BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards

We’re back and our first post of 2012 comes from the lovely Charlotte of Go Free Foods,  a company which provides quality cakes free from wheat, gluten and dairy but as tasty as ‘regular’ products. Not content with being a MD of her own company, Charlotte is also a food writer, recipe developer, cookery demonstrator and food blogger for Hello Magazine.com. So over to Charlotte to hear about her day at the BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards.  

It was a great thrill to receive tickets to attend 2011’s BBC Radio 4 Food and Farming Awards. It’s, to my mind, of great importance that the BBC champion independent and artisanal food producers from farm to fork, so to speak, and I took great interest in finding out more about the nominees, spanning from cheese makers, to a micro brewery in Bristol. For a full list of nominees, take a look at the Food and Farming Awards website here.

The awards were recorded in Birmingham at the NEC, at the same time as the BBC Good Food Show, so it was an excellent opportunity to take a good look around the show at the same time. I always love to catch up with friends and see what new food producers are up to at these shows.

My guest for the day was Vanessa Kimbell. Running late from delayed trains into Birmingham, we practically sprinted through the NEC to make it to our seats in time, hurriedly catching up on our news as Sheila Dillon, the wonderful presenter of the Food Programme on Radio 4 took to the stage.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Sheila Dillon

Throughout the presentation, which was also being recorded to be broadcast on Radio 4 (it was repeated on Christmas Day morning) at the same time, we were shown some delightful videos of the shortlisted food producers and what made them so special.

Each award was presented by a well known figure; with those presenting including Rick Stein, Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall, Richard Corrigan and Adam Henson from Countryfile.

All of the awards were tremendously well-deserved and indeed so were those of the runners up. There are many genuinely exciting and innovative food producers, farmers, cooperative owners and artisans all over the British Isles, and it’s great to celebrate the valuable work they do.

I chatted to Richard Corrigan after the awards, who was just bubbling with excitement about the quality, skill and expertise which goes into the production of so many wonderful foods. We talked about just how far this has come on in recent years, and how the quality of so many foods being produced in the UK easily rival any being made abroad nowadays. Particularly so on the cheese front. You can here Richard talk about the Loch Arthur Creamery cheese makers on BBC iplayer, which won the Best Food Producer website.

Adam Henson and I discussed the changes in farming which have taken place in recent years, including the focus on sustainability and the positive impact this can have on farmers.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Adam Henson

I was also lucky enough to chat with Adrian Dolby, runner up in the Farmer of the Year Award, and his delightful wife. The work they do on the Barrington Park Estate is tremendously valuable.

I was so thrilled to have the chance to chat to some of the winners and runners up after the awards ceremony. The lovely ladies at Alder Tree Fruit Ices told me about their lovely products (which were absolutely delicious, my blackcurrant fruit ice disappeared in no time). They are predominantly a fruit farm, who use home grown seasonal fruits in all their ices. They, I think, are destined for great things.BBC Food Farming Awards - Golspie Mill

I tried some sensational bread from Golspie Mill (runner up in the Best Food Producer category) whilst chatting to the lovely Wayne Wright, a passionate chef at Harper Adams Community College. An inspirational chef, with a great philosophy and winner of the Best Public Caterer Award.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Wayne Wright

Next time we go on holiday to the Lake District, we will be stopping off in Bolton, that’s for certain. Their sensational market won the Best Food Market Award. All I can say is that I wish there were more food markets like this. A great community market, where people can actually go to do their weekly shop! I’m all for farmers markets and there are so many excellent ones around, but the issue I have is with the cost of some of the products on sale. It’s just not realistic for very many people to buy a significant proportion of their weekly shop there. Bolton Market is different, selling great value, local produce and is, as a result, really well supported by the local community. Below are Malcom Veigas from Bolton Council, who accepted the award.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Bolton Market

Hugh Fearnley-Whittingstall was the deserving winner of the BBC Food Champion of the Year Award, for the Hugh’s Fish Fight campaign, working tirelessly to change the rules and regulations surrounding fishing quotas and fishing wastage. We were shown a clip from the television campaign which Hugh fronted to highlight the issue, and I was truly horrified by the practices which are in place, which have to be followed defying common sense or logic.

Finally, I chatted to Valentine Warner, a great champion of British produce, who was really excited about the awards and what they mean, and is very keen to support the work of BBC Radio 4 in running the awards.

BBC Food Farming Awards - Valentine Warner

Please do take a look at the nominees and winners and remember…support local when you can!

Thanks to Charlotte for her insight into what was a great day. You can see more of what Charlotte’s up to on her blog Charlotte’s Kitchen Diary

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