It is hard to believe that the BBC Good Food Show is now in its 22nd year. On Wednesday I braved the crowds at the NEC (with their shopping trollies) to see how the show could still attracted thousands of consumers and hundreds of food producers.
Spread over four halls there are five demonstration theatres – Saturday Kitchen Live, M&S Christmas theatre, Masterchef Experience, the Great British Bake Off stage and 2,000 seater Super Theatre, where the BBC Food & Farming Awards were announced.
The World Cheese Awards were being judged and for a £5 taster ticket you could sample some of the 3,000 varieties for the coveted awards.
When I arrived I had just missed Glynn Purnell on the Saturday Kitchen stage, but his recipe for roast brill with scorched lettuce and fondue of onion features in the show guide.
My first stop was the Producers’ Village. I’d read about Frost & Snow cupcake bakery in Birmingham, who in association with Midland Heart, provide training and jobs for homeless people as a social enterprise. Their stand had a beautiful selection of cakes that you can have delivered as part of their Cupcake Friday.
I stopped to say hi to Paul Whitehead on The Mini Jar Company stand, who told me that he had just taken delivery of some seeds from the US that were the world’s hottest chillies. He plans to unleash these fiery beasts on the contestants in the 2013 Chilli Festival in Brindleyplace 19 – 21 July. You have been warned!
Ardens from Stratford upon Avon had an attractive stand with lots of wrapped gifts, that the shoppers found very appealing.
There was a queue of hungry diners at the Napton Water Buffalo stand, patiently waiting for a sizzling burger straight from the grill.
It is difficult to stand out amonst the other exhibitors without a great stand design or creative marketing, so I particularly liked the branding on the Mrs Crimble’s stand. Their efforts paid off as people were stopping to look at the Morris Minor and enter their Facebok competition.
In need of a break I headed over to the Super Theatre for the BBC Food & Farming Awards. From bakers to dinner ladies, cider makers to cheesemakers, the finalists and winners are truly inspirational in their desire to make and sell good food for everyone.
The winners are:
Best Food Market – Sutton Bonnington
Set up by students at the University of Nottingham, the market sells produce ranging from bison burgers to local cheeses and is wowing both students and residents alike with the quality of locally produced food.
Best Food Producer – joint winners Westcombe Dairy and Pump House Bakery
With a record number of entries for this category there were five finalists and still the judges couldn’t decide on one outright winner! Westcombe Dairy has been producing cheese since 1890 and the latest generation of the family has brought the business bang up to date. The Pump House Bakery in Suffolk extends its customer base by takes its bread to villages and food festivals.
Best Big Food Idea – Growing Communities
Basde in Hackney, this local food co-operative makes up 1,100 bags of food each week for 750 local households. As well as helping to feed people, the scheme pays fair prices to farmers and has created 25 part-time jobs.
Best Public Caterer – Lyndsey Anderson
Lyndsey and her team serve breakfast and lunch to 1,000 kids at the Excelsior Academy in Newcastle. Unable to accept the award in person due to cancelled trains from the floods, Lyndsey will soon by visited by Jamie Oliver who announced the winner by video link.
Best Drinks Producer – Once Upon A Tree
Don’t you just love this compnay name! A collaboration between the Dragon Orchard in Ledbury and this cider maker, Once Upon A Tree’s owner is a former wine maker who wants the public to re-connect cider with food.
Derek Cooper Award – Mike Duckett
At the Royal Brompton & Harefield Hospital Mike Duckett has proved that you can provide good, healthy food that patients like within the restraints of a hospital kitchen. (Food blogger Martha Payne of food blog Never Seconds was a finalist in this category for changing our relationship with food).
Best Local Food Retailer – Eurospar Wales
Stocking only local products, this is the second time that this retailer in Wales has scooped a BBC Food & Farming Award. Owner of The People’s Supermarket and chef Arthur Potts Dawson presented this award in his apron, as he was cooking lunch for the winners using their ingredients.
Best Street Food / Takeaway – The Morrocan Soup Stand
For twelve hours a day for more than a decade, this street food stand has been serving hearty soups and stews in Goldborne Road, London, which impressed judges Valentine Warner and Charles Campion.
Farmer of the Year – Guy Watson
Proving that there is a demand for organic produce, Guy Watson is meeting the challenges of growing organic produce from his Riverford Organic Farm in Devon.