AN evening of celebration shone a light on some of the region’s best hospitality businesses at the second Coventry & Warwickshire Foodie Awards last week.
In partnership with Visit Warwickshire and Visit Coventry, the awards, hosted by Fargo Village in Coventry, brought together more than 50 businesses vying for success across 17 food and drink categories.
The finalists came under the scrutiny of a judging panel made up of some well known names in the industry, including Michelin Star chef Paul Foster, who runs Stratford’s Salt restaurant, British Bake-off winner Candice Brown and food and drink broadcaster and champion Nigel Barden. Warwickshire food blogger Ellen Manning, of Eat With Ellen, also helped judge the Fine Dining Chef cook-off.
Winners were chosen from 17 categories that focus on quality, service and innovation with an emphasis on farm to fork, including a public vote Community Award, and new this year, a new special award honouring a Food Hero, sponsored by Visit Coventry.
Paul Jones, Managing Director of Destination Coventry, said: “We’re absolutely delighted that Metropolis has been recognised for its incredible work by winning the Visit Coventry Food Hero Community Award. It’s mission to change people’s lives through education and training in the hospitality industry is truly inspiring. The fact that this accolade was achieved through our public vote, makes it even more special. Many congratulations to Fleur, Dave and their incredible team.”
Foodies organiser Jonathan Smith of Talk Business UK
New categories this year also recognised Foodie Start-up- won by St Maur in Alcester; Fine Dining Restaurant, won by The Loft in Coventry; Fine Dining Chef of the Year, won by Tobias Reutt of Earlsdon Supper Club and the International Taste Award, which went to The Cork and Tile in Stratford.
The celebrations continued afterwards with an awards party at The Sky Blue Tavern, hosted by Dhillons Brewery, including games and DJ.
Foodie Awards Founder Jonathan Smith, of Talk Business UK, said: “I must admit to feeling humbled and inspired following the Foodie Awards presentation event. Meeting all the finalists and hearing their stories, feeling their passion for what they do and seeing how wonderfully supportive the food and drink folk are towards each other, was amazing.
“Highlights were seeing the reactions of the winners and their delight at their success and especially hearing more about our Special ‘Food Hero’ award winner, Andrew Hartshorn from Finham Park 2 School.
“My thanks again to all those who entered the Foodie Awards, the businesses and organisations who sponsored the Awards and especially to all those who attended the Awards event and helped make it a most memorable evening.”
The Awards also raised more than £500 through a raffle on the night for The Trussell Trust network of eight food banks in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Zoe Ballinger, of Trussell Trust, said: “Thank you to everyone at Foodie Awards 2022 for supporting the work for The Trussell Trust and Coventry and Warwickshire Foodbanks. We are very grateful for the generous donations we have received that will make a huge difference to the work we do in the community and ultimately the work to end food poverty.”
Food and Drink Experience Award:
Enchanted Tea Room – Leamington
An enchanted forest-themed tea room combining the tradition of afternoon tea with live theatre style performance.
Co-owner Kelly Isles said: “This time last year we won the community hero award for feeding the NHS free meals during Covid at a time when our business was closed for 18 months. We didn’t know if we even had a business. This year’s award was perfect timing for us as we’ve worked so hard to save our business and are absolutely thrilled to win this award.”
Young Foodie Award:
Veg Food Enthusiast – Katie Todd, Henley-in-Arden
Twenty-five-year-old Katie established this Midlands-focused vegan blog in 2020, creating easy plant-based recipes as well as running a street food event called The Veg Weekender.
Katie Todd said: “I am over the moon to be named Young Foodie of the Year and be recognised alongside so many fantastic people and businesses here in the Midlands. My mission is to show people that vegan food is delicious, enjoyable and in growing demand.”
Foodie Start-up Award:
St Maur – Alcester
This handcrafted elderflower liqueur business was established by The Earl and Countess of Yarmouth, William and Kelsey Seymour when they first created a unique drink for their wedding day.
Co-owner William Seymour said: “We have been aware that there is a vibrant food and drink scene in the heart of England, but The Foodie Awards has really opened our eyes to the diversity, quality, and abundance of what there is to offer right here in Warwickshire and Coventry.
“We have won awards for St Maur internationally over our first two years in business but to win here at home is a success we can be very proud of. I would highly recommend to other food and drink start-ups to enter The Foodie Awards too and help build the fantastic community we saw coming together on the Awards night.”
Fine Dining Restaurant of the Year Award:
The Loft – Coventry
The Loft has achieved a strong reputation locally after opening its doors mid-pandemic in June last year.
Matt Frost, from The Loft, said: “This award means so much to us and it’s wonderful for our incredible team’s efforts to be acknowledged by others. This is just the beginning for us, and we thank everyone that’s supported us over the last 12 months. By exploring courageous avenues of cooking, we hope to inspire a new, unique perspective on dining.”
Fine Dining Chef of the Year Award:
Tobias Reutt – Earlsdon Supper Club, Coventry
Earlsdon Supper Club is an award-winning zero-waste fine-dining experience, bringing unique food events and private dining to Coventry and the surrounding areas.
Tobias said: “It was amazing to win the Foodie awards again against tough opposition and good to celebrate the great food scene we have here. It comes at such an interesting time as we’re launching a new series’ The Sunday Social’ and private dining experiences very soon.”
Best Casual Dining Establishment Award:
Dough and Brew – Warwick
Dough & Brew is a multi-award-winning pizza restaurant that marks six years of trading this year.
Owner John Martin said: “We were delighted and humbled to have won against such great competition, and having the award presented by culinary genius Paul Foster was also a great honour for the team. We hope to continue to live up to expectations & thank everyone that has & continues to support us.”
