With the highly anticipated annual Food Drink Devon Awards taking place in October, Food Drink Devon is delighted to announce this year’s finalists in the prestigious awards.  Following the closure of entries in April, a distinguished panel of judges and industry experts embarked on assessing and judging an unprecedented number of entries.  Including many of the county’s most respected and influential artisan food and drink producers, over 300 products were sampled, 95 hospitality establishments visited, 30 retail outlets scrutinised and eight Training School / Learning Experiences were participated in, to select Devon’s finest.

Winners will be announced during the organisation’s glittering black tie award ceremony on Monday 2nd October at Sandy Park, home of Premiership rugby team Exeter Chiefs.  Returning for the 12th year, the gold standard industry accolades celebrate the best the region has to offer, with categories open to both members and non-members of Food Drink Devon including the 'Producer Awards', 'Retail Awards', ‘Hospitality Awards’ and ‘Sustainability Pioneer Award’.

Food Drink Devon’s ‘Sustainability Pioneer Award’ shines a light on businesses going that extra mile in their endeavours to be environmentally friendly.  This year’s finalists for the ‘Sustainability Pioneer Award’ include a broad spectrum of producers, hospitality establishments, retailers and training schools including Hylsten Bakery (Buckfastleigh), The Husbandry School (Bickington), THE PIG-at Combe (Honiton), Springwater Farm (Broadclyst), Eversfield Organic (Bratton Clovelly) and The Black River Inn (Black Torrington) as well as others.

Sustainability Board Director at Food Drink Devon and Met Office Climate Service Lead in Food, Farming & Natural Environment, Dr Pete Falloon, comments on the entries; “The judging panel were thrilled with the number of high quality entries for the ‘Sustainability Pioneer Award’, there were some truly inspirational entries. It has been particularly encouraging to see how Devon businesses are acting as a force for good and embracing all three dimensions of sustainability - planet, people and profit - to ensure a greener world, support thriving communities and workforces and drive their businesses forward. We can’t wait to unveil the winners and tell you a bit more about their stories at the awards’ ceremony!”

Shortlisted businesses in the ‘Product Awards’ cover a huge variety of delights including sweet and savoury, meat, preserves, jams and chutneys, ales, ciders, wines and confectionery, as well as many others.  Finalists are also automatically in the running for ‘Food Product’, ‘Drink Product’ and ‘New Product of the Year’.  Some of this year’s finalists include; Atlantic Spirit (Bideford), Beckland Charcuterie (Hartland), Clive's Purely Plants (Dartmouth), Ebb Tides Seaweeds (Sidmouth), Hattiers Rum (Mothecombe), Jamu Wild Water (Exeter), Lovaton Farm (Okehampton), Taw Valley Microgreens (Umberleigh), Cakewhole (Plymouth) Sandridge Barton Wines (Stoke Gabriel) and Truly Treats (Kingsteignton).

Commenting on the ‘Producer Award’ finalists, Food Drink Devon Board Director, Jack Pickering, says: “The number, quality and range of products we received for judging this year was amazing. It is a real testament to the hard work producers from across the county have invested to deliver delicious food and drink products from our fertile lands. This year will see us award a record number of Gold awards and more excitingly a record number of Platinum awards, but everyone will need to wait until the awards’ ceremony to find out who they are!”

In the ‘Retail Awards’ entries have been whittled down for the ‘Best Retailer’ and ‘Best Online Retailer’ ranging from top-end delicatessens to village stores.  Finalists include Ashburton Delicatessen (Ashburton), Ben's Farm Shop (Staverton), Greendale Farm Shop (Exeter), Lyme Bay Winery Cellar Door (Axminster), Shaldon Village Store (Shaldon) and Veyseys Butchers (Cullompton).The hospitality section of the awards sees establishments fighting it out in five fiercely contested categories including ‘Best Fine Dining Restaurant’, ‘Best Restaurant’, ‘Best Pub’, ‘Best Café’ and ‘Best Takeaway’.  Shortlisted establishments in the fine dining restaurant, restaurant and pub categories include Bayards Cove Inn (Dartmouth), Harry's Restaurant (Exeter), Orestone Manor Hotel (Maidencombe), Salcombe Harbour Hotel (Salcombe), The Bucket & Spade (Shaldon), The Nightjar Inn (Aylesbeare), The Fig Tree @ 36 (Plymouth) and Winslade Manor Restaurant & Bar (Clyst St Mary) as well as others.  Finalists in the café and takeaway categories include Arc Kitchen and Coffee House (Exmouth), Sara's on the Beach (Paignton), Valley View Café (Loddiswell), The Original Pasty House (Plymouth and Tavistock) and Amelia’s Pantry, Cofton Holidays (Starcross) and others.  

Covering food production, preparation, retailing, cooking and service, the Food Drink Devon Awards honour businesses demonstrating a consistent commitment to quality, sustainability, provenance, excellent customer service and support for their local communities and other local businesses.  Each year judging for the awards is carried out by a panel of independent and unbiased experts including a number of celebrated names from the region.  All results and winners are verified by an independent adjudicator, with entrants receiving the opportunity to benefit from invaluable product feedback provided by the panel. 

Chair of Food Drink Devon, Greg Parsons, comments on the calibre of entries: “Being part of the judging panel for the Food Drink Devon awards is a privilege and it provides us with an annual opportunity to assess the quality of food and drink in our glorious county. I am delighted and extremely proud to report that the overall standard this year is amazing and that will no doubt be reflected in the number and levels of awards. In such challenging times, with rocketing costs and a squeeze on discretionary spend, it is inspiring that we are raising our game and making Devon the ‘go to’ county for fantastic food. We look forward to our awards’ dinner, where we will properly celebrate the region’s produce and food and drink community.”

During the celebratory evening of Devon’s finest food and drink, along with the presentation of the awards, attendees will enjoy a drinks reception, three-course meal created using produce from Food Drink Devon members with all the fruit and vegetables provided by awards sponsor West Country Fruit Sales.  A special thank you goes to sponsors of the awards Partners&, M&B Edible Oils, Bays Brewery, Caterfood, West Country Fruit Sales, Bishop Fleming, Vale Labels, Harvey & Brockless, Impact Design & Marketing, Stephens Scown, inkREADible Labels, Hedgerow Print and Food Magazine, with the staging being provided by PL1 Events. 

Food Drink Devon is committed to increasing the county’s profile, both nationally and internationally and represents a membership of Devon's leading food and drink producers, speciality retailers, hospitality and catering businesses.  Through working with like-minded businesses, together they showcase Devon as a county where the use of fantastic quality, seasonal and local produce is standard.  The organisation and its members share a commitment to enjoy, inspire and discover more about food and drink.  Look out for their green heart logo which is carried by over 350 producers and businesses across Devon.