What comes next for the 2016 Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards winners?

Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards 2016

Surrey Life Food and Drink Awards 2016 - Credit: Archant

Once the Champagne corks stopped popping, the winners of the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2016 returned to doing what they do best. Here, we find out the secrets of their success – as well as their own local foodie favourites...

With grateful thanks to our main event sponsor Partridge Muir & Warren: www.pmw.co.uk


Key: We asked our winners...

1 How does it feel to have won at the awards?

2 What do you think the future holds for you?

3 Finally, what’s your favourite local foodie treat?

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Food and Drink Innovation:

Silent Pool Distillers, Albury

Person interviewed: Ian McCulloch, director

1 We are honoured to have won for the second consecutive year. I wish to thank everyone who voted for us, as well as our loyal customers who stock and promote our products. The awards evening is a gathering of best-in-class establishments, and it is always a pleasure to see so many familiar faces and to network with like-minded business-owners who share our same high standards and values. There is a nice camaraderie amongst us. As a young start-up company, it is important to receive critical acclaim from respected members of the business community.

2 Having recently secured a national listing in Waitrose, Oddbins, Wine Rack, Marks & Spencer and Majestic, as well as US export approval, demand for Silent Pool Gin has sky-rocketed. To meet this growing demand, we are in the process of expanding our production facilities and should have this on-stream in the New Year. With regards to new products, there are several exciting additions to our product range expected in time for Christmas. Look out for Silent Pool Gin marinated smoked salmon, an Albury Limited Release Christmas Gin, and a range of “liquid garnishes” we call Silent Pool Mist. We are also gearing up for strong on-line orders and can now post our elegant copa glasses with a bottle of Silent Pool Gin in a beautiful, black gift box or as a pair with a bottle of Silent Pool Gin. Both are expected to be best-sellers in the run-up to Christmas.

3 We are surrounded by a large number of quality establishments. However, I have a special affinity for two local establishments in particular – Kingfisher Farm Shop in Abinger Hammer and the Onslow Arms in West Clandon. Margaret and Barry at Kingfisher have been supporting us since the very beginning. Not only were they one of the original stockists of our first product, Albury Limited Release Gin, they were also the first store to sell over 1,000 bottles of Silent Pool Gin! Quite an achievement for a rural farm shop. We frequent them nearly every day and I can’t recommend them enough. The Onslow Arms also has a special significance for me. Not only is it excellent, but it is where my fellow director and co-founder, James Shelbourne, and I first met to discuss the idea of creating Silent Pool Distillers. It was over a few drinks and dinner that our incredible success story was hatched and it’s a place we still regularly take customers and guests.

Best Family Dining:

Waters Edge, Horsell Common

Person interviewed: Aneke Spacie, owner and head chef

1 We are delighted and touched to have won the award and I really was in shock on the evening. It took a couple of days to sink in. The number of customers congratulating our team really illustrates how popular the awards are.

2 We are still fairly new so are looking to build on our offering and continue to get better at what we do – hopefully delighting customers. We are also seeking to expand at some stage in the future and are lucky to have a number of options. Don’t worry, we will let SL know before anyone else!

3 Woking has seen a really strong food scene grow and what we love best are the non-chain, independent restaurants showcasing global cuisines. Our current favourites are The Real Turk, Bulgogi and Jeitta.

Tea/Coffee Shop of the Year:

The Dabbling Duck, Shere

People interviewed: Cathy Garthwaite and Christina Collins, owners

1 We are absolutely thrilled to have won the award. Our team has worked so hard to make The Dabbling Duck what it is today and it felt like a just reward for everyone’s effort. We had a great evening and enjoyed celebrating our achievement together. We have received so many positive comments from our customers, which is very heart-warming.

2 We have exciting plans for the future. We are building an additional prep kitchen, which will mean we can extend our service with evening supper events and ‘pop-ups’ in locations locally. We aim to be far more than just a coffee shop.

3 We both love dining at new places and are keen to experiment. Amongst our firm favourites are The Swan in Chiddingfold, The Parrot in Forest Green, Kalm Kitchen Café in Guildford and, of course, our very own Kinghams restaurant in Shere.

