Essex Life Food & Drink Awards 2019 winners revealed

PUBLISHED: 16:14 18 October 2019 | UPDATED: 16:27 18 October 2019

Essex Life Food & Drink Awards 2019 winners revealed

Essex Life Food & Drink Awards 2019 winners revealed


Celebrating the 10th anniversary of the Essex Life Food & Drink Awards, Down Hall Hotel hosted the 2019 awards as Essex Life revealed the winners that were named as the best in the food and drink industry within our county

Best Coffee/Tea Shop

Judges: Liz Baker and Aimee Smith from Tiptree Jams

Sponsored by: Beresfords Country & Village

High Commended: The Loft, Tea by the Sea, Tollesbury

High Commended: Wood Cottage Tea Room, Felsted

Winner: Meadow Hill Coffee Shop & Deli, Great Dunmow

What the judges said:

A warm welcome was followed with very friendly service. The team were very attentive without being over the top and we were very impressed that all of the chefs smiled at us when we walked past the kitchen.

The homemade cakes were delicious and we particularly loved the strawberry and Pimms scone, which was incredible.

What the winners said:

We have so many great customers who voted for us and who've been asking for progress reports throughout the process.

We take pride in everything we serve and as a team we believe in the importance of customer service. We're all over the moon to win for a second year.

Meadow HillMeadow Hill


Best Essex Producer

Judges: Sian Williams from NFU Mutual and Helen McTurk, a farm secretary

Sponsored by: Bellefontaines

High Commended: Richard Haward's Oysters, Mersea Island

High Commended: George Thompson (Great Oakley) Ltd

Winner: Barn Farm Drinks, Manningtree

What the judges said:

This producer supplies 200 outlets across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and London (with Morrisons stores soon to be added), providing cloudy or clear drinks with no added sugar and a two-year shelf life in wide range of flavours, all from their own grown fruit.

They even use their own generated electricity and recycled water.

What the winners said:

From the start we've tried to do things a bit differently. We've got an innovative way of pressing fruit juices, using equipment which is normally used to make Champagne and sparkling wine. We also have a very strong local focus.

Whenever we can we use berries which are grown here at Barn Farm and we press, blend and bottle the juices ourselves. It's a great honour to be recognised alongside other fantastic local producers in this category.

Barn FarmBarn Farm


Independent Food & Drink Retailer

Judges: Rosemary Padfield and Heather Tarrant from the Essex Agricultural Society

Sponsored by: Cooper MINI Colchester

High Commended: Café Saison, Colchester

High Commended: Calcott Hall Farm, Brentwood

Winner: A Willsher & Son, Colchester

What the judges said:

This is a family-run business with two generations working in the business providing attention to detail and sourcing their meat locally.

The team is increasing its range of oven ready main meals and desserts, prepared by a trained chef on the premises, and customers can take their own containers to be filled with ready meals.

What the winners said:

At A Willsher & Son we have always tried to procure the best local meat and produce available, and we have aimed to make the best meat products and ready meals that we can. The caterers and schools that we serve all have exactly the same quality as we serve over the counter, and also we have strived to move with the times and accommodate changing tastes.

Knowing a lot of our customers by name and some of them for many years means the shop is always a friendly place to be and sometimes we have a good laugh. To win is an amazing reflection on us and our brilliant staff and our wonderful customers. Thank you.

A Willsher & SonA Willsher & Son


Best Newcomer

Judges: Stephanie Mackentyre from Essex Life and Simon Gotelee from Mr.Wheeler

Sponsored by: Mr.Wheeler Wine Cellar

High Commended: Barn Farm Drinks, Manningtree

High Commended: Sunnyfields Honey & Home, near Colchester

Winner: The Seven Hotel, Southend

What the judges said:

The Seven Hotel is an innovator in the Southend independent hotel scene. The well stocked bar and exemplary restaurant on the ground floor mean that those staying need never leave, but the Cliff Lift funicular to the Western Esplanade and the Pier is adjacent and the town centre a short walk away.

One of the salient features of The Seven is its inclusivity and engagement with Southend. The top floor suites are superb, and have attracted Rod Stewart among others, but there are rooms in all price brackets.

What the winners said:

We are one of the first luxury boutique hotels of our kind to open in Southend. The Seven Hotel is very on trend and offers an alternative contemporary experience as opposed to the well known seaside experience.

To win is a huge boost not only to the business, but to all the staff who work at The Seven Hotel. All the staff can feel proud that they have contributed to this fantastic achievement.

Seven HotelSeven Hotel


Chef of the Year

Judges: Julian Read, from Essex Life, Stas Anastasiades from Milsom Hotels and William Grinsted From Braxted Park

Sponsored by: Allstaff Employment

High Commended: Steve Chatfield - Rok Kitchen, Chelmsford

High Commended: Stephen Bass - The Blue Crown, Brentwood

Winner: Paul Wendholt - Grain, Colchester

What the judges said:

Paul Wendholt was a worthy winner. This talented chef always made time to speak to the judges and worked in a cool and calm way under the pressure of the cook off environment.

The dishes he served on the day would be a delight for anyone to receive in a restaurant and demonstrated his exceptional skills as a chef.

What the winners said:

I believe in what we do at the restaurant - sourcing our food locally, responsibly and seasonally. Once you have done that, the dishes look after themselves if you respect the produce, and hopefully that shows.

Obviously for me it's a great personal achievement, perhaps more so with the pressure of having won before. But also for the team and the restaurant as a whole, it gives us something to share with our customers and hopefully attract some new ones in too.

