Meet the 2017 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards judges
PUBLISHED: 08:33 02 May 2017 | UPDATED: 08:34 02 May 2017
Celebrating the very best of our county's fabulous food and drink offering, the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards are back for another year. With voting now open across 16 categories, from the best restaurants and pubs to local foodie shops, here we reveal this year's judging panel...
Nominate your foodie favourites online at foodawards.surreylife.co.uk
Closing date for nominations: Friday July 28
Awards night at Foxhills: Thursday September 21
Sponsored by Partridge Muir & Warren: www.pmw.co.uk
CHEF OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Chef patron of Sorrel in Dorking (opening spring 2017) and director of The Anchor pub in Ripley
Formerly chef patron of Drake’s on the Pond in Abinger Hammer and Drake’s in Ripley, where I held Michelin stars, I’ve also worked in some of Europe’s best kitchens: Chez Nico at Ninety Park Lane; the Oak Room with Marco Pierre White; Pied a Terre; and Aubergine. I first rose to prominence when I won the Roux Scholarship in 2001. I’m currently working on dish development while overseeing the design and build of my third solo restaurant, Sorrel.
BUTCHER OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Owner of Godalming-based catering company, Caper and Berry
Having started in 2000, Caper and Berry is now one of the country’s leading event catering companies. The company caters at some of the finest events in the UK (including the Royal Academy of the Arts, the Henley Festival and the Farnborough Airshow) and were recently voted in the top 10 wedding caterers in London and South East by the Evening Standard. Locally, we also manage Loseley Park, including the Wisteria Tea Rooms, and Surrey Cricket Festival in Guildford. A self-confessed foodie with a love of trying new foods, I love Asian and Pacific Rim food with its fresh flavours and zing and am also passionate about local produce and producers.
TEA/COFFEE SHOP OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Tourism marketing manager at Visit Guildford
In my job, I think it’s important that I practice what I preach – therefore I attend local events, shop local and explore our wonderful county – now with the added advantage of doing so through the eyes of my gorgeous grandson! Dining out is important and we always look for places that are genuinely family friendly. If the little ones are happy, then inevitably the older ones enjoy the experience more! In my work life, without a doubt, ‘where should we eat?’ has to be the most frequently asked question of visitors. The SLFDAs are an excellent opportunity to learn about new places that we can recommend to visitors.
PUB OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Chief executive of The Clink Charity, which operates fine dining training restaurants and gardens within UK prisons
I started cooking with my mother at home at a young age and, by staying in hotels, got a taste for the industry. I trained as a chef at college in Leicester, and then won a scholarship to go to New York with Holiday Inn to join its management training programme. On returning to the UK, I joined Hilton Hotels and also spent time working in Amsterdam. I then joined Harrods and headed up its restaurants before joining Fenwick as head of group restaurants, which included the Bentalls stores. In 2010, I joined The Clink and I lead a team where we are able to train up to 160 prisoners a day over seven sites. I’m also vice chair of the Institute of Hospitality and a non-executive director of Westminster Abbey Enterprises.
FOOD AND DRINK INNOVATION OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Managing director at Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking
Since 1998, my career as a chef has taken me into some of the world’s most famous kitchens, from London to Sydney and back again. These days, it is graduates of Tante Marie Culinary Academy who are most likely to be found in such kitchens, following in my footsteps. In the meantime, when I’m not at our Woking-based academy, I’m most likely to be spotted zipping around the Surrey countryside on my bike, competing in a long-distance triathlon or just out for a bit of active family time.
NEWCOMER OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Communications manager at the Surrey County Agricultural Society
I grew up in the Yorkshire Pennines and have always loved the countryside and animals, spending much of my childhood hanging around on local farms. Now settled in Surrey, I couldn’t turn down the opportunity to work for SCAS. The job is not just about the Surrey County Show, it’s about supporting, promoting and educating on all things rural, from beekeeping, producing local food and drink and raising livestock. When I’m not working, you’ll find me enjoying the countryside either on my bike, on my horse or with my labradoodle, Dexter.
RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Professor Andrew Lockwood
Forte professor of hospitality management in the School of Hospitality and Tourism Management at the University of Surrey
I was born and bred in Yorkshire – first in the family bakery and then the family hotel. I came down to Surrey as a student and, apart from brief spells in York and Scarborough, I have spent most of my working life here. As a professor, I am supposed to know a lot about hotels and restaurants – and to be fair, I do – but in experiencing any hospitality operation, I am always on the look out to learn more about the industry that I have a lifetime passion for. I still have a lot to learn!
