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The shortlist for the Essex Life Food and Drink Awards have been announced

PUBLISHED: 16:23 11 October 2011 | UPDATED: 20:06 20 February 2013

Chef of the Year

Chef of the Year

It was a hard task for our judges to select the finalists from the hundreds of nominations received for the first year of the Essex Life Fine Food and Drink Awards. But, after many hours of deliberation, we can now announce the shortlist...

It was a hard task for our judges to select the finalists from the hundreds of nominations received for the first year of the Essex Life Fine Food and Drink Awards. But, after many hours of deliberation, we can now announcethe shortlist and reveal their very first reactions to the good news.


Im honoured and overjoyed to be shortlisted with my peers in Essex after only having been in the area for such a short time. Its a great sense of achievement to gain such anaccolade in the county.

Craig Ferguson, head chef at TheBull & Willow Room, Great Totham


It would mean a great deal to me towin this award. The Ducane can only function with a superb team and an award of this nature would be a suitable thank you for all of the hard work and dedication weve put in since the daywe opened the doors.

Jonathan Brown, head chef atThe Ducane, Great Braxted

Essex has a fabulously vibrant food scene featuring anever-changing spectrum of new restaurants, tasty produce and talented chefs.

This category celebrates the individuals who are making the most impact in our food community. It could be a local celebrity, journalist, critic, barman, waiter, farmer or farmers wife.

The winner of this very special award will be announcedon the night of the awards.

How exciting to be on the shortlist when our business is barely three years old. To be the overall winner in our category would just be amazing; our dream of a farm shop selling local products to local people began many years ago and the three years since we opened have been both exciting and extremely hard work. To win would be a great reward.

Howard Blackwell, Blackwells Farm Shop, Coggeshall

It would be fantastic to win such a prestigious award, which would prove that we were right in taking the risk and putting in the hard work to open up a farm shop that celebrates local products in these difficult economic times. It would be a real boost to the local community, and all our customers as well, who have supported us over the past four years.

Chris Butle, Greenstead Farm Shop, Halstead

'It is massively important that we promote our businesses and our local producers. It makes us different from the big supermarket chains that make it so difficult to compete in the food industry. In this economic climate it is a lot to do with survival. We have come a long way and put the effort in to become successful. We still have a way to go, but winning accolades such as this would inspire anyone to carry on improving.

Daniel Hull, Wrekin Farm Foods, Althorne

We love what we do and always put ourselves under great pressure to seek out the very finest products for our customers. To win in this category would be the most excellent seal of approval and a fantastic pat on the back for the whole team at The Food Company.

Matt Panks, The Food Company, Colchester

Its great to be recognised by our customers for the effort we put in to providing the service that they enjoy so much. To actually win would mean that what we do is appreciated by our customers, plus it would be a great way to round off our 75th anniversary year.

Phil Gunton, H. Gunton, Colchester

When we received the news that we were finalists we were stunned, totally shocked! It would mean the world to us if we won. Having only been trading for just over two years and taking on an ailing business, to win would be mind blowing. It is really satisfying to know that all our hard work has paid off and that our customers really appreciate us.

Richard Baker, Luckins Wine Store, Great Dunmow

Were all thrilled! We know we have a loyal customer base but were genuinely surprised that so many would take the time to put us forward for an award. The recognition that were providing a great product would be wonderful but, more importantly, it would be a resounding endorsement of the hard work and continuing efforts of everyone working at The Blue Strawberry, whether customer facing or back of house.

Steve Wright, The Blue Strawberry, Hatfield Peverel

To win would be a wonderful accolade, particularly for our head chef to receive such highly-esteemed recognition for the passion and dedication he gives to ensuring our guests have a great experience, it would also be wonderful for our front of house team to receive this award in light of the extra lengths they go to in providing such outstanding service.

Jono Clark, The Compasses at Pattiswick

We were completely bowled over when we heard; we hold our guests opinions in very high regard, so we were delighted to learn that so many had kindly voted for us. We would be thrilled if we were chosen as the overall winner. Our crew are passionate about pleasing our guests and exceeding their expectations when they visit us it would be wonderful for them to receive such recognition for their efforts.

