Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2014 judges

PUBLISHED: 11:39 23 September 2014 | UPDATED: 11:42 23 September 2014

Louise Johncox

Louise Johncox


Well, the votes are in for another year. Now all that remains is for the 2014 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards judging panel to debate the entries and hit the road 
to test out the chosen finalists, before reconvening for the black tie awards ceremony in October. Here, we meet the people who will be making the big decisions...

Sponsored by: Ashtead Hospital

Venue partner: Foxhills


Louise Johncox

Author of The Baker’s Daughter, Louise is a journalist who writes the monthly Surrey Life column, On The Tea Shop Trail. As such, she will be focusing her expertise on our tea and coffee shops


“I know from experience, having grown up with a family tea shop (Peter’s in Weybridge), how much work goes into running a good café,” says Louise. “So I’m keen to celebrate the successful venues where local people can enjoy tea, coffee, cakes and so much more. I’d also like to encourage more people to enjoy our thriving café culture. In Surrey, we are constantly proving that we have cafés and tea shops to rival the best in the country.”


Anita Eves

Leading the Hospitality and Food Subject Group at the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management, Anita teaches and researches the food-related aspects of hospitality management – making her the perfect choice to judge our chefs


“Eating out is one of the great pleasures in my life, and the last 10 years has seen a vast improvement in the food offering in the Surrey area, not only in terms of the number of good restaurants but also, more importantly, in the quality and creativity of the food provided,” says Anita. “As a result, I am really looking forward to sampling and then rewarding the county’s excellent chefs and their excellent cuisine!”


Kenneth Bare

A trustee of the Surrey Hills Society and a director of Surrey Hills Enterprises – both of which exist to support the Surrey Hills Area of Outstanding Natural Beauty – Kenneth will be picking through the best local menus


“I strongly support local food and drink producers and the outlets through which they are sold, and judging this category means that I will get to experience the best that Surrey can provide,” says Kenneth. “Few things taste better than high quality, fresh, local produce served in a well-run, friendly environment so it’s great that the readers votes are going to point me straight to them. I was part of last year’s judging panel and so it’s going to be really interesting to see how things have changed in 2013/2014.”


Jane Garrett

Author of A Portrait of the Surrey Hills, Jane is a freelance writer, editor and PR consultant specialising in rural affairs. Her work with farmers involves the promotion of local food and she’ll be judging the best Food & Drink Producer for us


“Surrey produces great food and drink – yes, it does!” says Jane. “These awards are a brilliant way of highlighting this. Everyone loves the Surrey countryside but it’s the farmers who look after it and conserve the landscape. It’s vitally important, therefore, that people support them. I love to buy local, to know the farms where my beef and lamb were reared, to have that ‘just picked’ taste of fruit and veg and to know where my beer and wine was made.”


Jo Oates

The group marketing manager at the Foxhills Collection, Jo Oates says she is looking forward to hitting the road to see how our county’s pubs measure up this year


“A Surrey girl born and bred, I feel very lucky to be involved in a family-owned and tremendously successful business based in my own county,” says Jo. “I would describe myself as a real foodie and cannot wait to see what the local community has to offer. I’ve always loved the communal experience of food and drink; I can think of so many great evenings spent with family and friends that have revolved around these two things. I think the standard this year will be even better than ever and I look forward to judging the pick of the crop.”


Diana Roberts

As the lady in charge of promoting tourism in Guildford, Diana Roberts knows a thing or two about what’s making Surrey tick. This year, she’ll be casting her expert eye over the best independent retailers


“Where to eat and drink is probably the single most asked question at Guildford Tourist Information Centre, so it’s great to be involved in these awards,” says Diana. “As anyone who knows me will attest, I’m not averse to ‘testing’ the area’s shops – in the course of research, obviously... Locally, I always particularly enjoy visiting our farmers’ market – taking home everything from crusty bread and unusual coloured carrots to, of course, fudge!”


Matthew Williams

For four years, Matthew has been Surrey Life magazine’s restaurant reviewer – inbetween bouts of deadline day tension, generally rambling about the county and managing the website. He will be judging restaurant of the year


“From my early days at Surrey Life, I always had half an eye on taking over the restaurant review section – so when the time came, I jumped at the chance,” says Matthew. “My family would be the first to admit they aren’t what you’d call natural born foodies, so I’ve always had fairly grounded expectations of what makes a restaurant great. I know what I like, whether it’s fine dining or pub grub, and am always willing to take each establishment on its merits rather than my own preconceived ideas of right and wrong – true passion has a real tendency to shine through.”


Carrie White

Development manager for Surrey Hills Enterprises, Carrie has 14 years’ experience in local projects for Surrey County Council, including Surrey Hills Enterprises. With her young son in tow, she’ll be trying out the best family dining


“I’m born and bred in Surrey and have a young son, James,” says Carrie. “My hubby Chris and I love to take James out and about and help him discover the area and its fabulous food and drink! Since having James nearly three years ago, I am discovering a whole new world of family dining and that is why I am really looking forward to judging this category. Food and drink in Surrey is beginning to get a name for itself for quality and distinction. Through work and home life, I love to meet new producers and experience their passion for the products!”


Professor Andrew Lockwood

The Forte Professor of Hospitality Management at the University of Surrey’s School of Hospitality and Tourism Management – the top one in the UK – Andrew will be tackling our farm shops


“Consumers of food and drink are increasingly interested in two aspects of the supply chain – traceability and food miles,” says Andrew. “Judging in this category allows me the opportunity to explore these two aspects at places where they should be at their best. However important these are though, the real test is whether the experience is excellent and whether the produce looks and tastes wonderful. Given the diversity of the Surrey area and the preponderance of artisan producers, this should be challenging but rewarding.”


The Very Revd Dianna Gwilliams

Dean of Guildford since September 2013, Dianna is currently busy leading the campaign to secure Guildford Cathedral’s future. She is presiding over the Pride of Surrey award for us


“I am passionate in my support for British agriculture and, with the exception of bananas, buy British produce sourced as locally as possible,” says Dianna. “My husband and I have been discovering Surrey for the past year and I look forward to finding out more about how producers in this county contribute to all that we enjoy from shops and supermarkets. With only one day off per week, we haven’t yet had many days to enjoy food and drink out and about but given time we will come to have our favourite places to enjoy in Surrey.”


Andrew Maxwell

Managing director and principal of the Tante Marie Culinary Academy in Woking – the UK’s first independent cookery school – Andrew will be testing out the top newcomers for this year


“Surrey is undergoing an exciting transition at the moment,” says Andrew. “Globally, interest in food is greater than ever before and Surrey is seeing a real increase in the number of good quality, privately-run restaurants and food businesses producing great food from fresh, local produce – be they caterers, tea rooms, restaurants or brasseries… amongst these, there are some exciting newcomers and I am hugely excited to see such growth right on our doorstep. It will be tough to pick between them.”




Last year’s Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards winners:


TOP CHEF: Kristy and Fernando Stovell, Stovell’s, Chobham


BEST FARM SHOP: Fanny’s Farm Shop, near Merstham

TEA/COFFEE SHOP: Pinnock’s Coffee House, Ripley

FOOD AND DRINK PRODUCER: Hogs Back Brewery, Tongham

PUB OF THE YEAR: The Jolly Farmers, Buckland

INDEPENDENT RETAILER: The Vineking, Reigate and Weybridge

BEST FARMERS’ MARKET: Surbiton Farmers’ Market

BEST LOCAL MENU: The Jolly Farmers, Buckland

FOOD AND DRINK HERO: Grace & Flavour


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