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The 2024 Suffolk Food and Drink Awards: nominations open

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The Suffolk magazine Food and Drink Awards are back! Suffolk has an incredible reputation for its food and drink businesses. From single-ingredient specialists to restaurants offering inspired menus, the county is a food and drink haven!

We are proud to be celebrating the very best in food and drink in Suffolk with the relaunch of our first Suffolk Food and Drink Awards since the pandemic.

After all the challenges of the last few years we are keen to champion and highlight the achievements of the people across the county who are serving us outstanding food and drink in wonderful settings.

Now it is over to you – to nominate your favourites. It is your chance to shine a light on Suffolk’s food heroes and heroines, name the people and businesses which have thrived and survived, made a difference and added to the fabulous flavour of our county.

Categories include everything from Chef of the Year to Food and Drink Retailer, and from Pub or Bar of the Year to Best Newcomer. The 2024 Suffolk Food and Drink Awards are brought to you by Suffolk magazine, in association with the East Anglian Daily Times.

A huge thank you goes to our wonderful headline sponsor Thomas Ridley, proud to be an independent foodservice company with a long history, Thomas Ridley has been part of the Suffolk food and drink industry for more than 200 years.

We have 10 categories open for entries, and will be accepting entries from businesses, as well as nominations from customers. Entries will remain open until midnight on Sunday, January 7 2024.

Judging will then commence, with two judges per category going out to complete organised meetings, or unannounced visits. They will judge against set criteria to determine the finalists for each category. The winners will be announced at the 2024 Suffolk Food Awards event at Snape Maltings, on Monday April 29.

Nominate your foodie favourites at suffolkfada.co.uk

Great British Life: Winners of the eatsuffolk Food and Drink Awards 2019 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWNWinners of the eatsuffolk Food and Drink Awards 2019 Picture: SARAH LUCY BROWN

Suffolk Food and Drink Awards – Criteria

Outstanding Achievement Award 

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 a panel of judges using their industry knowledge.  

Pub/Bar of the Year.

Nominations will be accepted for pubs and bars across Suffolk which have created a high-quality offering for their customers – bars, traditional drinking pubs and those that have built a reputation for their restaurant and/or bar menu will be considered for this award. 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 or bars an enjoyable well rounded experience. 

Best Coffee Shop/ Café .

The judges will look for the coffee shop/café in Suffolk 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.  

Restaurant of the Year 

Nominees will be accepted for restaurants across Suffolk which have the ability to create an incomparable dining experience from ambience to the service, and most importantly the menu will be varied, using local fresh produce and be served with an excellent level of customer service. 

Best Suffolk Producer

This award recognises the fantastic food and drink products being created within the county. 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 Suffolk, although it is not essential that every ingredient is sourced from within the county’s borders. 

Chef of the Year.

This prestigious award is open to chefs of any level who are currently working within the Suffolk 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. Chefs will be contacted to to submit a formal entry. 

Front of House Experience 

Judges in this category will be looking for the level of front of house provision that makes a truly enjoyable visit to the restaurant, café or pub. A warm welcome, understanding and anticipating customers’ needs, good knowledge of menus, dishes and provenance of ingredients 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. 

Food and Drink Retailer of the Year

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 farmshops, markets and retailers.  

Food/Drink Experience

Judges are looking for the very best food/ drink experience in Suffolk, for example this could include farmers markets, themed food events, themed menu experiences. The judges will be impressed with experiences that have successfully been running for years, or brand new food/ drink experiences which have seen to be a great success to date. Judges would also like to hear of plans for the future offering. 

Best Newcomer

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.

Street Food Vendor

The judges will be looking for a street food vendor offering their tasty sweet treats, savoury snacks or take away meals. Vendors eligible for this awards should be based in Suffolk, and attend markets, fairs, events and shows. The judges will be impressed with a high quality offering, enticing menu, local produce used, and affordable pricing.



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