Months of planning to organise the first ever Foodie Awards for Coventry & Warwickshire finally culminated in a fabulous evening celebrating some of the region’s best hospitality businesses.
Being ask to get involved in the awards – the first of their kind in the region – was not only a privilege but allowed me to bring some PR skills to the organising committee, as well as my food knowledge and contacts to help put together an awards programme that wouldn’t be about the big corporate sponsoring it, but the businesses themselves.
Along with Talk Business and Chalmers News PR, as well as Visit Coventry and Coventry BID, we organised a full programme comprising 15 food and drink categories that would allow us to showcase the full range of businesses across Coventry & Warwickshire.
The Foodie Awards didn’t just include one grand finale, but a finalists’ night, as well as a Masterchef-style cook-off judged by celebrity chef Glynn Purnell and his former boss Andreas Antona, owner of The Cross in Kenilworth.
Judges on the panel to decide the final winners included some of the area’s top food figures including Russell Allen, managing director of award-winning butcher Aubrey Allen, entrepreneur, investor and speaker John Stapleton and food influencer Chris Hardy AKA ‘The Fat Foodie.
Winners were as follows:-
Foodie Champion, sponsored by The Leamington Courier – The Barn Kitchen
Artisan Drink Producer of the Year – Dhillons Brewery, Coventry
Artisan Food Producer of the Year – Price’s Spices, Leamington Spa
The Godiva Award, sponsored by Coventry BID – Dhillons Brewery
Pub/Bar of the Year – Dhillons Brewery
COVID Resilience Award – Hooray’s British Gelato Kitchen, Stratford-upon-Avon
Cafe/Coffee Shop of the Year – Warwick Street Kitchen, Leamington Spa
Best Newcomer Award – Pasta Brothers, Leamington Spa
Express to Success Awards, sponsored by Comesto – Price’s Spices
Farm Shop of the Year, Hilltop Farm Shop and Cafe, Leamington Spa.
Food or Drink Experience Award – Bread for Life, Leamington Spa
Restaurant of the Year – Turmeric Gold, Coventry
Chef/Cook of the Year – Tobias Reutt, Earlsdon Supper Club
Independent Business of the Year – Proof Bakery, Coventry.
Best Street Food – Stripclub Streetfood
Jonathan Smith, of Talk Business UK, said: “I’m both relieved and inspired to have finally been able to host the first Foodie Awards and welcome all the finalists, supporters and guests to celebrate their amazing achievements from the last 18
“It’s fair to say that, after a series of postponements, at times we had our doubts about whether it could even happen, but all the organisers felt strongly that it would be a much-needed boost to the industry as it emerged from a very difficult time, so we were determined to adapt and push on.
“A big thank you as well to all our sponsors, without whom the night would not have been such a huge success – Visit Coventry (Coventry City Council); Visit Warwickshire (Warwickshire County Council); CW LEP; Comesto; Aubrey Allen; BID Coventry; NFU Mutual Central Warwickshire and Warwickshire College Group who produced the trophies. Now bring on Foodie Awards 2022!”
The event, which was hosted at The Box at Coventry’s FarGo Village, also raised more than £1,000 for the nominated charity, The Trussell Trust network of eight foodbanks in Coventry and Warwickshire.
Samantha Stapley, chief operating officer at the Trussell Trust, said: “The support of the Foodie Awards will help food banks within our network continue to provide the lifeline of emergency support for local people in crisis, while we work in the long term to build a hunger-free future.
“As the pandemic continues, more people are likely to need a food bank’s help. Food bank teams are working tirelessly to ensure help continues to be available.”
Reacting to a successful night for Dhillon’s Brewery, Trish Willetts, Director of Coventry BID and award sponsor, said: “The Coventry Brewery have their brewing facility by the CBS Arena, and took their first city centre unit during lockdown
restrictions in early 2021. They opened in the Christchurch Spire, one of Coventry’s three iconic Spires, and have gone from strength to strength.
“During the same time the team turned their brewery into a hand sanitising manufacturing unit to help with the battle of the virus supplying city centre businesses. Now they are embarking on their second bar which will be the Coventry City Tavern, a sports bar due to open on the outskirts of the city centre in August, with sponsorship with Coventry’s very own football team. They hit adversity in the eyes and kept on, keeping on!”
Councillor Jim O’Boyle, cabinet member for tourism at Coventry City Council, said: “I was delighted to see so many businesses represented at the awards – they did our thriving food and drink sector proud. I’d like to congratulate all of the winners and, in fact, everyone who entered.
“The awards gave a real boost to the hospitality sector in Coventry and Warwickshire and at just the right time. It’s been a tough year, but the awards ceremony reminded us that there’s great food and drink in our high street names, our independents and our new businesses.”
For more information on the Foodie Awards – and news on the Foodie Awards 2022 – visit www.foodieawards.co.uk