2015 Entry Closed

2014 Winners

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Pride and passion were in evidence at the 2013 Cumbria Life Food & Drink Awards.
The passion of the winners and the pride in what they’d achieved was matched by the feelings of the students and staff from Kendal College, who hosted the event and whose cooking and service drew widespread praise.

 There was also added drama because of the heavy snow which fell during the late afternoon and evening, preventing a number of guests from reaching the event.

 Richard Axford, the assistant head of the college’s school of hospitality and catering, said that they had concentrated on keeping the students focused, which was good preparation for their working lives.

 “When these guys get jobs in the trade they will have days like that and they can’t expect to go home and walk away,” he said.

 Although not all the 200 guests were able to attend, it was still by far the college’s biggest event of the year.

 “We were very, very pleased from an educational point of view and a commercial point of view that we could service the trade to such a high standard,” he said. “It’s very important for us to be seen to be producing a very high standard, especially when the trade are dining in your restaurant.”

 The event was the culmination of the magazine’s search for the county’s best food and drink producers, cafés, specialist shops, restaurants and chefs. The host was the writer, broadcaster and Cumbria Life columnist Stuart Maconie.

 The chairman of the judges Steven Doherty said there was a “genuine buzz” during the event.

 Steven was pleased that the award winners proved popular with the audience: “It thrilled me to bits to get such a warm response from the room when the winners were announced.”

 He hoped the event’s success would encourage even more entries next year.

 The Judges’ 2013 Special Award for outstanding contribution to Cumbrian food and drink went to Westmorland Limited, which owns Tebay Services and farm shops and the Rheged centre.

 Chief executive Sarah Dunning, who attended with her father, John and members of the retail team, said it was a wonderful event and the award had been a big surprise.

 “Winning this Cumbrian award means a lot to us.

 “It’s great to know we’re producing something that people appreciate, both in Cumbria and beyond.”

 One of the judges, food journalist and marketeer Gillian Cowburn, praised the organisation: “The professionalism of the awards ceremony was second to none. What Cumbria Life did and what Kendal College did together to put that on as an event was so impressive.”

 She was proud to hear the audience cheering on the winners: “As a judge it’s your choice but you hope that the public agree with your choice and that they can see the excellence that we’ve seen.”

 There were Cumbria Life Special Awards for the baker Simon Thomas of Staff of Life in Kendal and David McLaughlin, the long-serving chef at Windermere’s Michelin-starred Holbeck Ghyll.

 Stewart Lambert and his wife, Christine, from Kitridding Farm Café and Shop near Kirkby Lonsdale, picked up the Best Farm Shop award.

 The judges said what they do is superb.

 “It’s a great accolade,” said Stewart. “It’s something you work for, for years - not intentionally - but you work for it and when it comes it puts the cream on the pudding.”

The trophy has pride of place in the shop and the certificate travels with Stewart to farmers’ markets.


Nick and Wendy Shill weren’t able to attend the awards in person to hear they’d won the Best Specialist Retailer award for Shill’s of Station Street in Cockermouth.


The judges said Shill’s was small but perfectly formed and a joy to visit.

 “I just think it’s so lovely to be recognised,” said Nick. “To be nominated was fantastic but to win it – we didn’t expect that at all.”

 Nigel Platt his wife, Cherith, collected the award for Best Café/ Tea Shop for Canteen Baba Ganoush in Kendal.

 The judges said that Canteen wasn’t just good but was extraordinary.

 Nigel said the trophy and certificate had pride of place in the Canteen and they were delighted.

 “We’ve had lots of positive feedback. I think a few of our regulars knew we were up for the award.

 “It was a great event; I thought it was really professionally put on and we thoroughly enjoyed it despite the weather.”

 Maurice Walton collected the award for Small Producer of the Year for Appleby Creamery.

The judges said the cheese was a wonderful product produced by a knowledgeable team

 Maurice said they were extremely proud.

 “I was very surprised when we got it because we’re so small; there’s only five of us.”

They were already incorporating the win into their packaging and were hopeful the award would help them push their Eden Valley Organic Brie and the smoked version called Eden Smokie.

 Dan Weston, a director at Lakes Speciality Foods, based at Staveley near Kendal, was there to collect the award for Best Large Producer – won jointly with Hawkshead Brewery.

 The judges said it was simply one of the best companies in the area.

 Dan said: “We’re elated; the nice thing is that any award is an acclamation of what we do.”

He said it was also recognition for their staff from all departments: “Everyone gets to share the award.”

 Hawkshead Brewery of Staveley near Kendal was the joint recipient – along with Lakes Speciality Foods – of the Best Large Producer Award.