OUTSTANDING CUSTOMER SERVICE JUDGE
Associate Dean for Learning and Teaching for the Faculty of Arts and Social Sciences, University of Surrey
Eating out is one of the great pleasures in my life, whether locally or in far-flung places. Food tells us so much about a place and its culture, and both the food and the way it is served contribute to a memorable experience. I am looking forward this year to rewarding great customer service, where people go that extra mile to give the customer what they need. Other than work and eating out as often as I can, what do I do with myself? Well, travel is another passion, as is singing in my local choir – and you might even find me tap dancing!
INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Vice-chairman of the Surrey Hills Society
Chance defines much of what happens in life. Following early retirement, I saw a poster for a new charity promoting my local countryside. I made contact and got drawn into a young SHS. That put me in the right place to meet lots of local people and learn more about rural Surrey. The next big chance was when the SLFDAs were first established. Our chairman was invited to be a judge but was away, so asked me to stand in for her. I did and was given the opportunity to judge Best Local Menu. In fairness, I did allow her to accompany me to the awards dinner that year. Since then, Surrey Life has been kind enough to invite me back each year to judge various categories.
BEST FAMILY DINING JUDGE
Marketing and brand consultant
Now a full time mum-of-one and expert coffee sampler, life has changed from my former role as communications manager at the Royal Automobile Club and prior to that marketing and PR manager at Foxhills. I now find myself supporting small to medium-size businesses with their marketing, branding and social media requirements in all areas from entertainment to artists and leisure. Being fully versed in where I can grab a cracking cuppa to who does a super sarnie and where on earth can I fit the buggy, nappy bag and still get a great fantastic feed while catching up with friends, I’m excited to be on board for a fourth year.
FOOD & DRINK PRODUCER OF THE YEAR JUDGE
Journalist, food writer and rural life expert
I have lived and worked in the Surrey Hills all my life and my job as a journalist has enabled me to meet people who share a passion for country life and to discover the incredible creativity and entrepreneurial spirit driving rural businesses here. Surrey still has the most beautiful rural landscape and I love being a part of the community working to preserve and promote it and help it to be sustainable. I’m a bit eccentric! I’ve ridden in Civil War re-enactment battles as a sword fighting Cavalier, I grow my own veg, ring church bells, play in an orchestra, sing in choirs, keep chickens and horses and once had a three-horned Jacob ram who thought he was a dog (he travelled in my car and went for walks)… I rest my case!
SERVICES TO THE COMMUNITY JUDGE
Director of Root and Prosper food and music events company
I am an out and out foodie, incredibly passionate about it and always interested to learn more about dishes, products, their provenance and production techniques. My love of the delis and food shops on the continent, inspired me to open a deli in Berkshire. I have written for food websites, newspapers and been a mystery shopper for restaurants, pubs and hotels. Did I say I was into food? I now run my own events and PR company, creating and curating food and music events in the Surrey area. Researching abroad, visiting events, testing out new foods and traders is a really tough call but someone has to do it!
FARM SHOP OF THE YEAR JUDGE
General manager at Foxhills luxury resort in Ottershaw
Driving from my home in Stratford-upon-Avon, the home of Shakespeare, to Foxhills in the Surrey countryside is always a delight. Away from work, I enjoy going to football matches with my son and the Formula 1 at Silverstone. Ultimately, the whole family love food and drink and my son writes a blog online about his experiences in the gastronomic places that we visit. I’m very much looking forward to another year proudly hosting the Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards at Foxhills, which we’ve supported since the very start, and I am hugely proud to be asked to judge a category.
BEST LOCAL MENU JUDGE
Chairman of Surrey Hills Society and Visit Surrey
I came as a backpacker from Australia after university, discovered the Surrey Hills and never left! I helped established the Surrey Hills Society, a charity set up to help promote and protect this specially designated area. Having worked in the tourism sector for many years, I have also been elected chairman of Visit Surrey, the “not for profit” tourist board for Surrey. My passions are walking in the Surrey Hills, gardening, singing in Gilbert & Sullivan operettas and writing for Surrey Life!
BEST LOCAL FOOD EVENT JUDGE
Breakfast Show co-presenter at BBC Surrey
I spend six days a week waking up Surrey from 6am on BBC Surrey, with my co-host Suzanne Bamborough. Growing up, I went to East Surrey College, in Redhill, and progressed into journalism working on various trade magazines before ending up as a finance reporter then a diary writer for national tabloid papers. I was lucky to fulfil my childhood ambition to work on the radio and, despite the early alarm clock, still enjoy every minute ‘on-air’. I also write a monthly column for Surrey Life – and have previously described judging the awards as one of the hardest things I’ve had to do, as there are always so many worthy candidates.
PRIDE OF SURREY JUDGE
This very special award is chosen by Surrey Life editor Rebecca Younger and assistant editor Matthew Williams during discussions at our judges’ meeting.