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Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards 2014 - one year on with the 2013 winners

PUBLISHED: 17:35 03 June 2014 | UPDATED: 10:50 28 July 2014

The Jolly Farmers, Buckland

The Jolly Farmers, Buckland

Archant

With voting for the 2014 Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards open, Matthew Williams catches up with a selection of last year’s winners to discover how things have changed since

It’s back! Bigger and better and dressed up in black tie and posh frocks. The Surrey Life Food & Drink Awards will be heading to Foxhills, Ottershaw for the evening in October. Vote for your local foodie favourites today in the 2014 Food & Drink Awards @ surreylifeawards.greatbritishlife.co.uk

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PUB OF THE YEAR & BEST LOCAL MENU

Jolly Farmers, Buckland

Jon Briscoe, owner

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

How long have you got? Winning the award was amazing and really gave the team the recognition they richly deserve. I think our buzz word is ‘collaboration’. We’ve been working with local butcher’s, Robert and Edwards, and Surrey Hills AONB to create a Surrey Hills Heritage Sausage, with five per cent of proceeds going back to the Surrey Hills Group. We’re also about to launch a new series of events called Meet your Maker, where people can meet local food and drink producers and learn more about their work. I guess the biggest development is the growth in our condiment business Briscoe’s. These are produced on-site at the Jolly Farmers and appear both on the menu and in the deli shop.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

I think there’s more stability in the market and in general people are spending more than a year ago – but I’d say they are only doing so where they see quality and value for money, trading up from a discount culture where quality falls below expectations.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

People continue to care about what they put in their mouths and where it comes from – and that’s perfect for us as we have the very same passion. We’ve always championed local producers and will continue to do so. The whole horse meat scandal amplified people’s awareness of provenance. The other point of interest I’d raise is the importance of social media - it’s been amazing how our followers of facebook and twitter have risen in the past few months.

 

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TEA/COFFEE SHOP OF THE YEAR

Pinnock’s Coffee House, Ripley

Russell James, owner

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

We have been focussing on the growth of our business and ensuring that we continue to provide a good service to all of our customers. We are currently in the process of creating a new menu, as well as having new guest organic coffees to add to our list. We have also been developing our takeaway business and now supply other cafés/businesses with cakes, sandwiches, salads etc. This has meant a lot of very early starts for us but is going very well.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

We have only been operating for one-and-a -half years and over that time the business has built steadily. We did wonder if opening a coffee house in a small village would attract enough custom but we are happy to report that things are going really well.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

We recently visited the London Coffee Festival where we are seeing a lot more roasters and cafés embracing the ‘pour-over’ method that we use at Pinnock’s, as well as an uptake in the amount of organic and sustainable coffee that people want.

 

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SURREY LIFE FOOD & DRINK HERO

Grace & Flavour, West Horsley

Su Johnston, founder

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

Life has been hectic! The volunteer team have worked their socks (and planning heads) off in order to extend the growing season and have something to harvest every month. We’ve also been building – plans for our potting shed progress and a local bricklayer has been in to teach some of our members his trade. It’s almost a danger to stand still – someone will brick you up... just because they now can!

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

Times are tough – and we think they are largely unchanged. Funding in general is not easy to come by, so we’re very glad to be self-sufficient. The garden can use any new funding for capital projects but the day-to-day running costs are covered by our own revenues now, thank goodness! The economic climate is a good reason to grow as much of your own food as you can too... and there are economies of scale to be had if you do it as a community.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

When Grace & Flavour started, we were a novel concept and, as nice as that was, it’s even nicer to see community gardens springing up all over the country.

 

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FOOD & DRINK PRODUCER OF THE YEAR

Hogs Back Brewery, Tongham

Rupert Thompson, chairman

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

We have literally not been able to draw breath! We have launched our craft lager, Hogstar, to critical acclaim; in the fields directly across from the brewery, we are about to plant our hop garden (elements permitting) to further cement our place as a business well and truly grounded in Surrey; and we have doubled capacity at the brewery to meet demand for our beers. We have around six major projects in the Hogs Back Brewery pipeline, including a new direction for us in on-line retailing to complement our shop at Tongham.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

Whilst we are inevitably affected by economic downturns, the bigger impact for us is the sheer amount of competition that has entered the industry. But by being true to our principles of quality first across all levels of the brewing process, we firmly believe (and our performance bears out) that you cannot only survive but thrive even in harsh economic times. Now that it appears we are exiting the worst of the downturn, we are ideally placed to capitalise further as people hunt out quality and have the disposable income to enjoy it too.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

Craft beer is a movement gaining significant pace and we are in there early with Hogstar and making huge strides as more and more people are brought to beer. We are also championing beer and food matching and have undertaken a number of programmes to take this message out into the Surrey area.

