It was a raucous, lively and late night at St Michael’s Manor on Monday, as the local food and drink businesses gathered together to hear who had won the coveted Food & Drink Festival Awards. On a rare night out for the pubs, bars, cafes, takeaways, shops, producers and restaurants, everyone was there to have a great time. Prosecco from Flagship Wines and cocktails from Mokoko got the evening off to a lively start and it took a while to get everyone out of the bar and into The Lake restaurant for dinner. It is a tough crowd to please, with chefs and producers on every table, but the team at St Michaels did an excellent job of serving dinner to a packed room of over 140 people.
Radio Verulam covered the awards throughout the evening, with interviews with shortlisted nominees and sponsors. As the evening got louder, they had to work hard to be heard above the partying. The presentations by The Mayors of St Albans and Harpenden, the Award sponsors, and compered by Roma Bhowmick got off to a late start but eventually the winners were announced, amid cheering, standing ovations and rowdy heckling. Winners were decided by thousands of public votes, alongside scrutiny by the Festival Steering Group and Award sponsors. It is fantastic to see long-established businesses such as Bourngiorno Italia and Redbournbury Mill alongside newcomers such as Godfrey’s Fish and Chips and Beershop. The Highly Commendeds and Winners lists (below) show the wealth of high quality food and drink businesses we have in the area; we are very lucky!
A special mention must go to Chris Evans, from Hatch, who won the Kate D’Arcy Award for Outstanding Customer Service. Chris has grown his business from scratch and has hundreds of loyal customers; quite an achievement in such a short time and in a small, tucked away location opposite a well-known chain! Also, for the first time, the Steering group awarded a Food and Drink Champion Award to recognise Outstanding Contribution; this went to Johnny Shepherd from The Pudding Stop and The Pud Mobile. Johnny has created a hugely popular and successful business, winning national recognition. His puddings are exceptional and bring people to St Albans from far and wide. We also love the fact that he supports young local talent, teaching them to bake in a commercial environment. Well done to both.
It was great fun to see all the business owners and teams talking, sharing gossip and slapping each other on the back. There was plenty of friendly rivalry and debate about who won and why, but it was clear that people enjoyed the chance to meet up with like-minded businesses who know what a tough industry it can be. A very good night!
Best Independent Shop (sponsored by The Herts Advertiser)
Highly commended: Hedges Farm, Beershop
Winner: Bourngiorno Italia
Best Bar (sponsored by Matthew Clark)
Highly commended: Billy’s Bar, The Snug Bar
Best Cafe (sponsored by St Albans City & District Council)
Highly commended: Bakehouse, Barrissimo
Winner: The Pudding Stop
Best Newcomer (sponsored by SA Law)
Highly commended: Thompson@Darcy’s, Beershop
Winner: The Pudding Stop
Best Local Producer (sponsored by Sparshotts)
Highly commended: Hedges Farm, The 3 Brewers
Winner: Redbournbury Watermill and Bakery
Best Takeaway (sponsored by InACityDeals.com)
Highly commended: Hatch, The Pud Mobile
Winner: Godfrey’s Fish and Chips
Best Pub (sponsored by Zenith Hygiene)
Highly commended: Ye Olde Fighting Cocks, The Cock Inn
Winner: The Verulam Arms
Best Restaurant (sponsored by Handelsbanken)
Highly commended: Bar Azita, The Foragers@ The Verulam Arms
Best Family Friendly (sponsored by Kids a la Carte)
Highly commended: The Pudding Stop, Zizzi’s
Winner: Inn on the Park
Kate D’Arcy Award for Outstanding Customer Service
Chris Evans, Hatch
Food & Drink Awards Champion
Johnny Shepherd, The Pudding Stop and The Pud Mobile