Best Casual Dining Chef Award:
Sophie Hyam, Culinary Bites – Coventry
Sophie left her career in corporate sales management three years ago to set up her own catering business and, as well as being a private chef, she offers cookery lessons and food demos.
Sophie said: “I’m immensely proud of winning this prestigious award. It was tough competition at pub in the park Warwick cook-off against two competent chefs. I’m just overwhelmed Candice Brown and Nigel Barden chose my dish to win the overall category.”
International Taste Award Award:
The Cork and Tile – Stratford
The Cork & Tile is a Social Enterprise training kitchen and restaurant serving up authentic Portuguese cuisine – newly opened this year within the re-devolved Fred Winter Centre with the aim to training and retraining people returning to work who may have experienced homelessness.
Neil Perry, owner, said: “What an incredible honour, we’re so grateful to everyone in Stratford Upon Avon for supporting us and we would like to thank all our partners within the Fred Winter Centre.”
Farm Shop of the year Award:
The Farm – Stratford
Located in Snitterfield, The Farm champions independent businesses within Warwickshire and neighbouring counties and even includes a Cookery School.
Charlie Wells, Director, said: “It’s such a great feeling to be recognised for all our hard work through these challenging times, and what fantastic farms shop to be alongside. We are thrilled!”
Artisan Drink Producer Award:
Napton Cidery – Napton-on-the-Hill
The team at this family-run independent cidery harvests, presses, bottles and distributes more than 100,000 litres of craft cider a year using 17 types of apples and perry as well as juices, spirits and vinegars.
Co-owner Charlotte Olivier said: “It was such a surprise to win this award and also flying the flag for craft cider. We are very passionate about what we do and so proud of this recognition.”
Artisan Food Producer Award:
Vittle and Smoke -Southam
This one-year-old family-run business uses traditional smoke craft to enhance and intensify premium ingredients. These are then carefully paired with a complementary wood smoke (plus additional ingredients) to enhance, balance, and increase the flavour profile and where possible, always prioritising local producers.
Owner Kieran Ingham-Burroughes said: “We are so happy to have won our very first award and humbled by the overwhelming number of messages of congratulations following the event.”
Independent Food or Drink Retailer of the Year Award:
LOLA Provisions – Leamington
LOLA is a small neighbourhood wine shop and bar with a focus on sourcing and selling sustainable and organically made wines whilst serving the best coffee and food and provisions, from British charcuterie through to award-winning Scottish chocolate.
Katie Jenson, who runs the business with her husband James, said: “We couldn’t be more humbled and touched for the recognition receiving this reward brings.”
The Best Cafe or Coffee Shop Award:
Forrest Coffee House – Kenilworth
Forrest is an independent coffee house in the heart of Kenilworth offering fresh cakes made in house every day, locally roasted coffee and a selection of retail items from curated local makers.
Molly Shanahan said: “We’re thrilled to have won a Foodie Award for Coffee Shop of the Year, we have had a whirlwind year opening Forrest in the midst of a pandemic and welcoming our son Ned into the world so this is just the cherry on top and credit to our wonderful team.”
The Best Pub or Bar Award:
The Coach House – Stratford
The Coach House opened its doors in May 2021 following a major refurbishment by Davenports Brewery, which sympathetically blended the 475-year-old history of the building with a stylish environment whilst also reflecting the history of Stratford.
General Manager Linzi Toon said: “We are beyond proud of achieving this award, to deliver Best Pub/Bar to the heart of Stratford is a real honour. Since opening last year we have worked hard to create a super environment and experience for our valued customers…it’s wonderful to see that hard work realised in this prestigious award!”
The Street Food Trader of the Year Award:
Boxx ‘n Bar – Coventry
Grace Breen said: “I’m so proud of the journey our business has been on to date and where it is heading for the future. It’s with great thanks to our supportive staff, family and friends who we have helped us get to where we are and to the wonderful businesses who have given us the opportunity to trade with them. This award means so much to me.”
Employee of the Year Award:
Kevin Prior – Metropolis Bar and Restaurant, Coventry
Thirty-four-year-old Kevin secured a position as kitchen porter at Metropolis after losing his job in the pandemic, thanks to PET-Xi Training Hospitality Courses – funded via the West Midlands Combined Authority (WMCA).
Kevin said: “I would like to say a massive thank you to PET-Xi Training and Metropolis for allowing me this opportunity to win this award. To also share another ‘Community’ award with Metropolis is fabulous. And thank you to Fleur and Dave for all the support over the last year and giving me this amazing opportunity at Metropolis.”
Metropolis Bar and Restaurant – Coventry
Metropolis, which opened in July last year, trains unemployed people to work in the hospitality sector. Funded by West Midlands Combined Authority, 50% of all profits go to charities for community projects.
Fleur Sexton, who runs Metropolis with Dave Lewis, said: “Our aim is for Metropolis to be a real destination within the city, as well as an excellent Bar and Restaurant that has the benefit of being a training ground for young people.”
Food Hero Award:
Andrew Hartshorn, Finham Park 2 School – Coventry
Andrew runs the school’s food and nutrition department, offering the best possible cooking lessons and experiences.
He said: “We try to do things differently and do things that have an impact on as many young people’s lives as we can and food is the perfect vehicle for that.
“It’s so humbling to win this award to be in the same category with the other winners is incredible. It’s great to be recognised for what we do and hopefully will build even more links to give it even more opportunities for our school community. We have lots of exciting projects coming up and we can’t wait to share them.”