Local food producers crowned at inaugural Urban Food Awards
Six local food and drink producers are celebrating after being selected as winners of the Mayor of London’s inaugural Urban Food Awards.
The victorious group of locally based producers were crowned top of their individual category at an awards bash at London’s world famous Borough Market this evening (Thursday 24 September). Four other producers were also recognised for their outstanding contributions to London’s food scene.
The Urban Food Awards is a celebration of all the very best food and drink produced by companies with 50 employees or less in the capital. Organised by City Hall and London Food Link in a bid to root out the best of the city’s local larder, hundreds of Londoners nominated their tastiest eateries, outlets and growers.
A panel of judges including the chair of London Food, Rosie Boycott, and chefs Rowley Leigh and Oliver Rowe had the enviable task of whittling down the shortlist in five categories, while the Mayor personally judged the cheese category.
The Mayor of London, Boris Johnson, said: "I was hugely impressed by the quality and standard of the cheese category, it was feta than I expected! I congratulate all the winners and those nominated for what has been a hugely successful competition. What it unquestionably shows is when it comes to top notch grub and high quality beer, nobody does it quite like London."
Hackney-based producers Barnes & Webb came out on top in the Heavenly Honey category with its SW7 honey.
Chris Barnes of Barnes & Webb, said: “We were surprised to be nominated and it is an honour to be recognised as one of London's best food producers especially amongst such a high calibre of nominees. And, as the awards are focused on sustainable urban food production, which is at the heart of our business, it means even more.”
Snaps and Rye, a Danish kitchen in Notting Hill were winners of the Londoners’ Loaf category with their Danish Rye Bread, while the Welsh Dragon Sausages were top of the pile for Barnsbury producers Green and Fortune for Best Banger.
Growing Communities’ Hackney Salad was commended for its “robust, bright, fine textured leaves” after winning the London Leaves category.
Sophie Verhagen, head grower at Growing Communities, said: “We’re delighted to win the award for loveliest London Leaves for our organic Hackney Salad, grown with the help of apprentices and volunteers on the 12 sites that make up our Patchwork Farm. Winning the award will help us gain recognition for all our projects – and keep training new generations of growers in how to produce great, local, sustainable food.”
Clarkshaws Brewing Company, a microbrewery in Brixton were victorious in the Beautiful Brew category for its Strange Brew No1 Pale Ale, while urban cheesemaker, Wildes Cheese in Tottenham, was crowned The Big Smoke’s Big Cheese for its Napier cheese.
The Urban Food Awards are part of the Urban Foods Routes initiative, which provides support and business advice to London’s small growers, producers and sellers.
It’s funded by Seeds of Change and the Mayor of London and delivered by the Plunkett Foundation and London Food Link, with the aim of helping social enterprises and privately-owned business to become more sustainable, while encouraging Londoners to buy locally grown food.
The chair of the London Food Board, Rosie Boycott, said: “The standard of entries in this year’s awards is really going to take some beating and goes to show the wonderful range of top quality food and drink on offer, right here in the capital. It is right we are able to recognise and celebrate the wonderful goods being produced by small, independent producers who really pack a punch with the fare they put on for demanding Londoners. The Urban Food Awards has been a huge success and provided a fantastic platform for those local growers and producers to put their goods quite literally right in the shop window for the entire city to see.”
Hosts Borough Market, who also staged the judging, were presented with the Krys Zasada Memorial Award in memory of the late Krys Zasada, a member of the London Food Board and the National Association of British Market Authorities, who was a passionate advocate of the importance of markets to the vibrancy of city life.
Keith Davis, Managing Director of Borough Market said: “Borough Market’s long, illustrious history has been defined by our location, right in the heart of the country’s biggest and most dynamic city. As far as food markets go, there are few places more urban than this. It felt completely appropriate, therefore, that the Market should play host to the Urban Food Awards, a celebration of the very best of London’s extraordinary culinary culture. It has been a great honour to be involved, and even more so to be recognised in the London Markets’ category for our work to ensure we continue to provide a world class food market for London for generations to come.”
Other winners on the night included Jack Clarke and Theresa Douthwright of fishmongers, Soleshare, who won the Food Hero award in recognition of their efforts in leading the way towards better food in London through their sustainability campaign.
Theresa Douthwright of Soleshare said: “It was a real honour to be shortlisted for the Food Hero category. We've had our heads down, working hard to figure out a box scheme model that really works both for fishermen and for Londoners. Winning this category means a lot to us and if anything, it motivates us even more to reach our goals of supporting more responsible fishers, providing better access to good fish and in a way that doesn't cost the earth.”
Chris Young of London Food Link said: “We have so many fantastic community food gardens and small batch producers in the capital. As London Food Link is the organisation bringing them together with the Londoners who cook, sell and simply enjoy eating their wares, we’ve been delighted to work with The Mayor of London and Borough Market to create this celebration of their great grub.”
Peter Couchman of the Plunkett Foundation said: “The Urban Food Awards are a brilliant opportunity to shine a light on the fantastic small food enterprises producing local food for their communities whilst providing jobs and contributing to the local economy. It’s great to see such a range of enterprises from London being honoured in this year’s awards.”
Notes to editors
Urban Food Awards winners 2015
- Londoners’ Loaf - The capital’s favourite real bread
Snaps & Rye – Danish Rye Bread
- Heavenly Honey – London’s favourite honey
Barnes and Webb – SW7 Honey
- Best Banger – London’s favourite sausage
Green and Fortune – Welsh Dragon Sausages
- The Big Smoke’s Big Cheese - London’s favourite cheese
Wildes Cheese - Napier
- Beautiful Brew- London’s favourite beer
Clarkshaws Brewing Company - Strange Brew 1 Pale Ale
- London Leaves - The capital’s favourite salad leaves
Growing Communities - Hackney Salad
- New Shoots Food Guru
Dee Laverty - Broadwaters Inclusive Learning Community, Tottenham
- Food Hero
Jack Clarke and Theresa Douthwright - SoleShare
- Capital Growth’s Growing Enterprise
Nat Mady - Hackney Herbal
- Best London Market Initiative – The Krys Zasada Memorial Award
London Food - The London Food Board is an advisory group of independent food policy organisations and experts which oversees the implementation of The Mayor’s Food Strategy: Healthy and Sustainable Food for London.
London Food works across the whole range of the city’s food system promoting and developing work that meets the aims of the strategy.
London Food Link - Part of the charity Sustain, London Food Link is the organisation dedicated to championing the best of London’s local larder and bringing together the people who grow, produce, teach, peddle and enjoy good food in the capital. Current initiatives include the Capital Growth network of community food gardens, the Good Food For London Report and the London Food Poverty Campaign. Everyone is welcome to join the network and receives great benefits in return, including The Jellied Eel magazine and a range of discounts. www.londonfoodlink.org
Plunkett Foundation - Helps communities take control of their challenges and overcome them together. It supports people to set up and run life-changing community co-operatives; enterprises that are owned and run democratically by large numbers of people in their community. These help people to tackle a range of issues, from isolation and loneliness to poverty, and come in many forms including shops, cafes, pubs and land-based initiatives, and everything in between.
Borough Market – Borough Market is London’s most renowned food market; a source of exceptional British and international produce. www.boroughmarket.org.uk
Borough has long been synonymous with food markets and as far back as 1014, and probably much earlier, London Bridge attracted traders selling grain, fish, vegetables and livestock. In the 13th century traders were relocated to what is now Borough High Street and a market has existed there ever since.
For more information about Borough Market, its Traders and events please visit www.boroughmarket.org.uk