Essex Life Food & Drink Awards 2017

PUBLISHED: 17:09 27 March 2017 | UPDATED: 17:09 27 March 2017




Celebrating the finest food and drink in Essex


Nominations are now open for the Essex Life Food & Drink Awards and this is your chance to tell us who you think should win.

The Essex Life Food & Drink Awards are now established as the most prestigious food and drink awards within the county and aim to celebrate all that is great about our local food and drink industry, giving valuable recognition to producers, growers, suppliers and hospitality venues across the region.


To choose the very best winners in each category we are looking to you, our readers, to nominate who you think deserves a chance to win these coveted awards. So if you have had a special meal in an Essex restaurant or pub, been impressed with produce and service at a local farm shop or café, or have a favourite food or drink that is produced in the county, then let us know.

There are 13 categories to enter covering a broad range of activities across the food and drink industry, and remember, if your favourite isn’t entered, it can’t win! Finalists will be selected by a panel of expert judges and the winner will be announced at a glittering awards ceremony at Braxted Park near Witham on October 5.


You can enter online at

Closing date for entries in July 23, 2017

Essex Life Food & Drink Awards SponsorsEssex Life Food & Drink Awards Sponsors

Categories and Criteria:

Family Dining Award

Judges will be looking for a restaurant, café or pub which really meets the needs of family dining, by demonstrating attention to the requirements across the generations of diners, both in terms of its food offering, atmosphere and the variety of menu for guests regardless of age. The award reflects the whole experience, so is aimed at establishments that place a great emphasis on standards of service, both front of house and in food preparation, as well as having ‘that certain something’ which makes it appeal to the whole family.

Sponsor: Traymoor Quality Meats was born out of a desire to provide chefs with a bespoke service responding to their individual needs, but with prices usually only given to larger chains. For over 25 years we have supplied the best-known names in the Essex catering trade.

Pub of the Year

Nominees are accepted for fantastic pubs across Essex which have created a distinct and high quality offering for their customers — both traditional drinking pubs and those that have built a reputation for their restaurant and/or bar menu. Common to all finalists will be great standards of customer service and understanding of their market, technical expertise in sourcing and providing a good range and standard of drinks — both alcoholic and non-alcoholic — plus a sense of character that makes a visit to these pubs enjoyable and memorable.

Sponsor: G+G Gallo is a family-run, independent drinks distributor. The company has been running since 1995, supplying establishments from restaurants and nightclubs, to wedding venues and golf clubs. We are specialists in all aspects of drinks brought from all over the UK.

Restaurant of the Year

The judges will look for the restaurant in Essex which has the ability to create an outstanding dining experience, cook to a degree of excellence using fresh, local produce and provide an excellent level of customer service, demonstrating and understanding the diner’s expectations. Judges will be impressed by technical expertise, customer service, relaxed, comfortable ambience and an imaginative menu. Judging will involve an unannounced visit to the shortlisted businesses

Sponsor: Our small team at Wilks & Co. is dedicated to supplying restaurants, gastro pubs and hotels with high quality wines imported directly into our Essex warehouse. Next year will be our 25th anniversary and we continue to enjoy finding new wines and building lasting relationships with both customers and suppliers.

Best Essex Producer

This award recognises the fantastic food and drink products being created within the county. Judges will be looking for a first class product that demonstrates the manufacturer’s flair for creating, developing and delivering a distinctive, successful and respected item, either as a stand-alone or as part of its brand. Manufacture of this will have been in Essex, although it is not essential that every ingredient is sourced from within the county’s borders.

Sponsor: Bellefontaines Jewellers was established in 1946. We are a traditional family jewellers, offering everything that you would expect to see at traditional family jewellers, selling everything from silver chains to platinum certificated diamond rings. Our repairs are all carried out onsite and we take on bespoke commissions as well as valuations.

Pride of Essex Award

This award recognises a product or brand that the county is proud to call its own by demonstrating the excellence of food and drink production within Essex or even further afield. Judges will consider those which are respected brand leaders beyond the county borders, whether in terms of produce, product or full brand range, and which instil a real sense of pride in the county. The Pride of Essex Award is open to all food and drink producers and suppliers, such as farmers, brewers butchers, bakers, fishmongers and delicatessens, demonstrating a real passion for the county and the food and drink made here.

Sponsor: The East of England Co-op is the largest, totally independent retailer in the East Anglian region, with more than 235 stores in local towns and villages across Essex, Suffolk, Norfolk and Cambridgeshire. Owned by over 275,000 members — our customers, colleagues and the local community — we believe in sharing our success and giving back to the people and communities around us.