Best Independent Retailer:

Cullenders, Reigate

Person interviewed: Joelle Cullender, owner

1 We are so happy to have won. The evening is always really good fun. It’s a great chance to meet other finalists and enjoy some fantastic food and wine in beautiful surroundings. Our customers are so happy for us, and we’ve certainly been busier since we won with lots of well-wishers. It’s lovely!

2 We are just about to launch our new ‘Cullenders Club’. A subscription for a regular or one-off delivery of your favourite deli treats to your door. We’re starting this locally at first but hoping to roll this out as a nationwide gift idea. We’re also working on a foodie app that launches next year.

3 We like taking the family to The Bletchingley Arms or The Whyte Hart in Bletchingley for Sunday lunch. For a special evening, we love La Barbe and The Dining Room in Reigate and, a bit further afield, The William Bray in Shere. Priory Farm, Craig Best Butchers, Robert & Edwards and The Vineking are all local shops that we couldn’t be without.

Butcher of the Year:

Surrey Hills Butchers, Oxshott

Person interviewed: Simon Taylor, owner

1 To win the award for the second year running is a fantastic feeling. We now must continue to deliver the service that has got us this far. My team and I know this award brings with it a standard that we will continue to keep.

2 This year, we have big plans; we have just completed the purchase of a second premises behind the shop. We will use this for further expansion for our butchery workshops, which continue to keep us busy on all fronts.

3 It almost seems we are starting to get spoiled in Surrey: The French Table in Surbiton, The Emlyn Restaurant in Dorking, The White Horse in Hascombe, the list goes on... I hear we need to keep an eye on Steve Drake and his next venture too. I have also been lucky enough lately to work with Matt Worswick from Pennyhill Park’s The Latymer. Take your pick of these fantastic chefs and restaurants.

Food & Drink Producer of the Year:

Albury Vineyard, Albury

Person interviewed: Nick Wenman, owner

1 We are absolutely delighted and so proud to have won the Producer of the Year category, as we work really hard to make great wines. It’s fantastic to be recognised in this way. We really enjoyed the awards ceremony and when our name was called as the winner, we were over the moon – it really felt like we were at the Oscars! Thank you to everyone who voted for us and we hope that this award will help spread the word about English wines.

2 Demand for our wines continues to grow, so the future is exciting for us. People in Surrey love to eat and drink local produce, and visitors to the vineyard enjoy learning about how we grow the grapes and make fantastic wine from them. The problem is, we never have enough wine for everyone! So we might look to plant some more vines to enable us to make more wine, particularly our still Silent Pool Rosé, which is always the first to sell out.

3 We are so lucky to live and work in a county full of great pubs, top-quality restaurants, unique farm shops and delis and amazing local produce. Our local farm shop is Kingfisher and it’s our first stop when we need a chicken for our Sunday roast, pork chops for the barbecue and amazing vegetables. We often use the watercress from their farm with Tillingbourne trout to make delicious quiches and tarts when we have events at the vineyard.

Best Local Food Event:

Woking Food and Drink Festival, Woking

Person interviewed: Riëtte Thomas, project manager

1 It was fantastic to win best local food event for the second time. The festival team thoroughly enjoyed the night, including meeting and congratulating other finalists and award-winners. This year’s award will continue to raise Woking’s profile as a great place to visit, live and work, as well as highlighting Woking as one of Surrey’s leading foodie destinations.

2 We have some great plans for next year’s festival, so watch this space! Visitors can expect to find the same level of high-quality local and regional suppliers, demonstrations from popular local and celebrity chefs, and interactive family activities. And, most importantly, the festival will continue to be free to attend.

3 I like to visit the friendly Cellar Magneval, run by Jo and Thierry, to sample wines from the Surrey Hills and some cheeses from their famous trolley. Or, I pop next door to their neighbour, Jeitta, for a Lebanese treat.

Chef of the Year:

Eric Guignard at The French Table, Surbiton

Person interviewed: Eric Guignard, chef

1 SLFDA is fast becoming a favourite event for us – although I do need to make a note to remember the dress code! The night was fantastic – our table was shared with the team behind The Plough Inn, Cobham, and I thought they were all brilliant – it’s definitely on my list of pubs to visit! It was great hearing from all the finalists in the various categories – there really is an abundance of talent and passion in our county. I was overwhelmed to win chef of the year. My restaurant, The French Table, turned 15 this year –and so this award made that achievement even more special.

