Nominations open for Kent Life Food & Drink Awards 2017

Guests gather at the 2016 event for an evening of good food and fellowship (photo: Manu Palomeque)

Guests gather at the 2016 event for an evening of good food and fellowship (photo: Manu Palomeque) - Credit: Archant

We are delighted to announce our fifth Food and Drink Awards and encourage readers to nominate their local favourites now!

Tonbridge's bustling Finch House scooped Café of the Year 2016 (photo: Rikard Osterlund)

Tonbridge's bustling Finch House scooped Café of the Year 2016 (photo: Rikard Osterlund) - Credit: Archant

Nominations are being encouraged for the 2017 Kent Life and Kent on Sunday Food & Drink Awards. The awards dinner will take place on 16 October 2017, from 6.30pm to midnight and our host for the night will be BBC Radio Kent presenter Andy Garland, who was such a popular choice in 2016.

The prestigious awards, which launched in 2013, are designed to champion, highlight and offer a showcase to the great and the good from the region’s food and drink industry, including local producers and suppliers, small farming businesses, chefs, restaurants, pubs and hoteliers.

All will be people who care about the countryside and the future of our local environment. The companies included will all nominated by you, our readers. We want to know if you’ve received a fantastic meal at your local pub or have been impressed by the produce and service at your neighbourhood Farmers’ Market or farm shop.

The nomination form is available in this issue and will be repeated next month. It is also available to complete online at:, where you can read more about the awards and see pictures of last year’s winners.

Anno Distillers in Marden won Drink Producer of the Year 2016

Anno Distillers in Marden won Drink Producer of the Year 2016 - Credit: Archant

Entries close on 7 August 2017, after which our handpicked panel of high-profile judges who all live and work in Kent will meet to select a shortlist. This kickstarts the independent judging process where finalists will be visited or interviewed to determine a worthy winner in each category. All finalists will be invited to the prestigious awards ceremony, where they will enjoy a Champagne reception and three-course meal with wines.

This is our fifth Food & Drink Awards and we are immensely proud to be able to offer you once again the opportunity to reward and recognise the deserving businesses within our local food and drink industry that go above and beyond expectations.

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These awards are what you make of them so if you are the owner of a restaurant, a chef or local producer, then do spread the word among your clients, customers and visitors.

It takes no time at all to make your nomination. You can email, post or nominate online. The judging panel is looking for quality over quantity, focusing on good comments rather than simply the number of nominations received, so everybody is in with a chance, no matter how big or small their business.

? Don’t forget to let us know when you have made your recommendation on our Twitter page @kentlife and @KOSMedia by using #kentfda – similarly, if you are looking for nominations, please use this hashtag.

Nominate your Kent food and drink favourites by using the forms on the next two pages or email us at or nominate online at

The 12 categories

Newcomer of the Year

Sponsored by K Sports

This award is open to businesses that have started a new venture in the food and/or drink industry in the past 18 months. We want to know what impact it has made on the local community, success so far and plans for the future

Farm Shop of the Year

Sponsor to be confirmed

A successful farm shop must not only offer a range of produce in an accessible layout, but also work in partnership with local food producers in order to bring their customers the best seasonal produce, at its freshest best

Pub of the Year

Sponsor to be confirmed

Whether it’s the food, the drink, the good company or the strong role in the community (ideally, all of them) we want to find the best pubs in the county. Tell us why you love your favourite - it could be your local or one you are happy to travel miles to

Independent Café/Tea Room of the Year

Sponsor to be confirmed

Judges of this category will be looking for a café, either on its own or as part of a garden centre, museum or farm venue that really meets the needs of its customers. Does it demonstrate attention to diners both in terms of its food offering, atmosphere, information and variety of menu? Is the tea and coffee served always of tip-top quality?

Farmers’ Market of the Year

Sponsored by Perrys Accountants

The key to a good Farmers’ Market is not only the range of produce and the quality of the stalls but also the principles it supports. For example, does it work with other farmers? Is most of the produce sold there grown locally? Are the stallholders welcoming and knowledgeable and is the layout easy to navigate? Are any extras offered on a regular basis, such as cookery demonstrations or talks? Is it well advertised and is there good accessibility and parking?

Restaurant of the Year

Sponsored by Canterbury Auction Galleries

The restaurant of the year will offer a fabulous dining experience, everything from ambience to the service and most importantly, the food. Are ingredients locally sourced? Is the drinks list local as well as international? Can staff tell you more about the food and drink if you ask? Whether it’s big or small, if it ranks high for fine dining, give it your vote

Chef of the Year

Sponsored by Umbermaster Kitchens

This award aims to recognise those chefs who show an exceptional awareness of produce and have the knowledge and expertise to use their ingredients to create sensational, seasonal menus - local sourcing is a bonus as always

Best Independent Food & Drink Retailer

Sponsored by Illuminate Skin Clinics

This winner will consistently show an expert knowledge and passion for their trade, whether a deli, wine or beer store, greengrocer, butcher or baker. They will support great local produce

Product/Producer of the Year

Sponsor to be confirmed

This award recognises local producers whose passion for Kent produce is at the heart of their business. It’s open to all producers who demonstrate a real passion for our county’s food and drink.

Outstanding Customer Service

Sponsored by Shepherd Neame

Nothing makes a business stand out more than excellent customer service, no matter the size of the company. So if staff at a food and/or drink venue consistently give you a warm welcome, go the extra mile and make you feel at ease, vote for them here

Family Dining Award - NEW

Sponsored by The Foxhunter Park

This is the place that never fails to keep the kids happy, without forgetting the parents. Do you know somewhere offering tasty, reasonably priced, nutritious children’s meals as well as facilities to keep the children entertained in a welcoming environment? Then tell us about it

Food & Drink Hero of the Year

Sponsored by Hadlow Group

This person will have made a lasting contribution to the food and drink community. It could be a celebrity, a critic, a barman, waiter or farmer who goes that extra mile to make a difference in the food and drink industry in Kent

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