Food & Drink Festival Awards: Nominate your favourites!
The annual St Albans Food & Drink Festival starts in September, and once again local foodie businesses will be competing to win the coveted Food & Drink Awards. Nominations close on 31st August so act fast to nominate your favourite pub, bar, restaurant, cafe, producer, market stall or shop.
I am really pleased that there is a new award this year for Best Local Producer. This is to provide recognition for the fantastic products made locally. Childwickbury Goats, Redbournbury Mill, Hertfelt Meats, Oaklands, Verulam Brewery, Earthworks, Carpenter’s Nursery and Highfield Estate are just some of our excellent local producers, and there are many more: who is your favourite?
Last year’s winners
Winning a festival award means a great deal to our local businesses. I have spoken to many of the winners over the past year, and they all said it had meant a real boost to business. They also told me that it is lovely to receive recognition for hard work, especially in the tough business climate of the last year.
I asked Kevin Yelland the Manager at The Mermaid, who won the Best Pub award last year what winning the award had meant to them: “In this climate anything that’s positive and increases your profile is welcome. In the months following the award we noticed new faces visiting the pub and we hope they enjoyed the same experience as those customers who voted for us”. With so many excellent pubs in the local area it will be interesting to see who wins in 2011. The Six Bells was recently voted in the top 15 gastro pubs in the UK by The Independent, and The White Lion won bronze in the regional CAMRA awards; it will be a close competition.
Lussmann’s, St Albans won the Best Restaurant category, with That Little Place in Harpenden in second place. Andrei Lussmann told me, “There was no better endorsement for the team than winning Restaurant of the Year. Thank you St Albans”. I have been really impressed by local restaurants this year. They have had to work hard to survive, yet many have raised their game, using more local produce, hosting special events, getting out to markets and festivals and working hard to offer great customer care.
Other winners included Heaven is a Cupcake who have had a boom year, selling out regularly at the Town Hall and having a very busy wedding season! The Gingerbread Man continues to flourish with many happy small customers, and branched out to Butterfly World. The Peahen continues to be one of our most popular venues in St Albans, and I have really enjoyed the live music evenings there this year.
About the festival
The St Albans Food & Drink Festival will run 28th September to 9th October 2011 and is organised by St Albans City and District Council. Brochures will be available soon at the Town Hall and in local pubs, restaurants, shops and cafes. I will let you know more about the many events each week leading up to the festival. It looks to be another fantastic year!
How to nominate
Nominations for all the awards categories can be made online at http://www.stalbansfoodanddrink.com until 5pm on 31st August.
A shortlist will then be drawn up and the public will be invited to vote for their favourites from 15th September. The winners will be announced at the Awards Ceremony on 6th October at St Michael’s Manor. The categories are:
Kate D’Arcy Award for Exceptional Customer Service
Kevin Yelland, Mermaid Pub
(from left to right) Tom Lutchman, Andrei Lussmann, Nick McGeown