Paul WendholtPaul Wendholt


Customer Service Award

Judge: Simone Robinson from the IoD and Sue Tasker from

Sponsored by: Hatfields Home Furnishers

High Commended: The White Hart, Moreton

High Commended: The Creek, Great Bentley

Winner: Galvin Green Man, Howe Street

What the judges said:

We enjoyed an immediate welcome from the restaurant host, who seated us and said the name of her colleague who would be over to see us. This lady had such enthusiasm and passion and talked warmly of the founders and the company with great pride, as if it was her own.

She also effortlessly and swiftly fixed a slightly wobbly table! The other members of the team who attended to us during the evening were without exception all gracious, attentive and focused on us as the customer.

What the winners said:

The first thing Chris Galvin ever taught us was, 'a smile costs nothing'. I think we have been named best in the county because of our values at The Green Man. Our customer service is genuine, professional and welcoming and we love to invite our guests into our Galvin family.

Working for The Green Man isn't just a job, it is a passion for us. We have won awards for our food, so it is fantastic to also be recognised for our service.

Galvin Green ManGalvin Green Man


Destination Dining Venue

Judges: Brian Wilkes from Wilks & Co and Cheryl Own from VisitEssex

Sponsored by: Traymoor Quality Meats

High Commended: Alex's Restaurant Bar and Grill, Navestockside

High Commended: The Old Moot House, Castle Hedingham

Winner: The Shepherd and Dog, Harold Wood

What the judges said:

In a very competitive category, the Shepherd & Dog in Harold Wood was picked as the overall winner thanks to its excellent service, good food and value for money.

This is a busy restaurant and bar with tasteful décor and a nice garden to the rear, plus adequate parking, which for a destination dining venue is vital.

What the winners said:

We've been named the best in the county as we offer the highest levels of service, food and atmosphere. Please come along and experience it for yourself.

We love what we do and our customers see this and really appreciate it. This award means everything to me and my team. It just goes to show that all of our hard work has paid off and we really are the best at what we do.

Shepherd & DogShepherd & Dog


Pride of Essex

Judges: Mike Porter, an agricultural commodity broker, and Ayse Singh from East of England Co-Op

Sponsored by: East of England Co-Op

High Commended: Barn Farm Drinks, Manningtree

High Commended: George Thompson (Great Oakley) Ltd

Winner: Deersbrook Farm, Shalford Green

What the judges said:

Anna Blumfield and the team at Deersbrook Farm stood out in this category due to the quality of their animal husbandry and the work the team does with schools and children.

All contenders were very strong, but what stood out was the overall mix of the new farm shop and the promotion of Essex farming to the community, bringing farming to life for children.

What the winners said:

Deersbrook Farm is the only certified Pasture for Life farm in the county of Essex. At the farm we produce the finest 100% grass fed beef and rare breed pork as well as having full knowledge of all other locally sourced food and drinks in the butchery and farm shop.

Winning the Pride of Essex category at these awards is fantastic recognition for all the hard work the whole team put in to producing the very best produce.



Pub of the Year

Judges: Beverly Davies from RCCE and Andrew Hyde from Traymoor Quality Meats

Sponsored by: G + G Gallo

High Commended: The Old Crown, Messing

High Commended: The Marlborough, Dedham

Winner: The White Hart, Moreton

What the judges said:

Among a very strong group of nominees, The White Hart in Moreton stood out. It not only provides excellent locally sourced food and a great range of drink, but is also very involved with the local community.

The pub actively supports local charities and local youth football teams while providing a warm welcome to visitors to the area as a traditional English public house. The owners have a genuine passion for the pub which is evident by the excellent service provided by their staff.

What the winners said:

I think we are the best pub in the county simply because we listen to what people want and do our best to deliver.

We sponsor and support all things local and above everything else we aim to offer good food, good drink and always good company. This award really is recognition to every single cog in our wheel. It makes every one of us super proud to see it hanging on the wall.

White HartWhite Hart


Restaurant of the Year

Judges: Scott Goodfellow from Tiptree Jams and Craig Jameson from Down Hall Hotel & Spa

Sponsored by: Wilks & Co Wine Merchants

High Commended: Grand Trunk Road, South Woodford

High Commended: Mexican Kitchen, Runwell

Winner: Alec's Restaurant Bar and Grill, Navestockside

What the judges said:

This converted country pub has been turned into a high-end seafood restaurant in a fantastic location with great countryside views.

The busy team handles service extremely well and everyone seemed happy. We enjoyed fresh, delicious seafood dishes, executed to a high technical standard, with staff knowledgeable about where the produce was sourced from.

What the winners said:

We consistently deliver quality food of local provenance and outstanding customer service, with exceptional value offerings such as our set menu, that allows everyone to enjoy the Alec's experience.

We have a wonderfully loyal customer base and thank them for their votes and continued support. We're over the moon to be named Best Restaurant in Essex and will continue to deliver the high standards our customers are accustomed to.



Essex Life Food & Drink Hero

Judges: Julian Read from Essex Life and Oliver Brown from Wivenhoe House Hotel

Sponsored by: NFU Mutual

Winner: Paul Milsom¸ managing director at Milsom Hotels & Restaurants.

What the judges said:

Our Food & Drink Hero winner is a loyal supporter of local suppliers and producers, an example of which is 67 continuous years of doing business with the Wheeler family of Mr.Wheeler Wine.

He has also been a passionate advocate for growing the profile of Essex, particular in Harwich, as well as ensuring that talented local people get the chance to improve their skills and develop their careers.

What the winners said:

It was a wonderful surprise to be awarded the Essex Life Food and Drink Hero 2019. This is very generous praise for our longevity as a business at the top of the restaurant and hotel industry in this area. The award may be in my name, but the reason we continue to please our customers is due entirely to the incredible talent, passion and dedication of our team.

The good news is I was considering going on a diet, but I will have to put this off until next year as it would be inappropriate for the 2019 Food & Drink Hero to be seen to be losing weight!

Paul MilsomPaul Milsom

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