 

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INDEPENDENT RETAILER OF THE YEAR

The Vineking, Reigate and Weybridge

Frank Dudley, events manager

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

Since the awards, we have been to a number of international wine fairs trying to find our latest batch of new wines. We have also been working on a wine bar in Reigate, in conjunction with Cullenders. It launched in April. And we have our first fully exclusive wine, with our name on as the importer: it’s a Pinot Grigio from Italy.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

Lots of people are talking about it and maybe that is giving a little more confidence to the customer but nothing major. We were okay, as we have a loyal customer base, but I know others have struggled.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

The turn to quality over quantity is brilliant. There also seems to be a slight shift towards old favourites that went out of vogue; so oaked Chardonnay and Viogner, for example. Wine is trend orientated and we’re seeing really interesting wines become more mainstream. We’re also increasingly involved in boutique beers and spirits.

 

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FARM SHOP OF THE YEAR

Fanny’s Farm, near Merstham

Nellie Maiklem, owner

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

There’s been no rest since the awards as we were washed through at Christmas. Luckily, 95% of our orders were collected on December 23, just before the floods! Mother is currently a day patient, once a month, at St Luke’s Cancer Centre at the Royal Surrey in Guildford but is getting great treatment and the nurses are fantastic. Back at the farm shop, we have started stocking The Real Pie company pies, which are really well packed full of meat, and our chickens are at full steam with over 20 eggs a day. On top of all that, we have also hosted BBC World Horizon, who came to film here, and the celebrity chef Heston Blumenthal used our shop and kitchen for his show.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

It has been an extremely hard winter, but we definitely feel that we are on the turn with the better weather.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

We are finding gluten-free is not so sought after any more – just as we had started to perfect our coconut cake! But people are after different vegetables, in larger amounts, and the fresher the better.

 

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RESTAURANT OF THE YEAR

Kinghams, Shere

Paul Baker, chef proprietor

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

The award generated a lot of interest from customers and, where we were always busy at weekends, we have noticed an increase in mid-week trade. We have also seen a lot of new faces too.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

We did notice a dip back in 2008 but business is now booming.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

Restaurants continue to offer more than just a place to eat. We are still doing our events, such as fishing trips where I charter a boat and take customers fishing out of Brighton. I then prepare the day’s catch for all to enjoy as part of a three-course dinner at Kinghams in the evening. We also have our gourmet wine evenings with a guest wine maker.

 

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CHEF OF THE YEAR

Stovell’s, Chobham

Fernando Stovell, chef proprietor

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

I wish we could say we have had some time off! We did have a few days in Sweden, which was very beneficial. Although it was colder than the UK, the sun was always shining and we experienced some amazing restaurants including the current 12th best restaurant in the world! We have been growing more produce in-house, which is coming along nicely, and have introduced a tasting menu, which is going very well. It is bespoke and we decide on a weekly basis what the 11-course menu will be with a wine flight to match. We are also working on some other restaurant projects – not another Stovell’s but a different concept: a lovely brasserie, with a cookbook shop, very near to Stovell’s.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

Here at Stovell’s, we have been incredibly busy, with March being as busy as the Christmas period. As well as a lot of private functions, there were a number of group bookings, then our loyal regulars and also new customers coming to try us for the first time. Overall, we are very please with the direction of Stovell’s.

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

At the moment, we are very excited about launching our own gin. We are basing all the ingredients on products grown in Britain and working closely with our suppliers to achieve the product we want. In regards to current trends, we are also making our own vinegars and we are also lactose fermenting our own ingredients as well.

 

 

 

FARMERS’ MARKET OF THE YEAR

Surbiton Farmers’ Market

Alison Ewbanks, market volunteer

 

What have you been up to since our 2013 awards?

We were very proud to win Surrey Life Best Farmers’ Market to add to our national FARMA Farmers’ Market of the Year award. Our focus since then has been on getting our produce right. We’ve introduced new stalls with local produce rarely available on the High Street, as well as guest stalls each month alongside market regulars. On the charities front, our volunteers have been seeking out new causes to support and to take a stall on market day. We’ve recently pledged our largest donation ever, a total of £4,000 to local charity Momentum towards the cost of refurbishing the parents’ room at Kingston Hospital Paediatric Department.

 

Have you noticed the much talked about ‘economic improvement’?

We’ve been very fortunate with the fantastic support that our customers have maintained over the past few years, not just through difficult economic times but also through one of the wettest winters ever, which can have a big impact on our particular business!

 

Are there any trends/innovations in your industry you are excited about?

There seems to be a real push towards shopping locally at the moment and, in our community, we can see the fruits of that trend. New retail businesses have been opening up in Surbiton and our farmers’ market on Maple Road has continued to thrive when others have struggled.

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Vote for your local foodie favourites today in the 2014 Food & Drink Awards @ surreylifeawards.greatbritishlife.co.uk

 

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