Call for nominations in Young Chef, Newcomer, Street Food and Farmer categories

Andrew and Joanne Knowles, Trenchmore Farm - Sussex Farmer of the Year winner 2017
Andrew and Joanne Knowles, Trenchmore Farm - Sussex Farmer of the Year winner 2017

Nominations are open now for several categories in this year’s Sussex Food and Drink Awards.

The Sussex Food and Drink Awards 2018 team are urging businesses and members of the public to get their nominations in for the Sussex Young Chef of the Year, Sussex Newcomer of the Year, Sussex Street Food of the Year and Young Sussex Farmer of the Year at www.sussexfoodawards.biz before they close in just over a month’s time on September 7.

The criteria for the Young Sussex Farmer of the Year category, sponsored by Plumpton College in association with Farmers Weekly, has changed slightly this year with organisers seeking nominations for a younger farmer aged 35 or under who is making a real difference on their own or on someone else’s farm from any sector within agriculture, horticulture or viticulture.

David Lamb, head of faculty for agrifood, wine, engineering and environment at Plumpton College, said: “The Young Sussex Farmer of the Year is a really important category in these awards and we are proud to be sponsors this year and aim to give young, local farmers the opportunity to be recognised for the high quality food they produce and the positive impact they have in shaping the rural landscape in Sussex.

“This year, we are looking specifically for a young Sussex farmer who displays the following attributes: vision; leadership; innovation, creativity, entrepreneurship; ability to incorporate new ideas and practices; ability to inspire others; and the desire to succeed and grow business.”

There are a number of good reasons why people should be eating more local, seasonal food including supporting the local economy, reducing the energy needed to grow and transport the food that is eaten and avoiding paying a premium for food that has travelled a great distance or is limited.

The Sussex Newcomer of the Year category, co-sponsored by Kreston Reeves and Sussex Food & Drink Network, will be looking for an innovative business from any part of the food and drink sector, supporting local produce, which has been trading for up to three years by the end of 2017; has the ambition and determination to succeed; and can demonstrate a realistic and sustainable business plan.

The Sussex Food and Drink Awards organisers are very keen to support and encourage new business start ups in farming, food and drink production and across the retail and hospitality that supports local fare. Judges will be looking for the quality of the offer, need in the market place, unique selling points, areas of innovation and whether there is any recognition to upskill and/or undertake training.

For any restaurateur, head chef or individual who knows a super talented chef aged 25 years or under on December 31 this year, working or studying in Sussex, with a strong appreciation of all things local then now is the time to nominate them. This popular category, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige, is always bursting with talent and the judging panel will be eager to see how the top six perform in the MasterChef style cook off which takes place in October at the Amex Stadium in Brighton.

Street Food has come a long way in the past few years and sponsor Horsham Time Well Spent, supported by Food Rocks, will be organising a competition and market day for the top 10 street food vendors in the county on October 22 in Horsham Carfax.

Three years after its introduction to the awards scheme, this category has gone from strength to strength welcoming exciting businesses creating artisan dishes with care, passion and a true dedication to using quality local ingredients.

Finalists have already been revealed for each of the other six categories in the awards and public online voting remains open until September 19. They include Sussex Food Producer of the Year sponsored by Southern Co-op, Sussex Drink Producer of the Year sponsored by Natural PR, Sussex Food Shop of the Year sponsored by Wealden District Council, Sussex Farmers’ Market of the Year sponsored by Harveys Brewery, Sussex Eating Experience of the Year sponsored by Blakes Foods and Sussex Butcher of the Year sponsored by RP Meats Wholesaler Ltd.

As well as earning the huge respect and recognition that these awards now carry, winners and runners up in all ten categories will go on to receive their trophies on February 7 at a BAFTA-style ceremony with seven-course Sussex produce banquet, hosted by awards patron Sally Gunnell OBE and Danny Pike from BBC Sussex.

For more information about all the categories, sponsors and how to vote or nominate, visit www.sussexfoodawards.biz.

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