Jono Clark, The Compasses at Pattiswick

It would be a fantastic achievement for us to go from starting up just over a year ago to being the best gastro pub in Essex. It has been a very challenging time and will be a testament to the teams determination and passion that we have achieved this success in a short amount of time.

David Milne, owner of The Bulland Willow Room, Great Totham

We were thrilled to be voted a finalist as Best Gastro Pub in Essex as we have been at The Pheasant five years this year and the vision that James and I have is starting to be recognised.

Diana Donoghue, owner ofThe Pheasant, Gestingthorpe

We try really hard to work locally and were well supported by pubs, clubs and bars. Its nice to be recognised as a good, local supplier and it would be a pat on the back for doing something right if we were to win. We try hard to make sure our beer is the best we can possibly make it.

Olly Graham, general manager at Crouch Vale Brewery, Chelmsford

Should we be so lucky as to be the overall winner of the category, it would give all of us working here at Mersea Island Vineyard and Brewery a great feeling of being part of a successful business and encourage us all to continue to produce a great range of wines and beers. Its good to know that they are so well received by the best judges of taste and quality, our fantastic customers.

Roger Barber, Mersea IslandVineyard & Brewery, East Mersea

Winning this award would be greatand round off one of the best years the vineyard has ever had since 1969 for the sheer number of English wine medals and quality awards.

Piers Greenwood, owner of New Hall Vineyard, Purleigh

Reaching the finals in our category is a real testament to our efforts and to the continued love of the timeless tradition of taking tea. Winning would confirm that our fresh food, lovingly homemade cakes, carefully chosen loose leaf teas and wide selection of traditional tea time treats together with the ambiance and historical location of Poppys, exceeds our valued customers expectations.

Liza Mitchell, Poppys Tea Room, Thaxted

Im thrilled to bits that my team have achieved a place in the finals and proud that our customers, new and old, have taken the time and trouble to vote for us. Everyone works so hard to provide the best service and quality food we possibly can. For me personally, to win would be the proudest moment of my working life you could say the icing on the cake.

Debbie Ghosh, owner of The Tea Tree Caf,Great Dunmow

We have worked hard to provide a comfortable setting for people to have tea or dine. We set out to provide a quality product in surroundings that were hard to beat. Customers have become friends and The Clockhouse has established itself as a place to meet friends in our community.

Carine Vergnes, The Clockhouse, Coggleshall


It is so important to showcase the countys producers; especially those in traditional industries such as ours where my family have been growing oysters for seven generations. It would be so good to raise the profile of oysters from Mersea which, although renowned throughout the world, are not necessarily appreciated locally.

Richard Haward, owner of

The Company Shed, East Mersea


It is so important to showcase the countys producers; especially those in traditional industries such as ours where my family have been growing oysters for seven generations. It would be so good to raise the profile of oysters from Mersea which, although renowned throughout the world, are not necessarily appreciated locally.

Richard Haward, owner ofThe Company Shed, East Mersea


If we were lucky enough to win this award it would be a fantastic accolade and testament to all of the team at Ashlyns. They work tirelessly to promote local produce which are organic where possible via the many different projects that we manage, especially the work we do with schools and hospitals.

Gary Stokes, project manager

at Ashlyns Organics, High Laver


If we were lucky enough to win this award it would be a fantastic accolade and testament to all of the team at Ashlyns. They work tirelessly to promote local produce which are organic where possible via the many different projects that we manage, especially the work we do with schools and hospitals.

Gary Stokes, project managerat Ashlyns Organics, High Laver


We as a team are all very happy to have made the shortlist. Winning would mean that all the hard work we do day in, day out has paid off.

Michelle Corrigan, owner of The Hoop at Stock


We as a team are all very happy to have made the shortlist. Winning would mean that all the hard work we do day in, day out has paid off.

Michelle Corrigan, owner of The Hoop at Stock


I am so pleased for my staff. They love The White Hart almost as much as I do and their support and loyalty is amazing, and so any recognition in this arena is fantastic for them.

Its nice to know our customers think so highly of us and, more importantly, that they took the time to vote and tell you. Thats a

really good feeling!

