The Food & Drink Awards at St Michael’s Manor was a chance for the local chefs, cooks, bartenders, farmers, bakers, baristas and foodies to put away their aprons and overalls, dress up, and have a good night out. It is always a fantastic evening, and an opportunity to meet up with colleagues and competitors, and check out what everyone else is up to. We enjoyed delicious fizz from Flagship Wines and cocktails from Mokoko, while the packed bar buzzed as everyone made the most of a night off.
St Michael’s Manor were excellent hosts again, and the chefs at my table enjoyed the dinner with the locally sourced lamb being the big hit. And then the tension mounted as Radio Verulam welcomed everyone, and started to announce the awards. I sat with Jass from Mokoko and Andrei from Lussmann’s and they went uncharacteristically quiet as the results were read out! These are the awards that the local businesses want to win, and I was delighted to see some long-standing favourites such as Hedges and Redbournbury Mill do well, as well as some newcomers. The Foragers at The Verulam Arms won Highly Commended in the Best Restaurant category, and Bakehouse won Best Cafe, showing that new ventures can thrive and do well. St Albans favourites such as The Pudding Stop and Inn on the Park did well again because, quite simply, they are both consistent and extremely good at what they do. The biggest cheer came from Ye Olde Fighting Cocks who were delighted to win Best Pub after taking over this famous pub earlier this year. And the most glamorous recipients, The Bakehouse team, got a huge cheer too, with a couple of people mentioning to me that they’d like to work there…
St Albans places dominated the prizes, so I hope Harpenden and the villages have a resurgence next year. I’m looking forward to the new fish and chip shop, Godfrey’s in Harpenden, and The Blueberry Cafe is one to watch too.
We are very lucky to have such as wealth of good local producers and farms, and good independents in our area, and it is great to see so many of them doing well. They are what make our area an interesting place to live. Well done to all the finalists and winners!
Local producer: Redbournbury Mill
Highly Commended: Hedges Farm
Local gem: The Pudding Stop
Highly Commended: Heaven is a Cupcake
Best Restaurant: Lussmann’s
Highly Commended: The Forager’s at The Verulam Arms
Best Bar: Mokoko
Highly Commended: The Peahen
Best Pub: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks
Highly Commended: The Boot
Family Friendly: Inn on the Park
Highly Commended: Bakehouse
Best cafe: Bakehouse
Highly Commended: Soko coffee
The Kate D’Arcy Award for Outstanding Customer Service: Lucy Clark, Heaven is a Cupcake