2 Late 2016/early 2017, I’ll open the third branch of our cafés, The French Tarte – we’ve finally completed all the paperwork, so the real work begins and should be under way soon. This café is at our local Victoria Recreation Ground – my team call it ‘Tarte in the Park’!

3 My absolute favourite Sundays include a trip to Garsons Farm in Esher followed by The Wheatsheaf on Esher Green. Perfect. Love Surrey.


Key: We asked our winners...

1 How does it feel to have won at the awards?

2 What do you think the future holds for you?

3 Finally, what’s your favourite local foodie treat?


Pub of the Year and Best Local Menu:

Stephan Langton Inn,Friday Street

Person interviewed: Anneliese Cameron, owner

1 Having only been running the Stephan Langton Inn since May 2015, we were thrilled to be told we were finalists in both the Best Local Menu and Pub of the Year categories. To win in both categories was amazing (apologies to guests on nearby tables for the loud squeals of delight!) and down to all the hard work of our whole team over the past year. Our vision and commitment to sourcing and supporting local independent producers and serving consistently good-quality food with smiles clearly works. Given that we are probably Surrey’s most secluded pub and restaurant, winning these awards allows more people to know about us and venture out to the Surrey Hills to find us. The awards evening itself was excellent; it was especially lovely to be congratulated by other business-owners, chefs and neighbours whom we have held in high esteem over the years.

2 We’ll keep doing what we’re doing and build on it. With our continued focus on seasonal and local produce made into exciting dishes by our head chef, Simon Adams, and his team, we hope to keep attracting guests here. Working with the award-winning Tillingbourne Brewery (based in Shere), we ensure a good selection of craft ale is always on the pumps, sitting alongside 32 gins (including Silent Pool) and wine from Albury Vineyard. Watch out for our new riverside patio next year...

3 Kingfisher Farm Shop grows the best watercress and over the years the expansion has enabled them to offer a wide range of local produce, including flowers. The Onslow Arms is a favourite haunt for us, but recently we tried The Plough at Cobham – really good steaks and dog-friendly. We are planning to visit The Clink soon too.

Farm Shop of the Year:

Priory Farm, South Nutfield

Person interviewed: Will Edwards, general manager

1 We are lucky enough to have been a finalist four years in a row and this is the second time we have won, which is a real achievement. We were thrilled to have been nominated by our customers again, but to be chosen as the winners of Farm Shop of the Year was fantastic, and a real testament to how much hard work everyone has put in. We had a table for 10 of us on the night and we all thoroughly enjoyed the evening and want to thank everyone for organising another great event. We are very proud of our award and it went straight up on display the same evening!

2 We are always planning the next exciting development here at Priory Farm. Currently, plans are being drawn up for a large extension to the Food Hall, which will allow us to double the size of our butchery and create a whole new building for our deli and chilled departments. This means we will have lots more space to expand our fantastic product range, so as always we are on the hunt for delicious new products!

3 I count myself very lucky to work in such a great farm shop where I am able to buy all of my favourite products from Surrey. If I have to name a few, it would be Silent Pool Gin, Briscoe’s Jellies and Chalk Hills Bakery breads.

Newcomer of the Year:

Dotty’s Teahouse, Carshalton

Person interviewed: Rebecca Mackenzie, owner

1 We were absolutely over the moon at winning the best newcomer award! It was a fantastic evening and we were so thrilled to return home with our award!

2 We have lots planned for the foreseeable future and we are looking forward to launching some new items to our menu, such as freakshakes, home-made soups and savoury scones to name a few! We also have some very exciting events planned for 2017 and will be kicking off the new year by hosting our very first wedding.

3 Our favourite local foodie treat has to be a traditional wood-fired pizza by the lovely folk at The Tinderbox, followed by St Joan’s Farm dairy ice cream! We are also a big fan of Local Food Surrey and love checking out new producers and restaurants.