The judges said it was an incredible place with incredible beer.

 Sales manager Anne Jones said although the brewery had won many awards for its beers, they were delighted that the business itself had been recognised.

 “Our beers are well thought of throughout the UK but this is our patch; this is where we’re from and it’s great that we’re recognised home and away.”

 Andrew McPherson, the general manager at Holbeck Ghyll near Windermere, was there to collect the Judges’ Special Award for Outstanding Service.

 The judges said the team stood out for the highest standards of country house service.

 Andrew said: “To be acknowledged for our service - and, in particular our ‘outstanding’ service - means a great deal to us all.

 “While the location and the views take care of themselves, and while David and his team maintain incredibly high standards with the food offering, the way we look after our guests is absolutely crucial.

 “We have a fantastic, happy and talented team at Holbeck Ghyll and this award has been earned by each and every one of my staff.”

 Andy Walsh, of The Coffee Kitchen at Cockermouth, collected the award for Best Newcomer.

 The judges praised the great coffee, fantastic real bread and real sense of community.

 Andy said the award had already generated interest with new customers from Carlisle, Penrith and Cartmel who had read of their nomination and subsequent win.

 He was “very chuffed” with the award which had pride of place on the counter.

 “You can only win best newcomer once so it does give you something to aim for – we’ve got room for improvement and room for growth.

 “It’s given us a real boost as a business.”

 Scott Fairweather, of The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant at Crosthwaite near Kendal, was named the Young Chef of the Year.

 The judges said Scott was enthusiastic and wholly committed to the business.

 Scott said: “Just to win it in front of the type of people and the amount of people that were there was absolutely mind-blowing.”

 The Chef of the Year award was collected by Ryan Blackburn of The Cottage in the Wood near Keswick.

The judges said Ryan is passionate and sends out the right signals.

Ryan said: “When I was at Holbeck Ghyll, the management would go off to these awards and this time I was on a table next to them.”

 Craig Sherrington picked up the Dining Pub of the Year award – won jointly with The Punch Bowl Inn – for his pub, the General Burgoyne at Great Urswick near Ulverston.

 The judges said the chef/patron cares about his customers and the food is very good.

 Craig said: “Now we can say we’re up with these guys [The Punch Bowl]. We’ve been there two-and-a-half years and we’ve made enough progress to be able to stand up.”

 The team from The Punch Bowl Inn & Restaurant at Crosthwaite, near Kendal, collected the Dining Pub of the Year award, won jointly with the General Burgoyne.

 The judges said The Punch Bowl has a reputation for serving consistently good food.

 Steph Barton, the owner of The Drunken Duck Inn near Ambleside, was with her team to pick up the award for Cumbria Life Restaurant of the Year.

The judges said they were blown away by the delivery.

 Steph said: “I’m delighted for the whole team at The Duck and loved Steven Doherty’s comments about The Duck being a prize fighter delivering a killer punch.”

 Simon Rogan, of the two Michelin-starred L’Enclume in Cartmel, collected the Judges’ Restaurant of the Year award.

 The judges said the outstanding restaurant was truly world class.

 Simon said that the win, following last year’s Restaurant of the Year award, put him under pressure for the future.

 “To win two years in a row, we’re making it very hard to win it next year. We really have to keep on our toes and keep achieving things.

 “It’s nice to see we’re appreciated in our own area. It was a good night and I was going a bit red with some of the things that were being said about us. It makes it all worthwhile.”

 Cumbria Life Special Awards

 The chef David McLaughlin was one of the recipients of a Cumbria Life Special Award.

 The judges said David was one of Cumbria’s most consistently talented chefs, having retained a Michelin star for 13 years.

 He said: “I am delighted to receive this award. I’d like to thank the judges and also the hard-working team at Holbeck, both past and present, who have been instrumental in maintaining consistency over the years.”

 Simon Thomas received a Cumbria Life Special Award for the Staff of Life bakery in Kendal, which he runs with his wife, Julie.

 The judges said Simon was one of the best bakers in the country and was a true artisan.

 Along with the Staff of Life Simon has spoken to schools, WIs and groups about real bread and teaches baking classes.

 He said of the award: “It shows we’re going in the right direction; it can seem like you’re a voice crying in the wilderness sometimes.”

 Sarah Dunning and her father, John, with their team from Westmorland Limited, picked up The 2013 Judges’ Award for Outstanding Contribution to Cumbrian Food & Drink.

 The judges said Tebay Services and farm shops were a great Cumbrian success story and the business had become iconic.

Sarah said: “Winning this Cumbrian award means a lot to us.”





Kendal College
hosts for the 2015 event

kc logo col pos

2015 Entry Closed4