Tom Batt, Deesons, Canterbury, Charlie Lakin, The Marquis at Alkham

Pub of the Year

Five Bells Inn

The Street, East Brabourne, nr Asford TN25 5LP

01303 813334

Runners up: The Three Tuns, Sittingbourne, The Vineyard, Lamberhurst

Food & Drink Hero of the Year

Stephanie Hayman

Almond House, Broad Lane, Betteshanger CT14 0LX


The 2014 Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards will launch in the Spring and in the meantime, we urge all local producers, chefs, restaurants et al to encourage their customers to vote for them next year either online or via the magazine and newspaper – because it’s their nominations that count!