Sussex food and drink heroes celebrate success

6th February 2017

Celebrations were in full flow on Wednesday 1 February as the Sussex Food & Drink Awards revealed the county’s top food and drink producers for 2017 all hailed as local heroes as they received their winning trophies at the Amex Community Stadium in Brighton.

Hosted by awards patron, Sally Gunnell OBE DL and Danny Pike of BBC Sussex, the glittering 11th awards ceremony was a sell out with nearly 400 leaders in the food, drink and farming industry gathering for what is now dubbed as ‘the Sussex foodie event of the year’, celebrating the cream of Sussex food and drink producers.

Over the last 11 years the awards have received over 3,300 nominations and 113,000 public votes promoting hundreds of businesses as Grand Finalists. The awards scheme is run by Natural Partnerships Community Interest Company (CIC), co-directed by Hilary Knight of the Sussex Food & Drink Network and Paula Seager, Managing Director of Natural PR Ltd, with support from a loyal and high ranking group of sponsor and expert judges along with independent chairman of judges, Sussex farmer and Nuffield scholar, William Goodwin.

Said Sally Gunnell, OBE DL, “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.”

Guests were treated to a wonderful ‘Sussex bubbly and ale reception’, sponsored by Pulborough NFU Mutual, with Harveys Ale, Carr Taylor sparkling wine, Wobblegate apple juice, Brighton Gin and South Downs Water, accompanied by delicious canapés from Jah Jyot and The Artisan Bakehouse. This was followed by a stunning seven-course banquet created by stadium caterers Sodexo Prestige, using the very best local and seasonal ingredients supplied by Lighthouse Bakery, Bookham & Harrison, Southview Farm Dairy, Hoads Farm, Veasey & Sons Fishmongers, Plumpton College, R P Meats (Wholesale), T G Fruits, Wobblegate, Paynes Bee Farm, The Cheese Man, Noble and Stace chocolatiers, Bluebird Tea Co and Edgcumbes Coffee Roasters.

Said Paula Seager, “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.”

Guests also had the opportunity to enter a fantastic prize draw with the chance of winning a superb Sussex VIP Foodie Tour, kindly donated by several of the Grand Finalists and partners at the awards ceremony. The winning package includes complimentary meals at The Set, The Earl of March and The Fountain restaurants; a wine tasting tour of Ridgeview Wine Estate; a Magnum of Nyetimber; a flight on British Airways i360 for two people, with a glass of sparkling wine at the Nyetimber Sky Bar on board; a year’s supply of pies from The Real Pie Company; a mixology workshop at Bluebird Tea Co; a Tablehurst Farm hamper; and a whole venison butchered to your request from Glyn Thomas and Sons butchers.

For further information on the awards and winners in all ten categories including Sussex butcher, food producer, drink producer, farmer, young chef, farmers market, food shop, eating experience, newcomer and street food vendor of the year visit

Winners and Runners up for 2017 are:

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
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

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