Liz Haines, owner of The White Hart Inn, Margaretting


I am so pleased for my staff. They love The White Hart almost as much as I do and their support and loyalty is amazing, and so any recognition in this arena is fantastic for them. Its nice to know our customers think so highly of us and, more importantly, that they took the time to vote and tell you. Thats areally good feeling!

Liz Haines, owner of The White Hart Inn, Margaretting


It would be fantastic to win as one of the many passions we have at The Thatchers is our real ales. We are very aware of what our customers want and always try to listen to what they would like to see on the hand pumps, whether it be local, regional or sometimes from further afield.

Alex Stuchfield, The Thatchers, Bishops Stortford


It would be fantastic to win as one of the many passions we have at The Thatchers is our real ales. We are very aware of what our customers want and always try to listen to what they would like to see on the hand pumps, whether it be local, regional or sometimes from further afield.

Alex Stuchfield, The Thatchers, Bishops Stortford


We were surprised and pleased when we heard we had been nominated. Its quite an achievement and its so nice to even be considered for the award. Its important to recognise the countys many great producers and restaurants we need to do more to shout about what we can do. It would be brilliant to win and

a real boost for the business.

Jane Hadley, Hadleys Dairy, Colne Engaine


We were surprised and pleased when we heard we had been nominated. Its quite an achievement and its so nice to even be considered for the award. Its important to recognise the countys many great producers and restaurants we need to do more to shout about what we can do. It would be brilliant to win anda real boost for the business.

Jane Hadley, Hadleys Dairy, Colne Engaine


We would love to scoop the award in this category. It would give us an enormous boost and would give us the edge to move our business in to overdrive and catch the eye of some of the larger chains, so that Caprilatte could be made more widely available. Warren Goff, owner of

Caprilatte Ice Cream, Abberton


We would love to scoop the award in this category. It would give us an enormous boost and would give us the edge to move our business in to overdrive and catch the eye of some of the larger chains, so that Caprilatte could be made more widely available.

Warren Goff, owner ofCaprilatte Ice Cream, Abberton


Were extremely proud, honoured and thankful to all our valued customers for recognising our hard work. We strive to always do the best we can do and to produce fabulous food that people will come back for time and time again.

Sophie Ansell, Holts of Witham, Witham


Were extremely proud, honoured and thankful to all our valued customers for recognising our hard work. We strive to always do the best we can do and to produce fabulous food that people will come back for time and time again.

Sophie Ansell, Holts of Witham, Witham


From the very start we wanted everyone coming through our doors to enjoy the whole shopping experience. How our store looks plays a part in this, but how our customers are treated is far more important. Absolutely nothing is too minor for us to care about and we never forget that without our loyal customers, we wouldnt have a business. Being nominated and shortlisted in this category means everything.

Matt Panks, The Food Company, Colchester


From the very start we wanted everyone coming through our doors to enjoy the whole shopping experience. How our store looks plays a part in this, but how our customers are treated is far more important. Absolutely nothing is too minor for us to care about and we never forget that without our loyal customers, we wouldnt have a business. Being nominated and shortlisted in this category means everything.

Matt Panks, The Food Company, Colchester


Were very happy. We work extremely hard to keep our levels of service high and are especially delighted to be nominated for this award by many of our customers. It would be a great accolade. Being a finalist is brilliant, so being the overall winner would be the icing on the cake!

Hannah Bourne, Perrywoods Garden

Centre Coffee Shop, Tiptree


Were very happy. We work extremely hard to keep our levels of service high and are especially delighted to be nominated for this award by many of our customers. It would be a great accolade. Being a finalist is brilliant, so being the overall winner would be the icing on the cake!

Hannah Bourne, Perrywoods GardenCentre Coffee Shop, Tiptree


Its fantastic news to be nominated for not one but two categories within the Essex Life Fine Food and Drink Awards. We all work so hard and its a great boost for an already gleaming reputation the pub has earned.

Michelle Corrigan, owner of The Hoop at Stock

Its fantastic news to be nominated for not one but two categories within the Essex Life Fine Food and Drink Awards. We all work so hard and its a great boost for an already gleaming reputation the pub has earned.

Michelle Corrigan, owner of The Hoop at Stock



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