Celebrating the Sussex food and drink industry

On Wednesday the 1st February, the 2017 Sussex Food Awards took place at Brighton’s AMEX stadium. Now in their 11th year, the awards have been going from strength to strength with this year’s awards seeing record breaking numbers of public votes received. The awards have been championing food and drink producers, businesses and chefs from across the county, and rewarding them for all the hard work they put in throughout the year.

The awards are run by Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC), co-directed by Hilary Knight of Sussex Food and Drink Network and Paula Seager, Managing Director of Natural PR Ltd. The awards are supported by a team of expert and independent judges who are guided by Sussex farmer and Nuffield scholar, William Goodwin.

Sussex Food Awards 2017

Attracting many high profile guests

Sally Gunnell, OBE DL, who is patron of the awards had this to say, “This is my fifth year as patron for the Sussex Food and Drink Awards which are all about supporting and boosting local farmers, food and drink producers and the outlets which use and sell superb local fare. Starting from small beginnings, the awards have grown to become prestigious and respected, attracting a record 13,000 votes from members of the public this year and huge support from business in the county, bringing together the whole local food and farming community. It’s an outstanding achievement.”

With the months of public voting and judging finally complete, it was time to announce the winners and runners up. The awards night is one of the highlights of the culinary calendar and this year was no exception. A champagne reception, bolstered this year by a Brighton Gin bar, greeted guests upon arrival. This was followed by a 7 course banquet prepared by the stadium caterers, Sodexo Prestige, utilising some of the produce from shortlisted producers from past and present years.

The evening was a fantastic success, and there were many jubilant winners and even a tear or two thanks to the speech of Street Food Vendor of the Year winner, Jah Jyot. Two years ago he was unhappy in a role as a sales manager and started the food business when one of his children pointed out that he should do something that makes him happy. Brighton’s Blue Bird Tea Co won newcomer of the year giving the city something to cheer about.

Co-director of the awards, Paula Seager, said “We are so incredibly proud of the Sussex Food & Drink Awards and want to wish our 2017 winners, grand finalists and finalists our warmest congratulations. The line up was hugely impressive this year, this evening is all about celebrating our Sussex food and drink heroes and we know the future is bright for all of them. Several new sponsors and supporters have come on board this year alongside our loyal, longstanding partners and we want to thank them all for sharing a vital role in making these awards such a great success.”

Winners and Runners up for 2017

Sussex Food Producer of the Year, sponsored by The Southern Co-operative

Winner: The Real Pie Company, Crawley, West Sussex

Runners up: Noble and Stace Chocolatiers, Midhurst, West Sussex and Ouse Valley Foods, Piltdown, East Sussex


Sussex Drink Producer of the Year, sponsored by Rix & Kay Solicitors

Winner: Nyetimber, West Chiltington, West Sussex

Runners up: Ridgeview Wine Estate, Ditchling Common, East Sussex and Wobblegate, Bolney, West Sussex


Sussex Young Chef of the Year, sponsored by Sodexo Prestige with Guest Judge Matt Gillan.

Winner: Michael Sutherland, The Star Inn, Alfriston, East Sussex

Runners up: Rachel Burroughs, Camelia Restaurant, South lodge Hotel, Lower Beeding, West Sussex and Anna Shopland, The Fountain Inn, Plumpton Green, East Sussex


Sussex Farmer of the Year, sponsored by Natural PR in association with Farmers Weekly

Winner: Andrew and Joanne Knowles, Trenchmore Farm, Cowfold, West Sussex

Runners up: Jeremy Davis and Lynne Curtis, Lynne’s Organic Farm, Eridge, East Sussex and Camilla and Roly Puzey, Saddlescombe Farm, Poynings, West Sussex 

Paula Seager, William Goodwin, Sally Gunnell, Hilary Knight

Sussex Butcher of the Year, co-sponsored by Plumpton College & RP Meats Wholesaler Ltd

Winner: A C Coughtrey Butchers, Pulborough, West Sussex

Runners up: Glyn Thomas & Son Ltd, Lindfield, West Sussex and Nick the Butcher, Hartfield, East Sussex


Sussex Farmers Market of the Year, sponsored by Harveys of Lewes

Winner: Shoreham Farmers Market, West Sussex

Runners up: Forest Row Village Market, East Sussex and Lewes Food Market, Market Tower (weekly) East Sussex


Sussex Eating Experience of the Year, sponsored by SuperFast Thermapen®

Winner: The Earl of March, Lavant, West Sussex

Runners up: The Crown, Hastings, East Sussex and The Sussex Ox, Polegate, East Sussex


Sussex Food Shop of the Year, sponsored by Wealden District Council

Winner: Cowdray Farm Shop, Midhurst, West Sussex

Runners up: Eggs to Apples, Hurst Green, East Sussex and Tablehurst Farm Limited, Forest Row, East Sussex


Sussex Street Food Vendor of the Year, co-sponsored by Food Rocks and Horsham District Food and Drink Festival

Winner: Jah Jyot, Southwater, West Sussex

Runners up: Garlic Wood Farm, Steyning, West Sussex and Pig and Jacket, Lewes, East Sussex


Sussex Newcomer of the Year, co-sponsored by Kreston Reeves incorporating Spofforths and Sussex Food and Drink Network

Winner: The Bluebird Tea Co Shop, Brighton

Runners up: The Artisan Bakehouse, Ashurst, West Sussex and The Set Restaurant, Brighton