Best Newcomer

This award is open to any business or individual who has started a food and/or drink venture in the last three years (since March 2014). The judges will be looking for an outstanding early stage business which has already become a success story or shows promise to become one. The winner will be a company which is able to demonstrate a pioneering approach, strong performance over the past year, plus the potential to flourish and be sustainable. Among the qualities the judges will be looking for are a dedicated effort to drive the business forward, potential and vision.

Sponsor: Braxted Park is a beautiful Queen Anne house set in its own historic and unique parkland setting near Witham in the heart of Essex. It has been developed by successive generations of the family into a highly successful and diversified rural business which incorporates five main enterprises: weddings and events, property management, a nine-hole parkland golf course, one of the best partridge shoots in the UK and a productive arable farm.

Best Coffee/Tea Shop

The judges will look for the coffee or tea shop in Essex which is able to create an outstanding customer experience — a warm welcome, high quality tea and/or coffee plus a range of other drinks, tasty food made from fresh, local produce, all served with an excellent level of customer service. Judges will be impressed by a relaxed, comfortable ambience, originality, an imaginative menu and aspects to make the cafe or tea shop ‘special’. Judging will involve an unannounced visit to the shortlisted businesses.

Best Independent Food & Drink Retailer

This award recognises retailers such as butchers, bakers, delicatessens, farmers markets and more with a passion for high-quality products and fresh local produce, as well as outstanding customer service. The judges will be impressed by an attractive, well laid out shop, stocked with a wide variety of excellent products; staff who provide friendly, helpful customer service, and have good product knowledge; innovation in products and presentation and any additional facilities and services that the retailer provides.

Field to Fork Award

Judges are looking for individuals or businesses with the ability and vision to produce and market quality food products in this region. These are growers and producers who are passionate about what they do and who have the talent and skill to grow, develop and market an outstanding and commercially scalable food product. They also need to show environmental credentials and demonstrate a contribution to the local community.

Sponsor: Beresfords are Essex’s largest, family-owned independent estate agency and have been successfully operating for over 45 years. Established in 1968 by RD and EG Beresford as a single office practice in Upminster, Beresfords now spans 15 offices across the county and into Greater London.

Destination Dining Venue

The judges of this category will be looking for a restaurant, café or pub that customers are happy to travel to within the wonderful county of Essex, regardless of how long it takes to get there. This category looks to reward venues that provide a great food offering and atmosphere in outstanding surroundings. The judges will be looking to see that organisations deliver a consistently impressive food and drink provision and pay attention to local sourcing as well as taking advantage of their destination and creating a good food and drink offering and atmosphere.

Sponsor: The Blackwell family has been farming at Coggeshall for four generations. For many years we have concentrated on traditional farm fresh geese and turkeys for the Christmas market. Urged on by our customers, we opened a farm shop in 2008 and the ethos of the shop was to support local suppliers.

Customer Service Award

Judges in this category will be looking for the level of service that makes a truly enjoyable visit to the restaurant, hotel, café or pub. They will be impressed by the ability to understand and anticipate customers’ needs, a good knowledge of menus, dishes, provenance of ingredients and of drink matching, as well as a personable approach that complements the establishment and really enhances the visit. This category recognises an often overlooked yet extremely important sector of the hospitality industry and nominations will be accepted for teams or individuals.

Sponsor: Hatfields is a local, family-run business established in 1886. It sources an extensive range of quality furniture, flooring and accessories, all displayed across two floors of beautifully designed showrooms. Hatfields prides itself on good customer service; it is after all the best way to gain a trusted reputation.

Essex Life Food & Drink Hero

This award recognises an individual who has made an outstanding contribution to Essex’s food industry. The winner could come from any part of the industry — a grower, producer, cook, restaurateur, retailer, educator or local food and drink champion. The judges will be looking for someone who is an expert in their chosen field, has a proven track record, inspires colleagues, educates and sets standards that others aim to attain.

Sponsor: Wilkin & Sons Ltd, famous for its ‘Tiptree’ preserves, offer a wide range of products ranging from classic preserves to modern classics, such as a new nut-free Chocolate Spread. The firm is also developing a reputation for traditional tea rooms, with Essex locations including Cressing Temple Barns, Finchingfield and Dedham.

Chef of the Year

This prestigious award is open to chefs who are working within the Essex food and drink industry. Competitors may come from all areas of the hospitality business, including hotels, restaurants, pubs, contract catering, fine dining, private and public sectors. This will recognise the close link of fine food with using the best of local produce.

HOW TO ENTER: For this award, readers and businesses are requested to make nominations, before chefs will then be invited to make a formal submission to qualify for a live cook-off at Braxted Park Cookery School. Further details are available at

Sponsor: Allstaff Employment attracts a large range of clients including restaurants, cafes, pubs, hotels, wedding venues and fine dining restaurants. Established in Essex since 1986, our clients know Allstaff Employment has excellent local knowledge of the Essex catering industry.

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