Services to the Community:

Dorking Food Float, Dorking

Person interviewed: Stephanie Wright, founder chairman

1 Wow, we are so thrilled. When we are out in the freezing cold with the rain pouring down the back of our necks, selling ‘slightly moist’ bread, we can just cast our minds back to the glory and glitz of the biggest prize of all, which is recognition of our efforts. Food Float is run by the community for the community and a Services to the Community award is a powerful motivational force.

2 Recently, we have been training up a new part-time employee as back-up. This will ensure we have contingency staff in place for full sustainability. We need to make sure we can keep up our perfect record of reliability, 50 weeks of the year. We have not missed a day yet in six years! We are still looking for a storage area within central Dorking so that our three storage areas can be consolidated into one. We also need new people to join us for three hours per month selling on the stall. Rewards are mental exercise, lots of fun, a Christmas token and a warm fuzzy feeling that your work is vital to the supply of fresh food. My crazy dream is to float the stall up the River Wey Navigation on a narrowboat to serve those along the way!

3 Hot crispy toast from Chalk Hills Bakery with rich yellow butter from Bookhams of Rudgwick, creamy free-range eggs from Nathan’s at Cowfold, topped off with a spoonful of Newdigate marmalade or Abinger honey from Paul Cleaver. Who could want for more?

Entertainment Venue of the Year:

The Boileroom, Guildford

Person interviewed: Dominique Frazer, director

1 It was an honour to win in our category, especially when we were in the running with other such prestigious venues in town. After 10 years of delivering music, culture and the arts to Guildford, it’s a great feeling to achieve such recognition for what we do.

2 We are currently in the final stages of launching ‘Trash Canteen’, which is our wasted food pop-up project. We have also had Surrey and Hampshire Maker Space (formally hackspace) join our collective. In addition, we are proud to have launched Guildford’s first Happy Café in October as part of Mental Health Awareness Week.

3 We’re very lucky to have an office so close to the Food For Thought health- food shop – I pop in there for delicious healthy treats such as Natasha’s Living Foods energy bars! I also love to treat myself to lunch at the Beano vegetarian restaurant at Guildford Institute for a home-cooked and hearty veggie lunch!

Restaurant of the Year:

Emlyn Restaurant, Dorking

Person interviewed: Nick Sinclair

1 I am extremely proud of our achievement. It’s been a hard 18 months getting to this point and it’s great to get some recognition for all the hard work the team have put in. I was truly honoured to also be shortlisted for the Chef of the Year, so will come back fighting for that next year. It was a fantastic night and really showed how much amazing talent we have in Surrey. We are already seeing a dramatic increase in customers that have read about us in Surrey Life.

2 We are still very keen to develop our vegetable garden here at the hotel and hopefully the Burford Bridge bees will arrive in 2017 so that we will be able to develop our own honey. Everybody is interested in local produce again, so we can’t get much better than our own back garden! As far as the food is concerned, we will stick to our ethos of using great produce and not over-complicating it – letting the flavours do the talking.

3 For me, there are so many amazing foodie treats in Surrey. Dan Britten is seriously putting The White Horse on the map in Hascombe; I have to say that there is no better butcher than Simon at Surrey Hills and his attention to detail is superb – his bavette steaks quite often find their way onto my dinner table at home! I am also excited to see how all of the new restaurants in the county pan out. There are some big names here now, so we all have a lot to look forward to.

Pride of Surrey:

The Clink Charity, Banstead/Sutton

Person interviewed: Annie Fort, restaurant manager

1 It is a great honour for The Clink team to have won this prestigious award in recognition of our work within the Surrey community and further afield. I can’t believe that it has been over seven years since The Clink Restaurant first opened within the walls of HMP High Down and yet here we are now as the winner of the Pride of Surrey trophy – we couldn’t be happier or more proud.

2 The Clink Charity is continuing to expand in order to change more lives across the country. There are three more projects in the pipeline that we will be announcing very soon – Surrey foodies, watch this space.

3 It has to be Da Lucio in Surbiton. It’s a small, family-run Italian restaurant just down the road from my house, so it’s really convenient for me to get to. They offer the best Italian cooking and a great range of dishes on their menu – although I’m always a fan of the seasonal flavours to be found on their specials blackboard.


get in touch!

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